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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 and damages.


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.


OBTAIN EYEWITNESSES

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 chose to

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 injuries.

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 and injuries.


OTHER THINGS TO DO

  • Send copies of your medical bills and prescription receipts to your attorney.
  • 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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