After any accident, you can be startled, flustered, or in shock. Don’t let your emotions make you do or say things that may affect your personal injury claim. Instead, use these basic steps as a guide after any accident.
Call for help – Determine your need for medical attention or police involvement. It is generally advisable to accept professional medical treatment and evaluation after an accident. There is no need to “tough it out” if you have injuries caused by another. If in a vehicle accident, call the police or 911. The police will be able to control the accident site and make an official police report. It is generally advisable to explain to the police that you are in shock or have suffered an injury before making any statement to the police. Make sure you later receive a copy and don’t leave the scene unless told otherwise by the police.
Get treated for injuries – You never know the difference between severe injuries and minor injuries after an accident. Regularly injuries can get worse in time, especially if you hit your head or suffered back trauma. When in doubt, seek professional medical attention even if it seems like a minor crash. It’s important for your health and your claim.
If you have auto insurance or health insurance, refuse to sign any hospital documents that allow the hospital to lien your personal injury claim. The law requires hospitals to charge your insurance first, and if under contract with your health insurance to accept that insurance payment as payment in full. Calmly and neatly note in the margin of any intake documents with that language that you object and deny that contract clause.
Obtain any contact information – Write down the contact information for whomever else was involved in the accident. This could include: drivers, third parties, passengers, and witnesses.
Take pictures – Pictures are extremely helpful in pursuing a personal injury claim. Your pictures are evidence of what happened and help determine the extent of the damages. Pictures of the scene, your injuries, witnesses or other persons involved are all helpful. Every phone has a camera now, use it, or have a bystander help.
Taking notes of how the accident happened and what was said or done after the accident is valuable. Nearly as important is starting a calendar or diary of how you feel each day, your doctor visits, who you spoke to about the accident, telephone calls, or letter you may have received. Be sure to bring this calendar or diary with you to speak with us.
Don’t talk about the accident – Once you’ve gathered all the information you need, don’t say anything about the accident. Don’t blame anyone else, don’t voice your opinion with vulgar language, and don’t say sorry. Remember that anyone can be a witness and your behavior or admissions may be at issue as well as the person that caused the accident.
Report the claim – The one exception to Rule No. 7 above is to notify your insurance carrier of the accident. Explain the date, time, persons involved, and whether there were personal and property injuries. Then explain that you are seeking legal counsel and refrain from answering any other questions until you have talked to an attorney.