WHAT TO DO IN CASE OF AN ACCIDENT
If you have the misfortune to find yourself the victim of an accident
involving injuries or property damage, and the collision is the fault
of the other driver, there are simple guidelines you should follow.
The following steps will help you avoid problems with claims adjusters
and assist you in obtaining full and fair compensation for your injuries
ASSIST THE INJURED
Your first duty, after stopping your vehicle, is to check for injured
persons. If someone is injured call 911 and report the accident. Make
the injured person comfortable, but do not move him or her unless you
know what you are doing. Good intentions on your part may result on
further injury to the victim
INSIST ON A POLICE REPORT
The first piece of information that the insurance adjuster will want
is the police report. In many cases, there are no witnesses, and you
and the offending driver may have conflicting versions of the accident.
If you do not have a police report, you may be seriously damaging your
chances for obtaining full and fair compensation.
DO NOT MOVE YOUR VEHICLE
Unless your vehicle poses an immediate hazard to other traffic, it
is very important that your car stay in the same position that it came
to rest after the accident. Ask the other driver to leave his or her
vehicle in the same spot also. The single most important piece of evidence
that the police officer has for determining fault is the position of
the respective vehicles after the accident.
Additionally, if your case goes to trial, your case may require an
accident reconstruction expert, who will need to know the positions
of the respective vehicles.
IF YOU ARE INJURED, TELL THE POLICE
The first record of your injury will be contained in the investigating
officer's report. If you fail to mention to the officer that you are
injured it may create a seed of suspicion in the mind of the insurance
adjuster who will ultimately be evaluating you claim. Ordinarily, the
officer will ask you if you are injured. However, if he or she fails
to ask if you are injured, and assume that you are all right, tell the
officer that you are in fact injured.
Often by the time the police officer arrives at the scene, witnesses
to your collision will be gone. Therefore it is very important for you
to immediately ask if there are any witnesses, and if so, write down
there names, telephone numbers and addresses.
OBTAIN MEDICAL TREATMENT
If you have been injured, both your health and your claim will suffer
if you do not immediately seek medical attention. Go to the nearest
hospital emergency room or your physician. An injury, if untreated,
may become substantially worse.
As far as your claim is concerned, one of the first questions an adjuster
will ask is when you saw a Doctor after you accident. If you fail to
promptly seek medical attention, the adjuster may suspect that you are
not genuinely injured, and asses your claim accordingly.
DO NOT SETTLE YOUR OWN CLAIM
If you have sustained an injury requiring follow-up medical attention,
you should consult an attorney as soon as possible. Experience shows
that an attorney will generally obtain substantially more compensation
for you than you would be offered in settlement by the insurance adjuster,
even after payment of the attorney fees and medical expenses. If you
accept a settlement for your bodily injury without seeking legal representation,
you may receive a settlement that is grossly inadequate, and which fails
to fairly compensate you for your injuries and damages.
There is no charge for an initial consultation. I will explain your
legal rights, and what you can do to protect them to obtain full and
fair compensation for your injuries and damages.
DO NOT GIVE STATEMENTS TO INSURANCE ADJUSTERS
A claim adjuster may often be assigned to your claim before you have
been able to retain an attorney This may occur within one or two days
of the accident. The adjuster will request permission to take a recorded
or handwritten statement. If you are contemplating hiring an attorney,
you should never give a statement to any insurance adjuster, including
one from your own insurance company. You may be seriously prejudicing
your case without knowing it. Instead, tell the adjuster that you have
decided to hire an attorney, and instruct him or her to refer all questions
to your attorney. Additionally, you should not sign anything, including
forms from your insurance company, without first consulting an attorney.
DISCLOSE ALL PRIOR ACCIDENTS
Once you have hired an attorney to represent you, you should be completely
truthful and cooperative with your lawyer. Your attorney cannot adequately
represent you unless you have provided all information regarding past
At your first visit to the emergency room or with your doctor, it is
very important that you tell
the doctor about any prior injuries or similar medical conditions you
have had in the past. Your failure to accurately relate your previous
medical history could seriously damage your case. The insurance company
or the defense attorney has the right to obtain a complete copy of all
your previous medical reports relating to similar prior medical conditions
OTHER THINGS TO DO
- Send copies of your medical bills and prescription receipts to your
- Keep a diary describing the accident, your pain and suffering, and
how your injuries affect your work, daily routine, sports activities,
and impact generally.
KEEP THIS IN YOUR GLOVE COMPARTMENT
After an accident you may be frightened and shocked, and may be unable
to remember all this information.
You should, therefore, print this page and keep it in the glove compartment
of your car, so that in the unfortunate event of an accident, the legal
rights of you and your family will be protected.
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