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Braden A. Blumenstiel, JD April 30, 2024

Driving is an absolute necessity in today’s society. Every day, millions of people drive to work, go shopping, travel, etc. Most people get to their destination without incident. Unfortunately, a small percentage of people will be involved in an auto accident. Those people often acquire physical injuries and expenses they would not have had to pay if the accident hadn’t happened.

If this happened to you, you may be wondering if you’re entitled to compensation and what you can do to ensure you get all the financial compensation you’re entitled to.

There are many things you can do right after an auto accident to ensure you receive all the financial compensation you deserve. Here are 10 of them:

  1. Obtain a traffic crash report

  2. Document the scene of the accident

  3. Identify any eyewitnesses and obtain their contact information

  4. Obtain liability insurance information from the person who caused the accident

  5. Get medical attention ASAP and follow doctor’s orders

  6. Gather evidence and hang on to documents

  7. Use caution when talking to insurance companies and insurance adjusters

  8. Keep off social media

  9. Don’t take the first offer

  10. Call an auto accident attorney


Obtain a Traffic Crash Report

One of the first things you need to do following an auto accident is contact the police so they can:

  • Investigate the accident,

  • Secure evidence from the accident site, and

  • Write a traffic crash report.

An auto accident scene contains a lot of important evidence that you will need to help maximize the compensation you receive. A traffic crash report lists important information about the accident, such as:

  • Witness statements regarding who caused the accident and the severity of the impact,

  • Weather and lighting conditions at the time of the accident,

  • The date and time of the accident,

  • Location of the accident,

  • Citations identifying who caused the accident and how,

  • Photographs of the damage sustained by the vehicles involved, and

  • Other evidence relevant to the accident and damages sustained by those involved.

In order to receive any compensation for the damages you sustained in a car accident, you need to demonstrate you are not at fault and the accident was caused by the person driving the other vehicle. The police officer will usually determine who is at fault for the accident after he/she completes an investigation of the accident scene. During the investigation, the police officer will usually photograph the vehicles involved in the accident. Photographs of the damage sustained by the vehicles will help demonstrate the severity of the impact involved. The more significant the damage to the vehicles involved in the accident, the more likely it is the insurance adjuster handling your claim will believe you sustained serious injuries in the accident. Witness statements are also often obtained during the traffic crash investigation. Those witness statements can help establish the liability of the person who caused the accident, the severity of the impact involved in the accident, and the injuries sustained by the people involved in the accident.

Even if your car accident is minor, you need to have the police come to the scene of the accident, conduct an investigation, and preserve evidence. This will help when filing an insurance claim or pursuing a personal injury lawsuit.

Document The Accident Scene

Sometimes, the police are unable to come to the accident scene. When that occurs, you will need to document the scene yourself. You will need to personally collect the evidence from the accident scene that proves you are not at fault. You will also need to collect evidence representing the extent of your injuries and damages. Documenting the scene of the accident does not have to be complex. The most important thing you can do at the scene is to use your cell phone to take pictures of important evidence, such as:

  • Your car,

  • The other driver’s car,

  • The scene of the crash,

  • The license plates of the other cars involved in the accident,

  • The skid marks (if any) resulting from the driver(s) hitting their brakes right before the accident occurred, and

  • Any visible injuries sustained in the accident.


Identify Any Eyewitnesses and Obtain their Contact Information

While the scene of the accident is being documented, it is also very important to identify and obtain the contact information of every person who witnessed the accident. Their testimony is very important and is needed to help establish things such as who caused the accident and the severity of the accident. Independent eyewitness testimony is very powerful evidence which you will need when trying to resolve your claim and maximize the compensation you receive.

Obtain Liability Insurance Information from the Person Who Caused the Accident

Under Ohio law, anyone driving an auto is required to have auto liability insurance. In order to file a claim for compensation following an accident, you will need to know which insurance company to submit your claim to. This information will usually be obtained by any police officer investigating the accident. If no police officer is available, you will need to obtain this information yourself. Ask the other driver for a copy of their proof of insurance (i.e., their insurance card) and take a photograph of the front and back. You can use that information to contact the insurance company and submit a claim.

