Accidents happen, but how you respond to them can make the difference between success or failure when filing insurance claims or lawsuits.
Here are things that you can do in order to build your case from the moment the accident happens.
Prioritize Getting Help
Make a concerted effort to get help as soon as possible — call the police, if appropriate, go to the hospital to tend to injuries, and streamline your decision about which lawyer to hire.
Even if you think you’re feeling okay, it’s important to go to a doctor or hospital anyway to make sure you don’t have any hidden injuries.
The sooner you can get to a medical provider, the harder it is for an insurer or opposing counsel to prove that your were negligent.
The other helpful thing about going to get treated: The intake form you fill out can serve as a starting point for documenting your case. Take a photo of your completed forms before submitting them to the health-care provider.
Commit to any and all follow-up care and visits the doctor indicates. Lagging on this in any way may interfere with your ability to prove your case; an insurer or opposing counsel will go to any lengths to try to prove you’re insincere about your injuries, and from there use that to begin to unravel your case.
And checking to see whether you’re going to all of your appointments is the tip of the iceberg; depending on the size of your claim, opposing counsel or your insurer can hire a private investigator to get photos of you not following your doctor’s advice.
You’re the Eyewitness
Even though the police and hospital will likely put their own reports together, they won’t be able to include as much detail as you can because you are the eywitness.
The more information you can gather on the scene of your accident, the easier it’s going to be for you to put together a strong claim; this will also make for a more efficient work experience with any lawyer you retain.
While you’re waiting for an ambulance or the police to arrive, try to take photos of the scene, and gather names, addresses and phone numbers of witnesses.
Tell It to Your Mobile
Dictate your observations into your mobile phone — using Siri if you have an iPhone or other voice transcription app — in as much detail as possible while things are still fresh in your mind.
Don’t postpone documenting the accident or you’ll find yourself coming up short. Even if you think a detail isn’t significant, write it down anyways. Later on, your attorney can help you determine what’s most important later on.
Ask for copies of everything written about your accident by other parties. This includes everything health-care providers put in your file, anything your employer might put in writing about your ability to show up following the accident, and all of the reports on the accident writte by police.
Not only do these materials contain critical data for proving your case, but they may also provide you clues leading to additional evidence.
Prepare for Accidents
The often unpleasant nature of accidents typically keeps people from thinking about them before they happen, but that shouldn’t deter you from preparing yourself for the possibility.
Readers, how did you handle the last accident you experienced — or what about the people involved in an accident you witnessed?