A car accident is very stressful and introduces a number of unpleasant realities: pain and disability plus financial woes to name a few. Take these 11 steps in the early days after your accident to protect your settlement later on.

#1: Keep a record of all expenses and days lost from work due to your injuries. Your lawyer will get written documentation from your employer to verify the lost earnings. If your injuries are preventing you from returning to work or school, ask your doctor for a note confirming you cannot attend.

#2: Keep track of the time spent by friends and family to look after you and to take over your household and family obligations.

#3: Keep all bills and receipts related to your accident. If you don’t save them, you may not be able to prove the amount of your damages. Be sure to save everything: hospital charges, pharmacy bills, therapy bills and all other bills you incurred because of your accident. If you buy over-the-counter pain medicine, heating pads, crutches, clothing to go over casts or braces, or similar items, you may be able to recover these expenses.

#4: Know all your injuries. Injuries caused by accidents may not develop into symptoms for days — even weeks. As a result, in the days following your accident, you must avoid describing your injuries with the claims adjuster.

#5: Do not ignore the emotional toll of an accident. If you are having flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, fear or sleep disturbance, you might benefit from a psychological assessment. Ask your doctor for a referral. If your doctor or family members suggest this type of treatment, take them up on it.

#6: Keep a journal of your experiences. Record sleepless nights, pain relief needs and limitations on your regular activities. Make a note of special events, hobbies or outings that you missed because of the accident.

#7: Know your sources for insurance coverage. Often an accident victim can legitimately benefit from multiple insurance policies simultaneously. Yet many accident victims don’t know where to look for various insurance coverages. Your lawyer will help you determine whether you can collect from more than one policy.

We know some of these steps can be tough if you are injured… A personal injury lawyer can relieve you of most of the burden by assuming responsibility for many of these tasks.

#8: Follow your physician’s orders until your physician determines you are released. Many people stop going to their doctor, before the doctor releases them from treatment. Your doctor knows the complications that could result from your injury. The type of injury may be complex and the mere fact that you are no longer in pain does not mean that your injuries have fully healed. If you are referred to treatment with a therapist who is not covered by OHIP, your own insurance company may pay for the service. Your lawyer can help you access these benefits.

#9: Consider and be prepared to file a lawsuit if the settlement offer is not fair. After your rehabilitation is complete, get ready to issue your legal claim.

Insurance companies usually get serious about settling your claim if they see that they will have to start paying lawyers to defend your lawsuit.

#10: Ask a qualified, experienced personal injury trial lawyer to evaluate your case. You probably had a doctor evaluate your injuries. Don’t you think it is sensible to have a legal professional evaluate your potential legal claim? An experienced personal injury trial lawyer can help you by reviewing your file. He/she will carefully review the police report, doctors’ statements, therapy bills, time lost from work and other information. Then, he/she can give you an informed opinion about the estimated value of your case. If you’d like us to evaluate your case, please don’t hesitate to call.

#11: If you decide to hire a lawyer, choose one who isn’t afraid to go to court. Insurance companies and their lawyers keep tabs on plaintiff side lawyers. They know which lawyers will take them to court — the fighters. And they know which lawyers will not go to court — the settlers. The fighters usually get more money for their clients than the settlers. Take the time to review your situation with an experienced accident lawyer.