Although it is against the law, many drivers continue to drive without insurance. Others have very minimal liability policy limits (sometimes as low as $12,500). The lack of insurance can impact your ability to obtain compensation. However, if you are in a car accident with a driver who does not have insurance, you may be able to utilize your own auto insurance policy to obtain compensation. In Ohio, every auto insurance company must offer a type of insurance called “uninsured/underinsured motorist protection”. You can obtain this through your own policy, and it will provide compensation to you in the event the person who caused your accident has no auto insurance or their policy limits are insufficient to fully compensate you. If this happens, you should contact your own insurance company to determine whether you have uninsured/underinsured motorist protection. If you do, you can file a claim with your own insurance policy company for compensation.

Get Medical Attention ASAP and Follow Your Doctor’s Orders

If you sustained injury in an auto accident, you should obtain medical treatment as soon as possible. To obtain compensation for your injuries, you will be required to prove the specific injuries you sustained in the accident.

The best way to prove this is through medical evidence. As soon as you realize you have been injured in an auto accident, you should seek medical treatment for those injuries. Depending on the type and severity of your injuries, you may seek medical treatment from an emergency room, urgent care center, your primary care physician, or other medical provider. Your medical providers will play an integral role in your claim. The nature and extent of your injuries will typically be proven through testimony of one or more of your medical providers and the medical records associated with the injuries you sustained in the accident.

When you seek treatment, it is important you notify your medical provider that you were in an auto accident, and you need to specify which injuries you sustained in the accident. This will help the medical provider properly treat your injuries and keep accurate records regarding the injuries (including what medical treatment you received and the likely prognosis). Complete and accurate medical documentation will help ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

By seeking medical treatment early for your accident-related injuries, you will benefit in two primary ways. First, and most importantly, you will increase the chances your injuries fully heal. The longer you wait to seek medical treatment after an accident, the less likely it is your injuries will ever fully resolve. Second, by obtaining necessary medical treatment early on, you protect yourself from a common argument insurance adjusters and defense attorneys make. When someone seeks compensation for accident-related injuries, insurance adjusters and defense attorneys will look for “gaps in treatment”. A “gap in treatment” occurs whenever someone involved in an auto accident goes without medical treatment for any period of time. The “gap in treatment” can occur immediately after the accident or several weeks or months after the accident if the injured individual stops receiving medical treatment for any extended period of time.

Insurance adjusters and defense counsel use “gaps in treatment” to argue the injuries complained of either didn’t happen or weren’t significant. By obtaining needed medical treatment soon after the accident, and by receiving consistent medical treatment in accordance with your medical provider’s orders, you will help ensure there are no “gaps in treatment” which may inaccurately suggest you were not injured in the accident and/or your injuries were minor and resolved quickly.

In addition to using “gaps in treatment” argument against you, insurance adjusters and defense counsel will closely scrutinize your pre-accident medical records in an attempt to find a “pre-existing condition”. A “pre-existing condition” is the terms used to describe a medical condition which existed before the accident you were in. The insurance adjuster and/or defense attorney will use any “pre-existing condition” they can find to limit the compensation you receive by arguing the injuries you allege occurred in the accident actually occurred before the crash happened and, therefore, they could not have been sustained in the accident. By obtaining necessary medical treatment shortly after the accident and notifying your medical provider of the fact you were involved in a crash, the medical provider will be in a better position to carefully document the exact injuries you sustained. This will help the medical provider differentiate the injuries you sustained in the accident from any medical problems you had before. By having the appropriate documentation obtained shortly after your accident, you can help negate the effectiveness of the “pre-existing condition” argument and, consequently, maximize the compensation you receive for your action-related injuries.

