It is hard to think clearly after a car accident, even if at first it seems that no one was injured and the accident was not very serious. In the moment, the first thing that you might think about is how mad your boss will be if you are late to work or how upset your spouse will be if your already high car insurance premiums get even higher. It is important to think about your health first, though. Many personal injuries that result from accidents do not start showing symptoms immediately. Back or neck pain resulting from the collision tends not to show up until a few days later, but it can last a long time and be difficult to treat. In order to have as much documentation as possible to show your insurance company and, if necessary, your lawyer, take the following steps immediately after you are involved in an accident.

If You Go to the Emergency Room

If the police who report the accident recommend that you go to the emergency room to have your injuries evaluated, do not refuse just because it is an inconvenience to spend a big part of the day in an emergency room waiting to be seen by a doctor. Ask the nurses in the emergency room to take photos of any injuries you have sustained, if any of your injuries are visible. When you do see the doctor, ask for a written recommendation about how many days, if any, you need to miss work. This will be valuable information in your legal case when it comes to proving lost wages.  You will have written proof that your injuries sustained in the accident were the reason you missed work; the other side will not be able to argue that you simply chose to take a certain amount of time off of work.

A Doctor’s Expert Opinion

Unless your primary doctor is nearby and you can easily see him or her without an appointment, the emergency room physician is usually the first medical professional who will do a full evaluation of your injuries after the accident. Emergency room doctors must provide a detailed report when they release you from the hospital. Ask the doctor to include his or her assessment of exactly what caused your injuries, such as the angle from which the other car hit your car.  Also ask the doctor to include written instructions about future treatment you will need.

Make an appointment with your regular doctor as soon as you can after being released from the emergency room. Have your primary care doctor review the emergency room doctor’s notes and make any further recommendations in writing, including referrals to a specialist. Reports from physicians are some of the strongest evidence you can use in court in a personal injury case.

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