Episode 13: What To Do When… You Are Injured in a Car Wreck
See Also: Personal Injury Cases
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What To Do When… You Are Inured in a Car Wreck Intro 0:01
Welcome to What To Do When….A podcast from real lawyers with real perspective, where we explore a variety of legal issues and scenarios. Each week we focus on a new topic and discuss What to do When, and if any of these legal scenarios ever happened to you or a loved one. With over 40 years of combined legal experience, our hosts offer their unique perspectives and insights on a range of real life legal situations.
Jackie Critzer 0:30
Scott Cardani 0:31
Scott, and Jackie here today with another episode. What’s on the docket for today, Jackie?
Jackie Critzer 0:36
Scott, I think today we’re talking about What To Do When… You Are Injured in a Car Accident.
Scott Cardani 0:44
That’s a big deal. We get a lot of phone calls with people who have been injured here in Richmond, VA. And it’s really important to understand what to do in that moment, because in that moment, you’re injured. And a lot of times, there’s a lot going on. So having a little thought process of what you need to be doing and when and how and all those things are important. Obviously, if you’re so hurt, that an ambulance is coming, and ambulance is coming to pick you up, or you’re being transported somehow you don’t have to worry about what to do in that moment. But a lot of car accidents and injuries, people aren’t carted away. And it’s important to know what to do.
Jackie Critzer 1:28
So what do you think is probably the top of the list of things to do if you’re injured in a car accident, or just the car accident has just happened? What do you do?
Scott Cardani 1:37
I think the number one thing that most people don’t realize is you do need to get checked out by a medical provider. You may not say somebody rear ends you or sideswipes, you and you feel okay. Most of the time, your your adrenaline after an accident is pumping so high, and everything’s going on, you may not feel like you’re injured, you may feel fine, you may feel fine for a few hours after the incident. And then you sit down that night and you’re sitting in your chair and all sudden you’re like, Oh, my back really hurts. And then you wake up in the morning, you can’t get out of bed, because all that adrenaline and that initial crash is all gone away. And now you’re really dealing with the pain. And I have so many people over the years who thought they were okay and said, Well, I didn’t go to get anybody to check me out because I felt fine. Three days later, I didn’t feel fine. But that’s kind of a big issue with personal injury cases, when the other side’s contesting whether you’re injured or not. They want to say well, you might have done something else in those three days before you went to the doctor. There’s all these things that could have happened, intervening cause as they call them, that could hurt your claim for your damages. So we always tell people, the first thing you do is go get checked out, even if it’s by your local family doctor and say, Hey, I was in an accident 15 minutes ago, this is exactly what happened. be detailed in that conversation. The car hit me in the front, I was pushed forward in a car, you know, think about that. Think about exactly how you are positioned in the car, what happened as much as you can, obviously, you’re not going to be perfect. But just get that out and get that in the medical record so that your doctor knows. Hey, Scott came to see me today he was in an accident, they rear ended him. He said he hit his chest on the steering wheel and his head kind of mood funny. He seems fine right now. And I told him to come back in three days of follow up, you’ve done what you need to do you processed and got this record rolling, you may never have to go back to the doctor. And that’s great. I hope you don’t have any injuries from it. Sure. But the bottom line is I have had so many clients, even two and three days later all the sudden. And it just depends on how your body processes, adrenaline and all those things and how quickly it wears off and all those things.
Jackie Critzer 3:48
So what happens? You refused either transport or refused to go get medical care after this accident has happened because you think you’re fine, or you’re not bad enough to go to the hospital. Okay. And then a few days later, you’re just as you described, it’s hard to get out of bed, you can hardly move you maybe not thinking straight, you have sort of a brain fog. What do you do, then you’ve already refused the treatment? What steps should the person take at that point?
Scott Cardani 4:14
It’s really the same thing. At that point. You need to get to your doctor, you need to get to somebody who can evaluate you and look at you. And again a lot of people try to think they have to I didn’t go I’ll just tell them I had the accident a couple of hours ago that’s not going to fly. Just be really honest. Don’t Don’t worry about it. Just say Look, I I was in a rear end or something in front of my car three days ago, I thought I was fine. I talked to everybody to seen. I seem to be okay, I didn’t have any issues. But over the course of the last few days, I’ve gotten worse and worse. And now I couldn’t get out of bed this morning. So I figured I better come in here and where you need to have it. It’d be helpful if you didn’t live alone at that point because you have somebody else who can say yeah, I know Scott wasn’t in any other accidents over the last few days and I watched him get worse and worse. You know there’s it gets questionable. they’re I mean, there’s some issues that the other side may try to bring up and say, well, we don’t know what happened to you, you say that. But you might have fell down your steps and decided to go after the guy who’s in the car for your damages. So, but most of the time, your injuries kind of line up with what happened to you. And as long as you’re detailed in that, that conversation with your doctor, your care provider, whoever it is, a lot of people run to the emergency room. And I don’t know that that’s good or bad. Honestly, I don’t know that that really creates any great thing or non great thing. The real issue is that you get treatment, the best treatment for you, and how are you feel the most comfortable getting that treatment? That’s what’s important. They can’t micromanage what kind of treatment you get and what kind of treatment you don’t get.
