Car accidents happen more than 10.6 million times a year. Therefore, the odds are that you will be in one and might suffer a personal injury. If you are prepared to “think like a lawyer” before that happens, your claim for your rights by law could proceed faster and more to your advantage.
“Thinking like a lawyer” essentially means two things. One, prevent any circumstances which could undermine your claim. And, two focus on the facts and collecting as much evidence as possible right there at the scene of the accident which supports those facts.
- Never enter your vehicle after taking substances, even prescription medication, which could be shown to impair ability to drive as well as judgment.
- Don’t multi-task. Either you drive or you text or talk on cell phone. You don’t do both at once. For example, pull over to side of the road to answer a call.
- Obey the letter and spirit of the law in everything regarding your motor vehicle. That ranges from having registration up to date to wearing a seat belt, if mandated, to observing speed limits. Err on side of caution.
- In your vehicle, keep a camera as well as paper and pen. That allows you to record the details of the accident including your injury, position of the vehicles, skids marks, traffic lights, license plates, and contact information for everyone, especially witnesses.
- Be alert about identifying any conditions which could have contributed to liability or the fault of the other party. They could be substances such as alcohol, so you might confer with the police about requesting a test for those. There could have been excessive speed, texting while driving, or running a red light. But to prove those factors existed requires proof. Do what you can then and there to gather what could become a form of documentation.
- Have a way to contact police. Yes, you must call 911. That report is necessary. The police will summon emergency medical assistance. The documentation of injury is also necessary. Even if you don’t “feel that bad,” let the medical experts determine the extent of any injury. IT IS IMPORTANT, IF YOU ARE INJURED, THAT YOU BE TRANSPORTED BY AMBULANCE TO THE HOSPITAL. You may have a head trauma which hasn’t registered on your nervous system yet. Not seeking immediate aid can compromise your claim, if you do file one.
- NEVER EVER, I MEAN, NEVER EVER, SPEAK WITH AN INSURANCE COMPANY BEFORE YOU SPEAK TO AN ATTORNEY. Be prepared to consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. That means you should have already asked around among your network for information about lawyers who focus on personal injury. You want legal counsel which is responsive to you and has a track record for favorable outcomes for clients.
- Timing is everything. That’s because each state has time limits or statute of limitations for filing a demand letter and taking other possible legal actions. Also, as time passes, evidence, witnesses, and visible signs of the seriousness of your injuries tend to disappear.
- The mindset to have about compensation for your injuries has to include pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, permanent disability and disfigurement, punitive damages, attorney fees, and court costs.
If you’re ever involved in an accident, please do not hesitate to contact us. We’re here to help.