Carefully documenting the nature and extent of your injuries through medical treatment will help you heal as quickly as possible and maximize the compensation you obtain for your injuries. Therefore, seek medical treatment as soon as possible, inform your medical providers of the injuries you sustained, and closely follow your medical providers’ advice any time you sustain injuries as a result of being in an auto accident.


Gather Evidence and Hang on to Documents

To maximize the compensation you receive for your injuries and damages following an auto accident, you will need a wide variety of evidence supporting your claim.

There are two types of damages someone incurs as a result of an auto accident. The first kind is called “special damages”. These types of damages are financial in nature and can be proven with documentation. The most common types of “special damages” evidence you will need to provide in support of your claim are as follows:

  • Medical bills for medical treatment incurred for your accident-related injuries,

  • Repair bills for damage to your vehicle,

  • Evidence of lost income or wages you sustained because you could not work after the accident,

  • Reduced future earning capability (if your injuries are permanent and severe enough that you cannot return to your prior employment).

In addition to “special damages”, people involved in auto accidents also suffer “pain and suffering damages”. “Pain and suffering damages” are not necessarily financial in nature and cannot be easily proven by documentation, but you are entitled to compensation for those damages under Ohio law. “Pain and suffering damages” are more individualized, personal, and harder to prove.

The “pain” portion of “pain and suffering damages” involves the physical sensation of pain someone experiences as a result of being injured in the accident. The location, duration, frequency, type, and severity of pain varies significantly between different people. The “suffering” portion of “pain and suffering damages” involves the emotional, psychological, and cognitive damage people experience after they have been injured in an auto accident. Feelings of depression and hopelessness can often arise as a result of the physical pain and limitations people experience following an auto accident. Frequently, people involved in an auto accident can no longer engage in the types of activities that brought them joy before the accident occurred. For example, the injured person may no longer be able to exercise, engage in hobbies, or play with their children as they had before. Those limitations can have a very significant impact on the person’s emotional, psychological, and cognitive health.

Being in an auto accident can fundamentally change almost all aspects of a person’s life. If you have experienced any of these types of damages, it is important that you make note of the pain and suffering you have been forced to endure. Writing a journal in which you describe the physical pain you experience and how your injuries negatively impact your life is a good way to preserve evidence associated with pain and suffering damages. Months and years can sometimes elapse before a personal injury claim is resolved. If you keep a journal documenting your pain and suffering, you can refer to it to refresh your memory about what it was like for you after the accident.


Use Caution When Talking to Insurance Companies

Despite what they claim, insurance companies are not there to help you after an auto accident. An insurance company and their representatives will do their best to pay you as little as possible for the injuries and damages you sustained in the accident. Many insurance companies may even deny your claim for baseless reasons. That’s why you must make sure you are incredibly cautious when dealing with them.

Sometimes the insurance company for the person who caused the accident will call you to obtain information. You do not have to speak with them and should refuse to speak with them if you are represented by an attorney. If, by chance, the insurance company calls you before you retain an attorney and you decide to speak with them, be very careful about what you say. The insurance company representative will likely ask you about how the accident occurred, who you believe caused the accident, whether you were hurt in the accident, etc. The insurance company representative is not asking for this information so he or she can help you. The representative is asking for this information so the insurance company can evaluate the likely compensation it will have to pay you for your injuries and damages, and so it can “lock in” your story and use it against you in the future, if needed. It is very common that people do not understand the true nature and extent of their injuries for several days or weeks after the accident. Under such circumstances, they may underreport the nature and severity of their injuries. If they fail to report all their injuries to the insurance company, the insurance company will use that against them later to justify offering less compensation than the person actually deserves.

Another common tactic of insurance companies is to make a lowball offer of settlement as soon as possible. Settling quickly and cheaply is in the insurance company’s best interest, not yours. You should only settle your claim when you are certain what your injuries are, what medical treatment you require for those injuries, what the future prognosis for your injuries are, and what damages you have incurred and will incur in the future as a result of this accident.

