You’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident (MVA): What should you do?

First, you must seek appropriate medical attention if the impact is hard or you feel shaken up.  When a wreck occurs without notice or warning, you may be caught off-guard.    To make matters worse, the adrenaline kicks in and the “fight or flight” response may camouflage an injury.

It is important for an accident victim, or someone who has sustained a fall or impact, to seek immediate medical attention. Few people are able to diagnose or treat themselves, or understand the nature and extent of their injuries.  It has been my experience that often times a simple whiplash injury can produce symptoms for a lifetime.  Failure to seek immediate medical attention for a sore neck or sore back may allow the insurance company to say that they will not pay for the treatment. 

Over the 24 years that I have practiced personal injury cases, one of the biggest defenses by insurance companies is the injured party’s failure to seek immediate medical treatment.  Often times, a jury will agree with the insurance company’s argument that if someone was truly injured an ambulance would have come to the scene of the accident and taken the person immediately to the hospital.  After visiting the emergency room, it is important for the injured person to follow up with any necessary medical treatment.  Failure to obtain treatment, follow-up treatment, or to follow a doctor’s instructions is activity inconsistent with an injury, which is another defense for the insurance company from paying what they owe.

A further benefit of being examined by an emergency room physician is an off-work slip.  If you are injured you will need to give your employer an off-work slip so that you are not punished or possibly fired for missing work.  A physician’s off-work slip is also required before you can be reimbursed for lost wages or lost time from work. 

Second, after you have received the appropriate medical attention you should inform your insurance agent that you were involved in a MVA.  DO NOT speak with the other driver’s insurance company or give them a recorded statement!  You have a duty under your insurance policy to tell your insurance company that you were involved in a MVA and to give your insurance company a recorded statement (even if the wreck was not your fault).  You can report the wreck by calling your agent or insurance company directly or contacting them via email or the company’s website. 

Third, seek the advice of a competent attorney immediately.  Abraham Lincoln once said, “...the person who represents them-self, has a fool for a client”.  When you are the injured party, it is impossible to evaluate the situation objectively.  Personal injury law is extremely complicated by issues concerning fault, lost wages, medical bills, Personal Injury Protection (PIP), health insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, subrogation (the rights of the payer of medical expenses to get their money back from your settlement) and many other issues.  Being involved in a MVA can be a very stressful and frustrating time in your life.  An attorney can shield you from your insurance company, and more importantly, from the driver’s insurance company who caused the MVA.

Failure to secure an attorney quickly can result in the loss of benefits, destruction of evidence or loss of insurance coverage.  Waiting to hire an attorney can cost you thousands of dollars.  For example, the $10,000 in PIP money may be exhausted by the emergency room provider.  If an attorney reserves the PIP money for lost wages, prescriptions and other medical expenses, the injured person is less likely to incur out-of-pocket medical expenses.  

I have investigated or represented over 2,000 individuals who have been injured in a MVA or by someone else’s negligent conduct.    I would like the opportunity to represent you or your family member who has been involved in a MVA or has been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact my office at (859) 525-1900 or email me at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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