Jackie Critzer 5:46
Sure. Sure. Well, so first step, get checked out whether if it’s emergent, go to the emergency room, if they if someone there, maybe police officer has called for an ambulance, you probably should go in the ambulance. And we’re not talking about situations where there were substances involved with you, that’s a totally different podcast, please take exception that is not this podcast, this is the person who’s been injured, no substances involved as the driver of a vehicle, okay, or passenger of a vehicle.
Scott Cardani 6:18
Somebody is in the vehicle with you.
Jackie Critzer 6:20
Right… First thing, get treatment, whether at the emergency room, patient first, your own doctor, I mean, nine o’clock at night, you’re not going to get to your own doctor. But maybe you don’t have to go to the emergency room. But the point is get seen get evaluated because it makes a record of of what happened. And that’s the start of the record.
Scott Cardani 6:38
And I know it’s hard. I’m gonna say this one more time, because I think it needs to be emphasized, don’t refuse the ride to the hospital, if the cop thinks you’re in bad enough shape to get a ride, or somebody at the scene thinks you’re you need that ride to that, take it, it won’t hurt you. I realize everybody’s trying to worry about the money and they don’t want to spend the money on a medical bill and all this, I get it, I really do get it. But if you were injured by somebody else that should be eventually covered anyways, it’s so much better to just get checked out. Because then you have this whole argument. Well, you didn’t think you needed even the cop that you need to be you did that, you know. So it’s kind of ratty there. But anyways, we’ll move on from that.
Jackie Critzer 7:13
All right, what, what’s the next important thing,
Scott Cardani 7:16
I think the next most important thing is collecting the evidence start to realize that you’re in an accident. So for instance, if you are able to get out of your car, and you feel fine, start taking a picture of your car, their car, most people have a phone nowadays as camera on it, take videos, take pictures, whatever you need to do, you know, getting the other person’s information. There are a number of times in my career, where we didn’t know the other person because they took off. So you know, if you’re alright, enough and sound of mind, again, obviously, if you’re really hurt, don’t worry about any of that. I mean, you can collect the evidence that you can later. But you know, I had one lady who snapped a picture of the license plate in front of and the guy just took off and she was had she not had that license plate, we’d had nothing. So there are people who get have accidents and injure you. Most of the people are really good people. And they’re like, so sorry, they hurt you, there are a few, they’ll get so scared or whatever, maybe they’ve been under the influence or something, they want to get the heck out of there. And it’s much better for them to run in their mind. It usually doesn’t help them. But that’s what you have to deal with. So collecting evidence, like write down that if you get transported to a hospital, you’re unfamiliar with it, try to get that record from them just before you leave, say, can I get a copy of my medical record, we’ll probably get a different copy that we need. But all that helps me track where you’ve been who you’ve talked to, you go to your primary care physician, make sure you write that down everybody you talk to all those things are important because you’re basically building your case and showing that you were hurt. And this is what I did when I was hurt. And this is what my car looked like, I can’t believe the number of people who never even think to take a picture of their car. I mean, totally outside. And I had never thought about that. Take that picture, take a picture of their car, take a picture of the intersection, take a picture of anything around molding on the Honda, on the ground beside you flat tires, whatever it may be. All that shows the level of damage. And again, don’t feel like you have to do that if you’re so injured. The biggest thing if you’re really injured, stay where you are, let the professionals get you out of the car, all those things. But if you’re already out of the car, and you’re moving around, start saving some pictures and get as much information. The other piece of information is always critical. And nobody ever seems to know is witnesses. Almost every single time. There’s somebody who saw it. One of my favorite cases wasn’t really it wasn’t really an automobile accident, but it was it was an injury in a store. And we would have lost that case but for the one lady who saw the whole thing, and my lady just was smart enough on the ground. She was on the ground or back and hadn’t asked lady, what’s your name? And we were able to trace her down. Had we not had her, and she certainly didn’t want to get involved. And I sort of understood that, but that’s what turned the case. So especially automobile accidents, very rarely do they happen where nobody’s around, you know, even if the innocent bystandard stops by just check, say you, you’re right. You know, they may not want to give me your name, snap a picture of their license plate, whatever you need to do. Try to get those people that are around may have saw it, because that’s so important because that cooperate your story, you know, you’re going through red light, and this guy just ran and clobbered you. There’s usually five or six people around who can all verify Yes, she was absolutely in the right, she was going through like it was green, and that guy just clobbered her.
