Any car accident can be emotionally traumatic, and sometimes the best thing you can do is to acknowledge that something bad happened and let your friend know you are there for them. If your friend is unsure of what to do, you can encourage them to see a doctor and get advice from a lawyer.
Often, the more seriously someone is injured, the harder it is to know what to say. In general, avoid being judgmental and try not to give “helpful” advice aimed at making your friend feel better.
What should—or shouldn’t—I say when talking to my friend after the accident?
All car accidents cause a certain amount of emotional trauma. Even a minor bump in a parking lot can leave a driver feeling shaken for several days or weeks. A serious accident may cause psychological trauma even years later. It is important to acknowledge that your friend has legitimate feelings that she (or he) will need to deal with over time. Here are some suggestions for what to say, and not to say:
- Let your friend know you understand that something terrible has happened. A simple “That’s awful,” or “Man, that sucks” can mean a lot to someone after an accident.
- Give your friend space to talk about the accident, but don’t force her into it. Follow her lead and talk about whatever she seems to want to talk about.
- Let her know that you are there if there’s anything they need.
- After a serious accident, don’t try to give her false hope with stories of miraculous recoveries.
- Don’t give advice on what she should do to feel better.
- Try to be as normal as possible. Your friend is still your friend, even if she or he is in the hospital or otherwise dealing with injuries.
- Check in often, and spend time doing whatever your friend feels up to doing.
What if my friend acts like the accident was no big deal?
Everyone deals with accidents in their own way. If your friend insists they are fine, suggest that she go see a doctor anyway. Many car accident injuries take days or even weeks to develop, and there’s no downside to getting a doctor’s evaluation. If your friend develops back or neck pain after the accident, it could be a sign of injury, and you can once again encourage her to see a doctor. The longer she waits, the harder the injury may be to treat.
What if my friend thinks the accident was his or her fault?
It’s common for accident victims to blame themselves, even if the accident wasn’t really their fault. But if your friend tells the insurance company the accident was his or her fault, it will be very hard to recover money, even if the accident was really caused by someone else. Tell your friend to wait and let the insurance company look at all the facts and decide who was to blame. Tell her to stick to the facts when talking to the insurance company and NEVER take the blame or offer any opinion about what caused the accident.
Should I tell my friend to talk to a lawyer?
It’s always a good idea to talk to a lawyer, and you can suggest it if it seems appropriate. For example, if your friend mentions talking to a lawyer, you can encourage her to schedule a free consultation with car accident attorneys in Atlanta Georgia. You can also encourage her to talk to a lawyer if she seems worried about medical bills, who will pay the cost of the accident, or who is at fault. A personal injury lawyer can make sure your friend’s legal rights are protected, can help your friend get medical treatment, and can remove a lot of stress by handling negotiations with the insurance company. Just having a lawyer can often mean your friend will get thousands of dollars more than she otherwise would have.
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