The Do's and Don'ts for the Accident Victim
We are often asked what is the first thing that I should do when I am involved in an accident?
To begin we always recommend calling 911 if there is any possibility that an injury has occurred so that you or anyone else that may have been injured can get an immediate medical treatment. After that we highly recommend that you contact an attorney who is experienced with personal injury claims and trial work. It is also important to remember that there are generally two separate claims to address in an auto accident: 1. a claim for property damage (the vehicles involved in the accident), and 2. a claim for injuries. Each claim must be addressed separately. Below is a list that is similar to the one that we provide for our clients who have been injured in an accident: 1. Do report changes of address or telephone numbers. If you move, or plan to be out of town, please let your attorney know whether you can be reached, and provide his or her office with your new address and telephone number. 2. Do report changes in your physical condition. Notify your attorney periodically of any changes in your physical condition. Also, keep your attorney informed regarding the names, addresses and telephone number of each doctor you visit, as well as the nature of the medical treatments and medications that you are prescribed or taken. Do not be afraid to see your doctor whenever necessary. 3. Do report all evidence and subsequent occurrences. If any evidence comes into your possession, bring it to your attorney's office for safekeeping. If you are reminded of any facts that you have not reported to your attorney, make a note of them and report to your attorney as soon as possible. If you discover any witnesses, let your attorney know as soon as possible. Do not repair any damaged items until you have checked with your attorney, as it may be necessary to take photographs or use the damaged articles as evidence in court. Keep all physical objects that might serve as evidence to support your claim of injuries and damages, such as clothing and shoes worn at the time of the accident, splints, casts, braces, etc. All accidents, claims, and disabilities that you had prior to this accident must be disclosed to your attorney, as the defendant's insurance company has methods of discovering this kind of information. The defendant is also entitled to obtain copies of your past medical records, and you do not want your case to be jeopardized because your attorney was not alerted to all the facts of your case. 4. Do keep all evidence of expenses. You should maintain a separate itemized daily list of all your expenses and losses, including the following: doctors, nurses, hospitals, medicines, medical braces, splints, and other paraphernalia; repairs; travel expenses; cost of hiring others to help in home or business (including babysitters); etc. You should pay these expenses, if possible, by check, and you should get a written receipt and send or bring all canceled checks and receipts to your attorney's office. A copy of any bills received should also be sent to your attorney's office. You should also keep a record of the following: days off work; loss of pay or profits; sick leave used up; travel time to and from doctors, hospitals, etc. 5. Do not discuss your case - do not fill out forms - do not sign anything. Until you have first received approval from your attorney. Do not discuss your case with any other person, including friends, family, neighbors, doctors, policy, or your own insurance company; do not fill out any forms; and do not sign any papers. The defendant's insurance company may try to take movies or photographs of your daily activities in the hope of proving that you are exaggerating your claim regarding your injuries and disabilities. They may also try to tape record your conversations with others. If anyone other than a representative of your lawyer's office contacts or questions you regarding your claim, tell that person to contact your lawyer's office. If anyone claims to represent your attorney's office, verify his or her representation by contacting your attorney's office before answering any questions. 6. Do not overlook other sources for payment of expenses. You may be able to have your medical or other bills paid from other sources as a result of the coverage afforded you under your own insurance policies, medical plans, or group benefits at your place of work. You should initiate whatever action is necessary to obtain such payments.