In no particular order, taking these steps will greatly increase the validity of your accident claim, and the liklihood that it will be brought to a successful resolution:
1. AVOID THE "REFERRAL MILLS."
Some personal injury firms have ongoing referral "relationships" with certain medical providers. These groups regularly refer patients and clients to each other. Insurance companies are becoming increasingly aware of these relationships, and this will often raise a red flag. Why? Because it raises the possibility that the treatment is being "padded" for purposes of the claim. Insurance companies will scrutinize these claims much more closely.
As an alternative, if you've been injured in an auto collision, a good place to start your initial treatment is your family doctor.
2. DON'T WAIT TOO LONG TO SEEK MEDICAL TREATMENT.
If you are still feeling the effects of your collision, get checked out by hospital or a provider of your choosing, and be sure to point out all the problems you're having. It's common that some injuries will not manifest themselves until a few days after the collision; in fact, the standard "discharge instructions" from any hospital emergency room will tell you exactly that. Insurance companies love to argue that there is no cause and effect between your crash and your injuries if there is a gap or delay in your treatment. The longer you wait, the more you play into that argument. Simply listen to what your body is telling you and make sure you follow up with a medical provider, but only if you feel it is necessary to do so.
3. KEEP ALL OF YOUR APPOINTMENTS
If you're scheduled for 18 physical therapy appointments and you miss 7 of them, this will be reflected in your medical records, and it will allow the insurance company to argue that you "aren't really hurt" if you missed that many appointments. If you miss an appointment and still feel the need for treatment, make sure you re-schedule it.
4. TRY TO MINIMIZE--NOT MAXIMIZE--YOUR LOSSES
If you've been ordered off work due to your injuries, try your best to get back to work as soon as you possibly can. It will do you no good to attempt to delay going back to work just to "build" your lost wage claim. When you can return to work should be a decision solely between your provider and you. If you try to go back to work as soon as you can and it's obvious that you're still having problems, you need to relay this to your provider as soon as possible so he or she can re-evaluate the situation.
Remember, insurance companies essentially view all injury claims the same way: that everyone is an exaggerator or malingerer until proven otherwise. Doing everything you can to get back to your normal lifestyle will "break" that stereotype and separate your claim from those who may be trying to exaggerate their losses. This leads to the final main point, which is...
5. BE HONEST
The worst thing you can do is exaggerate your injuries. Tell your providers all the problems you're having, but also let them know if there is any improvement. Don't tell them that you can't do an activity if it's something you can do but with difficulty. There is a difference between the two so make sure you're clear with your provider about the extent of what you can and can't do after an accident.
The best thing you can do is do your best to try to get your life back to normal as soon as possible. This will serve you well when it comes time for an adjuster--or a jury--to examine your injury claim. If you try your best and fail due to your injuries, it's much better than doing nothing or not trying. You will be seen as exercising "personal responsibility" for your actions. And, above all else, it's the right thing to do.