STOP!! You’ve just been in an Accident through no fault of your own, you were injured and you are wondering what you need to do? • What information do I need? • Should I take pictures of the area where it happened or my injuries? • Should I report this to my insurance? • Should I talk to the insurance representative for the person who injured me? • Should I go to the doctor right away if I’m hurt? • Which doctor should I see and what kinds of questions should I ask about treatment of my injuries? • Should I call a lawyer and, if so, how soon after the incident should I do so? TOP FIVE THINGS TO DO INCLUDE:
Get Information and Evidence At the Scene Where the Injury Occurred It is important to obtain enough information at the scene of any accident whether it be a car accident, fall, or any other injury causing event. With the common use of smartphones, this is now easier than ever. Take photos of the following: 1. The driver’s license and proof of insurance for the driver of any vehicle involved in an auto accident. Make sure to focus the camera so that all information is legible. 2. The physical damage to property including automobile property damage to all vehicles involved. 3. The overall view of the accident scene and close up shots of any dangerous condition that may have caused the incident (e.g. slick substances on the floor, protruding objects, holes in the ground, potholes, etc.) or of the positions of the vehicles when they came to rest in an auto accident claim. Write down: The names, addresses and phone numbers of any driver, passenger or witnesses to the accident and the badge number and name of any investigating officer or any Emergency Medical responders at the scene. Request: A copy of a police report from the investigating officer. Usually they will give you a small post card size information card with the “NCIC” or other identification number and instructions on how to request a full report. If not, at least get a business card from the officer(s). In the case of a fall in a retail store, request a copy of any incident report filled out by any employee or manager of the store and ask for a business card or at least the name and employee number for anyone who saw the incident or spoke to the victim afterwards.
Seek PROMPT Medical Attention and Document Your Examination(s) and Treatment(s) You must seek out prompt and thorough medical diagnosis and treatment if you have sustained ANY injury as a result of the incident. This includes the following: • Accepting offers of emergency transport from the scene if necessary • Requesting full and complete diagnosis including x-rays, MRIs, CT Scans or other diagnostic tests that may show the severity of the injuries • Seeking out follow up medical care and treatment AFTER any initial emergency trauma care. This can include a visit to your regular medical doctor and seeking a referral to a specialist such as an Orthopedist, Neurologist or Physical Therapist.
Promptly Report the Incident to Your Own Insurance Carrier Under most policies of insurance including auto insurance, homeowners or renters policies, or business or commercial insurance, there is a duty to promptly report all actual or potential claims. Failure to do so can possibly result in a denial of coverage. When you report the incident, though, just STICK TO THE FACTS: • When did the accident occur? • Where did it happen? • Who was involved? • How did it happen? Be cautious here in describing the incident. Less is more. • “WAS ANYONE INJURED?” Always err on the side of caution when answering this question. Many times injuries do not manifest until days or even weeks following an incident. If you have an attorney, let the lawyer do the reporting of the claim to your insurance company.
Do NOT Provide Information To ANY Insurance Representative from Any Other Party Involved in the Incident It is important to know that, while you have a contractual duty to report the claim to your own insurance and to cooperate with them in investigating the claim, you have NO such duty with regard to the insurance company for the other side! Insurance carriers are in the business of minimizing payments of claims. One of the major tactics they use is to train their claims adjusters to obtain information from people filing claims against their insureds that can later be used to minimize or deny the claim. DON’T fall into this trap!! For Example, Do NOT: • Consent to a recorded statement either in person or over the phone with the at fault party’s insurance claim’s representative • Sign ANYTHING that is given to you by the insurance company for the other side including: Settlement agreements, releases, waivers, consents to obtain medical information or other protected information such as your social security number or tax information.
Promptly Consult With And Retain A Personal Injury Lawyer According to statistics from the Insurance Research Council (a group who conducts studies for the insurance industry), persons represented by attorneys receive approximately 40 percent higher settlements than those who choose to “represent themselves”. In addition, their stats indicate that 85 percent of ALL dollars paid in auto accident claims go to persons represented by lawyers. Why is this? SIMPLE: Insurance companies are set up to take in premiums and make money through investments of the funds that are “floating” through their accounts. What cuts into these profits? Payments on claims at full value! If they convince you to say and do things before seeking proper legal advice that either completely invalidates your claim or drastically reduces the value ….. THEY MAKE MORE MONEY. The adjuster gets a bonus, the CEO is happy and ALL AT YOUR EXPENSE!
How do I choose a quality personal injury lawyer that cares and will maximize the value of my claim? Reputation, experience, results and compassion. This is what has set Glotzer & Sweat, LLP apart for the past 18 years of representing personal injury victims and their families throughout California including Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, and the Inland Empire. For More Information Call Toll Free Statewide @ 1-866-229-0101 or visit our website: http://www.victimslawyer.com
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