Jackie Critzer 10:37
One. And when you ask one person who saw the accident, you’re gonna get just the one perspective. But I assure you, if there are four or five people, you’re gonna get different viewpoints, and they might not all align. Okay? But it is important to get the people who were there and saw the accident. It’s just like that movie. My cousin Vinnie. I’m sure lots of people have seen that. But they saw different things. And you know, they had the one witness the older woman on the stand, she said, No, for sure. I can identify these two. And then what’s his name? The the lead? Yeah. He walks to the back of the courtroom, and they asked the lady, how many fingers is he holding? She can’t see she can’t see him in the courtroom. She couldn’t see these, these two men coming and going from the gas station. But but that stuff happens in real life.
Scott Cardani 11:24
It really does. Yeah, and again, you know, they’re going to try to the other side, whether it’s the insurance company, or the person who owns a car, they’re gonna try to say, it didn’t happen, most likely, they’re gonna come and try, you know, most people don’t want to just pay. And I’m gonna give a point about that in one second. But so remember, they’re going to try to collect evidence against your interest. So you need to have all the evidence for your interest. So you know, it’s interesting in Virginia, and I’m sure this is like this in every other state, but I don’t practice in other states. But What’s always interesting to me say, Jackie hits me, right? She clobbers me, she gets out, Scott, I’m so sorry. I wasn’t paying attention. Whatever she says, she knows she’s at fault. Sure, her first response usually is how can I help get this solved? How can I fix it? Can I pay for your car, whatever. That’s great. When the insurance company gets involved, that whole line of communication is going to be cut, severed. And number two, even if Jackie wants to settle it, they’re not going to let her settle it unless they want to settle. And it really is a funky thing. And this is one of my pet peeves with personal injury. Automobile accidents, especially is because the person who did the accident has almost no say so. So they can almost bankrupt the person, the insurance company by not taking an offer that was reasonable and they could have dealt with it. I know we’re gonna win this case in court and they go to court and lose, guess who’s on the hook. They’re only on the hook for the amount that you’re insured for. So say you have a $50,000 limit. And Jackie’s like, well, I got $50,000 limit I you know, I’ll pay the person $60,000 You get out of this because I know I was at fault. Sure, guys, we ain’t doing that. We’re not We’re not settling. They have total power. You have no say. So it’s horrific. So then I go to take Jackie to court and we have this whole court and they of course the insurance company provides the defense but they lose. And the jury comes back and says it’s $2 million. Guess who? The insurance company walks away with a $50,000 Check. Bye bye. And guess who’s on the hook for the other? So a lot of people don’t know that. It’s a really interesting dynamic. It’s one it’s really bothered me throughout my life, because I see, I’ve had many, many times where I’ve had I’m deposing. The person who did the injury, the person who caused the accident, and he he’s like, I just want to get this settled. I know I was wrong, and they have no power to do it.
Jackie Critzer 13:45
Well, you’ve talked now a little bit about lawyers and court and all of that being involved, at what point to someone who’s been in a car accident and had medical treatment at one point, or should they be calling an attorney?
Scott Cardani 13:57
Yeah, this is number three, because not because it shouldn’t be number one sometimes, but you should call immediately. Call us – Critzer Cardani. Call somebody else and say, Hey, I was in an accident. Number one, we’re gonna give you that same advice, try to collect evidence, do all that stuff. If you’re in the hospital, have a family member or if you know somebody was in an accident call for them. Start to get that information you need, quite frankly, the initial consultation and stuff are free. Free. So, you don’t have to pay for it. But number two, you’re gonna get some needed advice. But this process takes a long time. So Jackie comes to me and says, Hey, I was in an accident what I need to do, and I’ll give her some steps. There’s not much I can do for a little while till she gets some treatment gets through treatment figures out what’s really wrong with there. So there’s going to be a little delay, obviously and call the lawyer back and get some information. Hey, do you know anybody? I can go to sure since in this should I follow up with this injury. We’re going to know a little bit of that but really that’s going to be to be between you and your medical provider but I will A lot of this process that starts, you have this tremendous crash, you have injuries, you have evidence, you call the lawyer. But that’s really important because he’s gonna guide you in what you need to do or what you haven’t done. But then there’s this kind of lag time where you’re getting help, you’re getting healed, you’re getting treatment, you’re getting the things done. So you can get back to close to where you were as possible. There’s a two year statute of limitation on personal injury or always remember that so if something isn’t filed with the court, or the court cases and settled within two years from the date of your accident, so if it’s April 18 2022, by April 18 2024, something has to be done, or you lose your right to even go after it. So that’s a part of this. So the lawyer mediately, first thing I do when you call me is like, When was your accent, and then I put that tickler in my calendar. So I know, everything has to be done. It doesn’t mean it’s gonna take two years. But the point is that everything has to be done by then.
