I feel a little uncomfortable telling people what to do if they are involved in an accident. Why? It seems odd to tell them that, just as they are stepping out of a wrecked car, or picking themselves up from the ground where they slipped and fell, they should start thinking about preserving their rights, and evidence, so that they can later make a personal injury claim. On the other hand, I can’t tell you the number of times my clients here in central New York were seriously injured and just didn’t think to do what they needed to do to secure the evidence and their rights for a personal injury claim. Sometimes I can fix it, but sometimes it’s too late. Then they live in constant regret because they really end up needing the money the personal injury claim could have provided them for their lost wages, medical bills, and other losses.
So, like it or not, here’s my “what-to-do-when-you-are-injured” list. Some of these are no-brainers, but I figured I would list them all anyway:
TAKING CARE OF YOUR INJURY FIRST:
(1) Get medical attention for you injuries (obviously the most important).
PRESERVE EVIDENCE FOR YOUR PERSONAL INJURY CASE:
(2) Get contact information from those involved in the accident and from witnesses.
(3) Write down license plate numbers, if applicable. `
(4) Report the accident to the police.
(5) Make sure someone takes pictures of the scene, the cars, the evidence, etc.
(6) Make sure someone takes pictures of your injuries.
PRESERVE YOUR RIGHTS FOR INSURANCE COVERAGE (7) Report the accident to your own insurance agent or carrier. You should do this even if you don’t think the accident is covered under your policy. If you don’t do this promptly, you might destroy your right to any insurance coverage there is, and there may be insurance coverage in your own insurance policy that you are unaware of. Insurance carriers can disclaim coverage if you give them “late notice” of the accident.
DON’T SHOOT YOURSELF IN THE FOOT (8) Call an experienced personal injury lawyer BEFORE YOU TALK TO THE AT-FAULT GUY’S INSURANCE AGENT OR ADJUSTER. If you talk to the at-fault guy’s insurance agent or adjuster first, he or she is likely to try to get you to say things that hurt your case. You won’t even know he is doing it to you. They are good at it! Remember, you can talk to your own insurance carrier right away, but not the other guy’s until you first talk to your personal injury lawyer.
(9) Relax, listen to your doctor’s advice and get better. Your personal injury lawyer will take over from here.