After hitting your head in a car accident, the first thing you can do is seek medical attention to understand the extent of your injuries. From there, you can file a claim, contact a lawyer, and even file a personal injury lawsuit if necessary. You can also take steps to protect your legal rights after an accident. A head injury attorney can manage your case’s many obligations while you focus on healing.
Get Prompt Medical Attention After a Car Accident Head Injury
You may hit your head and feel fine. That doesn’t mean you didn’t sustain an injury. The Mayo Clinic reports that traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can take days or weeks to manifest symptoms, including ones that indicate a severe injury. Don’t wait until then to get help. Getting a medical evaluation can identify problems and prevent them from worsening.
Mayo Clinic reports that some symptoms of a head injury that warrant medical attention include:
- Physical symptoms, like headaches, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, or seizures
- Sensory symptoms, like ringing in the ears, blurred vision, or changes in smell
- Cognitive symptoms, like confusion or issues with memory or concentration
- Behavioral symptoms, like mood swings, depression, anxiety, or agitation
Even if you hit your head and didn’t injure your brain, you can still suffer from facial or dental injuries that require care. Medical attention can help prevent scarring and disfigurement.
Medical Care Assesses Your Injuries
Determining the level of injury you suffered may require seeing specialists and undergoing diagnostic testing. For more severe head injuries, you may need a hospital stay.
Understandably, this may cause concerns about costs. Neurologists, CT scans and MRIs, and rehabilitation specialists can wrack up bills. Indeed, inpatient stays for TBIs can cost 74 percent more than those for other injuries, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
However, don’t let money concerns keep you from getting checked out. Doctors can mitigate some of the risks and complications of TBIs and other head injuries with proper care and prevention. Moreover, you can recoup the expenses through an injury claim or lawsuit. In fact, visiting a doctor can help preserve that possibility.
Visiting a Doctor Creates a Paper Trail of Your Condition
In addition to addressing your needs and preventing complications, receiving medical care creates tangible evidence of your injury in the form of:
- Office visits
- Diagnostic tests
- Doctors’ notes
- Specialist consultations
- Treatment plans
These items not only treat your injury but also prove it exists. TBI symptoms are sometimes subtle but intrusive, like preventing you from working for long periods, making it hard to multitask, or disrupting coordination. Proving pain or cognitive difficulties can be more challenging than proving, say, a broken bone. So, having documentation that you sought treatment establishes that you needed treatment for something in the first place.
Even so, you aren’t out of luck if you didn’t realize the extent of your injuries and waited to seek help. A lawyer can still demonstrate your struggles with other evidence, like testimony from friends and family, reports from work, or details from the accident itself that show you hit your head.
The Importance of Following Your Treatment Plan
Seeking medical attention is just the beginning of your medical journey. It’s also vital that you follow through with your doctor’s prescribed treatment plan. This may involve attending physical therapy, limiting your activity, and taking time off work. However, these things may not appeal to you.
By forgoing your treatment plan, you risk:
- Putting your health in jeopardy. Head injuries need consistent medical care. Starting and stopping a treatment plan could prevent you from making a full recovery.
- Allowing the insurer to discredit your case. If the insurer learns that you disregarded your treatment plan, it could offer less than you need.
- Undermining the severity of your condition. You want to show the insurer that because you suffered a serious head injury, you deserve compensation. Yet, to show that your injury is serious, you need as much medical documentation as possible.
Notify Your Insurance Company About Hitting Your Head
Once you receive medical attention, contact your insurance company about the accident if you are cognizant enough to do so. Tell your auto insurance carrier about the collision—even if you didn’t cause it.
Keeping the insurer in the loop from the start can:
- Start the claims process quickly
- Establish that an accident and injury occurred
- Illustrate that you are taking this incident seriously and intend to seek damages
- Protects you from allegations of fault or negligence
Failing or taking too long to report an accident can give the liable insurer reason to discredit your claim. You want to do everything possible to give your case the best possible chance at a fair outcome.
Dos and Don’ts for Talking to Insurance Providers
Notifying an insurance company about a car accident doesn’t necessarily mean giving a full, official statement.
After hitting your head in a crash, you only have to provide:
- Your insurance policy number and contact information
- The other party’s insurance details and contact information
- The makes, models, and years of the vehicles involved
- The time, date, and location of the accident
- Basic facts of what happened (such as whether you sought medical attention)
You are not obligated to guess why the accident happened, who was responsible, or how injured you are. The insurance company (as well as your legal team) can conduct an investigation to answer those questions.
While the insurer evaluates your claim, avoid:
- Apologizing for your part in the crash
- Assuming anything about what happened
- Accepting a settlement offer without reviewing it
- Answering any questions you aren’t prepared for
- Providing information beyond basic details
A car accident lawyer can handle all communications with an insurance company. They can evaluate settlement offers, determine fault, and gather evidence supporting your account of the collision.
