The First Week After a Collision

You’ve been in an auto collision.  You went to the emergency room or urgent care and were examined.  They told you that you have a “whiplash” injury, that the muscles in your neck and back have been sprained.  They may have given you anti-inflammatory medication, advised you to rest and to put ice on the sore muscles.  You felt bad immediately after the collision but now you’re feeling worse.  Much worse.  And there are things to be done.  Let’s sort this out.

There are two separate parts to every auto collision case; 1) the property damage portion and 2) the bodily injury portion.  The property damage part of your case involves resolving all property damage that resulted from the collision including fixing the car and replacing or repairing any other property damaged in the collision.  This could be damaged glasses or a damaged computer.  

You need to start the process of getting your car repair or, if it is too badly damaged, declared a total loss, immediately.  Call your insurance company and find out if you have “Collision Coverage”.  If you do, ask them how they want to proceed to get your car repaired.  They may send someone out to your location or they may ask you to drive to their location.  If you do not have Collision Coverage call the other driver’s insurance company and tell them where your car is.  Ask them to provide you with a rental car if needed.  Do not leave your car in a tow yard longer than is necessary!  Insurance companies are always looking for ways to not pay.  Get names and claim numbers from whoever you speak with.  The property damage should move relatively smoothly.  If your car is a total loss you will need to have an idea of the realistic value of the car.  Do some research and get a value for the car so you do not settle for less than it’s worth.

Now for the bodily injury part of your case.  You need to decide early on what, if any, course of medical treatment you will pursue.  Do not delay the start of your treatment and be consistent once you start.  Insurance companies look to medical treatment to determine the value of case.  Their logic is: “If you are injured, you get medical treatment.  If you are not getting medical treatment, you are not injured.”  You will need to get the necessary and reasonable medical treatment on your own.  Medical providers may want to bill the other driver’s insurance company’s.  That insurance company will not pay them.  Ever.  The other insurance company will make one payment to resolve your entire case – at the end of the case.

If you have health insurance submit all your medical bills to them.  Also contact your own auto insurance company and ask them if you have “Medical Payments” as part of you coverage.  That should be used to pay for your medical treatment if you don’t have health insurance or used to pay co-pays and out of pocket expenses if you do have health insurance.

The first few weeks following an auto collision are extremely stressful.  A consultation with an attorney can help put the pieces in order.