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I got T-boned in an intersection last week, and landed in the hospital. Do I need a car accident lawyer?

In minor accidents, with no injuries, you may not need a car accident attorney. However, in situations such as yours, where you ended up in the hospital, you likely have serious injuries and your medical bills are going to be high. In those cases, you almost always need a car accident lawyer.

Insurance companies love it when victims of car wrecks do not have attorneys. The insurance companies know that victims do not typically know their rights and that the companies can typically take advantage of unrepresented victims.

On the other hand, a car accident lawyer knows your rights. The lawyer can advise you about the process, about what you are and are not entitled to recover following a wreck, and what mistakes you might make and how you can maximize the value of your claim.

Personal injury claims are frustrating and confusing for survivors. What you do immediately after the collision directly affects the outcome of any legal claim you file. For example, you do not want to do even tell people involved that you are sorry. While it is polite to do so, insurance companies try to take advantage of your good manners and argue that your apology means you are admitting fault. Anything said right after a crash is fair game for an insurance company adjuster who can then turn it around and use your statements against you.

That’s an example of what not to do. What should you do following a car wreck? If you are seriously injured, your mail goal should be to get the medical care you need. Your well-being is paramount.

If you are able, it is often very important to document what happened. Most of us have cell phones now. Take your phone out and take a quick video walking around your car and around the other driver’s car. Your car wreck attorney can use that video to create still pictures of damage that each of you sustained, and that damage can often tell the story of what happened in the wreck.

You will also need to get information about the other driver. Get the name and address and any other contact information you can get for the other driver. If at all possible, get their insurance information as well. While it is possible for your car accident lawyer to find that information later, it is much easier and cheaper (for you) to get that information at the scene.

If there are witnesses, get the names and contact information for the witnesses. We too often talk to victims of a wreck who said that there were a number of witnesses that saw the wreck, but when we received the police report, those names were not included. It is critical to get names and contact information of those who saw the wreck so that the parties’ stories do not change.

If you are not injured, or not injured badly, it is still vitally important to go see a doctor. This is because some injuries, although they do not hurt at the time, or you are not aware of them at the time of the crash, can manifest days or weeks later. If you do not have a record of seeing a doctor and being examined, you can lose the opportunity to file a compensation claim. 

The other insurance company can also make a big deal out of you not going to the doctor and imply that you must not have been hurt or were faking it. To be safe, always go to a doctor after a car accident (unless you are going to the hospital) and get a paper trail that your car accident attorney can use.

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