If an insurance company is contacting you after an auto accident, it would be a good idea to refrain from speaking with them and contact an experienced attorney to handle your injury claim. The attorney will provide the insurance company with the necessary information – and only that. The attorney will also advocate for your best interests, so you receive all of the compensation to which you are entitled.


Keep Off Social Media

Although social media can be fun, it can also give a false impression of how you feel following an auto accident. A car accident is a significant event, but it’s not one people usually want to discuss publicly on social media. People typically post happy or fun things about themselves. It’s not as fun to post about your struggles and difficulties. While it is totally understandable to present yourself in the best and happiest light, insurance adjusters and defense attorneys will often go on to an injured person’s social media account to collect evidence that can be used to diminish the compensation offered to the injured person. The insurance company’s legal team could distort your comments, videos, and photos. For instance, if you sustained injuries to your legs and back in an accident but post pictures of yourself smiling and engaged in various activities, those photographs can be used against you when you try to argue that your injuries are severe and debilitating.

People with severe and debilitating injuries should be allowed to engage in fun activities whenever their body permits. The unfortunate thing about social media is that insurance adjusters and defense attorneys can cherry pick pictures and other things you post on your social media account and use it to argue that your injuries are not as severe or debilitating as you claim. Therefore, if you have been injured in an auto accident, be careful not to post things onto your social media accounts which give a misleading impression regarding the injuries you sustained and the negative impact your injuries have had on your life.


Don’t Take the First Offer

If you have been in an auto accident, you will likely receive a call from the insurance company of the person who caused the accident. You will probably receive this call within a few days or a couple weeks of the accident occurring. The insurance company will call you for a variety of reasons. One common reason is to make a lowball offer to settle your claim quickly. You may feel pressured to accept the initial settlement offer from the insurance company. Do not accept it. These companies often offer a quick, low-ball settlement, hoping the injured victims will accept it without realizing its inadequacy. If you accept a settlement offer, you will not be able to ask for additional money in the future if your injuries are more severe and long-lasting than you originally thought. Once you settle your claim, you are forever barred from seeking more money. Therefore, be very careful before you accept any offer of settlement and refrain from settling until you know the true nature and extent of your injuries. If you have any questions regarding an insurance company’s offer of settlement, you should consult with a personal injury attorney before you make the decision whether to accept the offer.


Call a Trusted Ohio Car Accident Attorney

We have thrown a lot of information at you regarding what to do to maximize the compensation you receive following an auto accident. Depending on the severity, nature, and extent of your injuries, you may or may not need to hire a personal injury attorney to represent your best interests. Unless you have very minimal injuries that have completely resolved and you have not required any medical treatment for those injuries for an extended period of time (i.e., months or years), you should confer with an experienced personal injury attorney before settling your claim.

Our experienced personal injury attorneys in Dublin, Ohio bring a deep understanding of Ohio law, refined negotiating skills, and a commitment to advocating for your best interests. We can significantly increase your chances of receiving maximum compensation for your injuries and damages sustained as a result of an auto accident.

Please note, the statute of limitations for Ohio auto accidents is found in Revised Code Section 2305.10. Under that law, any lawsuit based on an auto accident must be brought within two years from the date of the accident. If you do not file your case within the statute of limitations, your case can be dismissed. Therefore, if you have been the victim of an auto accident, it is important to hire an attorney as soon as possible.

If you have sustained injuries as a result of an auto accident you did not cause, our experienced personal injury team is ready to answer questions and help you receive the compensation you deserve. For additional information and assistance, please contact us at 614-389-9711.


The law gives Braden a pragmatic way to solve problems using his background in clinical psychology. He is a talented presenter in the courtroom, as he understands how to effectively question witnesses and relay information. He specializes in vaccine injury, personal injury, probate litigation, and business law, and has been recognized for his work by SuperLawyers.