Jackie Critzer 15:56
Well, it has to be filed in the Court to preserve your rights.
Scott Cardani 15:59
Yes. And during the COVID era, especially when we were not going into court. That was you had to really keep those things straight. Because everything just went to his grind, you know, whether we were doing anything or settling anything, everything just kind everybody knew we were going to court. So it was kind of this whole grind.
Jackie Critzer 16:13
So would you say that sometimes it’s important to call an attorney right after the accident happens, I mean, with within a reasonable period of time, but soon, because sometimes we can send an investigator to where the accident happened, pictures, I mean, skid marks and or if there was damage to a fence or a light pole or things like that. Those aren’t always notated in a police report. And it may not be accurate. Not that the police get it wrong, but you want to have someone out there who can take pictures of, of the scene. To make sure that because if you have four or five witnesses with four or five different perspectives, the evidence that you get after the accident by sending out an investigator to take photographs, and to do some evidence collecting will probably nullify some of those perspectives, and also then validate some of the others.
Scott Cardani 17:04
Yeah, and it’s really tricky. And you know, sometimes you’re in a multi car accident. And you may think this guy caused the accident, the first guy, and the evidence may turn that the last guy really caused the accident, and he pushed everybody and everybody else and the importance of getting that lawyer and getting that help right off the bat as soon as possible. I mean, even the same day, it’s okay to call a lawyer, if you’re able to have some of your family say, Hey, can you call me some I get some help. So we can start just pointing you in the right direction and start to get you rolling. For me, I don’t necessarily – I’m not gonna say okay, you need to sign a retainer today. I’m going to talk to you and give you the advice you need, and try to keep you moving in the right direction and collecting that evidence and going to get the physical and checked out getting the help you need those kinds of things. Because that’s where all this is going to lie. You know, sometimes, sometimes it takes years to get back to where you were. And quite frankly, the older you are, the less likely you are to get back to normal. One of the big things in in the insurance company is soft tissue that should have resolved by now.
Jackie Critzer 18:05
What is soft tissue?
Scott Cardani 18:06
It’s muscular, you know, those kind of things where most people heal from those. But, you know, everybody thinks it takes 10 weeks, or you know, two months, but sometimes that takes forever. And you know, if you’re not, the other thing is if you’re not working the treatment, so say, um, Jackie’s going to physical therapy every day, but she’s not doing the home exercises, she they’re gonna bring all that up, they’re gonna know that they’re gonna ask you, were you doing the home exercises, and then if you live with your mom, and your mom takes a stand to say how horribly this impacted your life, and then ask questions, was she doing this weird exercise like that? I never saw her do those. Right? You know what I mean? So really follow the treatment recommendations, really do all the things that you’re supposed to do get the help you need, contact a lawyer.
Jackie Critzer 18:47
So all three things really are interconnected. But in summary, the first thing if you are involved in an accident and you’re injured in an accident, first thing first, go get treatment. Get checked out, whether it’s help through the emergency room – or patient first, or some sort of urgent care, or even your primary care physician. If that’s what the level of injury you have, get the help get medically checked out first. And then what?
Scott Cardani 19:13
Yeah, document that. Secondly, start to collect the evidence. Write down every place you went, what you’re doing, even you know, like what you were doing before all those things start to make, start to collect your evidence if you have, take the pictures. So collect evidence, police reports, anything you can get your hands on, collect that.
Jackie Critzer 19:32
And last but not least, call an attorney as soon as you can to help guide you through this process.
Scott Cardani 19:39
Call Critzer Cardani. We’re here to help.
Jackie Critzer 19:42
Scott Cardani 19:43
Have a good day.
What To Do When… Outro 19:43
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