Consider Finding a Lawyer Experienced With Car Accident Cases
You can contact a lawyer any time after you hit your head in an auto accident, even before you know the extent of your injuries and losses.
If you don’t already have a car accident lawyer, find one with:
- Experience dealing with auto accident cases
- Answers to your questions (or a commitment to finding answers)
- Contingency-fee-based arrangements
- Clear answers, goals, strategies, and advice
- References they can provide to verify their work
You want a lawyer who takes your case just as seriously as you do. That way, they can fight for your case’s best possible outcome, whether that means filing an insurance claim or going to court.
Check Their Credentials
In addition to the information you get directly from a potential lawyer, you can conduct your own research. Honors for their work, particularly those awarded by peers rather than vanity awards, can illustrate that an attorney is knowledgeable in their area.
Even more revealing are case results. Some lawyers list them on their site and provide details about specific cases that either settled or reached a favorable verdict. You can look for cases relating to car accidents and head injuries. While each case’s settlement or verdict amounts vary, a lawyer with successful conclusions clearly pursues cases to the end.
Finally, look at what others say. Recommendations from friends and family can provide a starting point. Reviews and testimonials can shed light on clients’ actual experiences with a firm. Check both the testimonials listed on the firm’s site and search engine reviews to get the full picture.
An Attorney Can Manage Your Case-Related Obligations
A serious head injury can affect your mobility, day-to-day function, and overall quality of life. You shouldn’t have to tackle a complicated legal case in a time like this. You deserve to have a legal professional advocate for what you need.
An attorney can manage your case’s logistics, including:
- All communications with insurance representatives, attorneys, and other parties involved in your crash
- Paperwork review and negotiation, including insurance policies and settlement terms
- Evidence compilation, such as medical records, police reports, eyewitness accounts, and expert testimony
- Accessing care and setting up appointments, even as you wait to receive compensation
Whatever your case needs to reach a fair conclusion, an attorney can handle it.
Find out What You Could Receive for Hitting Your Head in a Crash
Know your worth! Insurance companies bank on you not realizing the value of your claim. Stay wary of early settlement offers that couldn’t possibly include all your expenses. If you haven’t reached maximum medical improvement, any settlement likely isn’t accounting for all eventualities.
Your lawyer, along with doctors and financial experts, can identify the full scope of what you could receive.
Damages in a head injury case can cover expenses like:
- Ambulance rides
- Emergency care
- Hospital bills
- Walking aids
- Lost income
- Reduced earning ability
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Diminished quality of life
The list could go on. Indeed, your attorney can work to catalog all your losses and fight to receive compensation.
A Lawyer Can Consider Care Years Into the Future
Unlike other injuries that are solved with casts or surgeries, treating a TBI can require therapy, pain management, and coping skills—treatment focused more on guidance for a chronic condition than a single solution to a problem. Insurance companies like tidy numbers, but a lawyer can fight for more realistic considerations that account for the unique risks and complications of head injuries.
They can pursue compensation for projected costs like:
- Long-term medications
- At-home care and equipment
- Counseling and mental health support
- Regular therapies
- Reduced income or permanent job loss
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 30 percent of TBI victims worsen after five years. An estimated 55 percent are not employed despite having a job prior to the injury. These outcomes illustrate the need for long-term considerations in injury settlements.
Consider Filing a Lawsuit Against the At-Fault Party
Most states require motorists to carry auto insurance. However, this doesn’t mean that all insurers process claims in good faith. When that happens, you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault party and pursue what you need through litigation. As noted, you can entrust this obligation to a car accident lawyer.
Stay Aware of the Statute of Limitations
Think of filing a lawsuit as just another step of the claims process, rather than the beginning or end of your case. Many steps can precede and follow the filing that could successfully conclude your case long before you show up in court.
As a result, the statute of limitations functions as a deadline to initiate your case. Before filing, you and your legal team can focus on compiling and preserving evidence, reviewing settlement offers, and letting you heal. After filing, negotiations can continue, and your case’s logistics can shift to preparing a strategy for court.
The statute of limitations depends on many aspects of your situation, including where you live and when the accident happened. If you wait too long to take legal action (and the statutory deadline expires), you could lose the right to seek damages altogether. This could leave you with few (if any) options for seeking compensation.
After Hitting Your Head in a Car Accident, Ask for Medical and Legal Help
The bottom line? After you hit your head, you should ask for help regarding your case and your health. If possible, do what you can to establish a record of your injury and its consequences on your life. Limit what you say to an insurance company to protect your damages. Finally, consider contacting a car accident lawyer to handle the case for you while you focus on rehabilitation.