The accident happened. Your car is totaled, your head is ringing and your neck is killing you. We discussed how to handle the scene in A Crash Course on Rideshare Accidents. But how do you protect your interests if injured?

It goes without saying that your health and safety are of chief importance. As a driver, your physical well-being is your livelihood. As such, we have two goals after a rideshare injury: one, to get you back on the road as quickly as possible and, two, to make sure you’re compensated for your damages (medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering).

The driver who caused the crash is responsible for paying others’ medical bills and damages. The at-fault driver’s auto insurance will cover the damages up to the policy limits. If the medical bills and damages exceed the policy limits, the at-fault driver may be personally responsible for the difference.

If you’re hurt in an accident that you caused, you will need to pay for medical treatment out-of-pocket or through your health insurance. Neither your personal nor the rideshare companies’ insurance will compensate you for injuries that you bring upon yourself.

Note: For an explanation of how Uber and Lyft’s insurance cover injuries you cause to others, see Can A Pax Sue You After A Crash?

On the other hand, if another driver caused the crash, you’ll need to open a claim with his or her auto insurance company. That company will investigate the accident and assess the fault of the drivers. More often than not, however, the insurer will challenge its responsibility to pay for your medical bills and damages. The company will claim you were partially to blame for the crash, you aren’t as injured as you claim, your medical bills are unreasonable or the like.

Because insurance claims are always uphill battles, you must be proactive in protecting your interests, meaning establishing your injury and the cause of it from the get-go. So, without further ado, the rideshare drivers’ checklist for an injury claim:

  • Describe your pains to the responding police officers
  • Allow ambulance personnel to examine you
  • If warranted, take the ambulance to the emergency room for examination and treatment
  • Seek medical treatment within one-to-two days of the accident
  • Give a full history of the accident and your injury to every medical provider at every appointment. State the date of the incident, exactly how it happened and the mechanism of your injury. (i.e., “On Friday, January 1, 2016, I was rear-ended and, as a result, my head struck the steering wheel.”)
  • At every appointment, describe how your injuries limit your daily activities
  • At every appointment, specifically describe how the pains feel (throbbing, aching, shooting, radiating, etc.)
  • Do not allow for significant gaps in treatment
  • Be compliant. Always follow doctor’s orders; don’t skip appointments; take pain medications; do prescribed exercises; see suggested specialists
  • Keep copies of bills and receipts for out-of-pocket medical expenses, like co-pays, prescriptions and medical equipment

By following the above tips, independent sources will create documents to support your injury claim. The evidence will be on your side, as police reports, ambulance records and doctor’s notes are difficult for the insurance company to counter.

Remember, as discussed in A Crash Course on Rideshare Accidents, you generally don’t want to give a statement about the accident, your injuries or your medical treatment to the other driver’s insurer. Let the first responders’ and medical documents do the talking for you.

Lastly, if injured, you should seek legal advice immediately. Injury claims are technical and tricky. The stakes are simply too high to not have an expert on your side.

Listen, guys. Accidents happen. It’s up to you to act like the pro.