Being involved in an accident that leaves you unable to work for an extended period of time can make life very difficult, especially if you’re already living paycheck to paycheck. There are many people who end up having their lives spiral out of control when they’re injured through no fault of their own because they don’t know what steps to take after the accident occurs. The following guide provides valuable steps you can use to ensure you don’t lose everything you worked so hard to earn just because you were involved in an accident.

Go to See a Doctor Right Away

When you are injured, it’s best to go to the doctor as quickly as you can. There are some people who are head strong and assume that they will be able to take care of themselves only to find out later on that the pain is too intense for them to bear and then they head to the hospital. If you wait to seek medical treatment, the other person can claim that you were injured after the last time that they saw you, and it’ll be very hard to prove what happened during the accident.

When you go to the doctor, be sure to get copies of any information that he or she gathers. You need to be able to provide the information directly to your attorney and to the insurance company so that you can prove the severity of your injuries.

Ask Your Doctor About the Recovery Process

Before you leave the doctor’s office, it’s a good idea to find out what the recovery process will be. Find out if you will have to have physical therapy, any surgeries, and how long it will take before you can go back to work. This allows you to estimate how much you have to pay in total for the care that you need.

Hire an Attorney

When you are involved in an accident, it’s important to contact an attorney right away so that you can understand your rights. People often make the mistake of assuming that an insurance company will automatically pay their medical bills, the time they miss from work and the pain and agony that they go through during the healing process, but this is often not the case.

Insurance companies are in the business of making money. Most companies will try to pay you as little as possible and some will even try to avoid compensating you altogether. Hiring an attorney allows him or her to fight for you so that you can get as much money as possible for the damages that were done to you.

Don’t Contact the Insurance Company

There is a good chance that the other person’s insurance company will try to reach out to you soon after the incident takes place. It’s important to defer the company to your attorney so that he or she can take care of the arrangements for you. The insurance company will more than likely try to get you to agree to take a settlement payment that will be far less than it would be if you fought for the maximum compensation in court. The attorney is likely to have experience with similar situations and know what bills you’re responsible for now and in the future. You should never discuss or agree to a specific dollar amount when contacted by an insurance company.

Contact Your Work

You need to contact your employer right away to let him or her know that you have been involved in an accident. You need to provide them with an estimate for how long you will be out of work and what your limitations will be upon your return. If you anticipate missing a lot of work, you shouldn’t have to worry about losing your job. The Family Medical and Leave Act makes it unlawful for employers to fire you simply because you are injured and missing work.

Your employer shouldn’t threaten you about attendance, even if you’re injured or will lose your job because it’s against the law to do so. If an employer does choose to terminate your employment during this period of time, you can file a claim with the Secretary of Labor and have them hold him or her accountable for their decision.

Have a Hardship Letter Created

Talk to your attorney about the financial hardship you’re facing. If you know that you aren’t going to be able to make ends meet during this time, you can talk to your attorney about having a hardship letter created, which can be used to lift some of the financial burden you’re facing. Writing a hardship letter to a utility company, cable provider or a property management company can be hard to do if you haven’t written one before. The letter will let employers know why you aren’t able to pay them and make requests to adjust payment due dates. The attorney knows what to include in the letter to make sure that all of your bases are covered.

Contact Your Debtors

Once you have a hardship letter created, you need to contact your debtors. Avoiding them may put you in a very stressful position financially. It’s best to let them know what’s going on and provide them with a copy of the letter. Most debtors will work with you because of the extreme circumstances involved in your situation. They usually understand that you won’t be working and have to wait to get the money from the insurance claim before you’ll be able to pay. They are often able to defer or lessen the amount that’s owed each month to accommodate your unique financial situation.

It’ll take time to get a settlement from an insurance company so it’s best to make a claim as quickly as you can. Bills will continue to pile up while you are waiting for the insurance payment and letting your attorney handle the claim for you from the start can lessen the amount of time it takes for you to get the money that you need.