Most frequently Asked questions and answers
Do I need an attorney for my personal injury claim?
The answer is almost always yes. Insurance companies are trained professionals who prey on injured people who don’t have representation. Insurance companies regularly tell injury claimants that they do not need a lawyer and everything will be taken care of. But when it’s time for you to resolve your case, the insurance company does not want to pay what you are entitled to. Personal injury claims are detailed and complex and you are bound to lose without quality representation. You need an injury lawyer who will fight to obtain every dollar you deserve. Don’t settle for less!
What should I do after I have been involved in a car collision?
Never drive away from the scene of an accident, even a minor one.
You can prevent further accidents by setting up flares, or keeping your flashers on. If it is dark and your lights don’t work, you should have a flashlight to keep you safe while you wait in your disabled car or by the side of the road.
Even if there are no serious injuries, it is a good idea to call the police. You may need a police report to file a claim with your insurance company, even if it is just to make a claim for damage to your vehicle. The vehicles involved in the accident should remain where they are, unless they interfere with traffic. If you must move your vehicle, take pictures of the vehicles immediately after the collision.
When the police arrive, make sure you tell the investigating officer(s) exactly what happened, to the best of your ability. If you do not know certain facts, tell that to the officer. Do not speculate, guess or misstate any of the facts. If you are asked if you are injured and you are not sure, say you are not sure, rather than no. Often, the pain and injuries from motor vehicle accidents become apparent hours after the actual collision. You should also make sure statements made by other persons involved in the accident are accurate as well.
If you happen to have a camera in your vehicle, or a cell phone equipped
with a camera, you should take pictures of the vehicles if there is visible damage. If you have
visible injuries, you should photograph them as well. However, you should in no way interfere
with the on-going police investigation. If you cannot take pictures at the scene of the accident,
take them as soon as possible after the accident.
Typically, the investigating police officer obtains this information. However, if the police do not respond to the accident, you should obtain the name, address and telephone number of all persons involved in the accident, drivers and passengers alike. If you can, it is a good idea to take a photograph of the other driver’s license. You should also obtain information about insurance by asking to see the insurance card for all vehicles involved in the accident. If there are witnesses, you should get information from them as well so that you or your attorney can contact them in the future. If police respond to the accident, the investigating officer usually will provide all drivers with a police report number. You can use that number later to obtain the police report. If the accident occurs on a state highway, you must request the report from the state police.
Notify your insurance company as soon as possible. Many policies require immediate reporting and full cooperation. Find out if you have medical benefits as part of your insurance coverage. You pay extra for that type of coverage – known as “medpay” – so you should use it. In fact, if you have medpay coverage, you are required to submit your accident-related medical bills to your insurance company. Medpay coverage is primary for accident-related medical bills. Once medpay benefits are exhausted, private health insurance becomes your primary insurer. Medpay benefits are available to all the occupants of the vehicle. Your insurance rates should not increase as a result of submitting claims for medpay coverage.
Often, injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents are not immediately apparent. Most of our clients report feeling the most pain a day or two following an automobile accident. Unless you are absolutely certain you were not injured, you should seek medical attention at your local emergency room or by seeing your family physician. Even in accidents involving minor impact, you can sustain a serious and permanent injury to your spinal cord. If you lost consciousness or were dazed for even a short period of time following the collision, you may have suffered a concussion or closed head injury. This can cause cognitive and behavioral changes if left untreated.
Keep all your accident-related documents and information together. This information should include a claim number, the claim’s adjuster who is handling the claim, names and phone numbers of all contacts, receipts for a rental car and other expenses incurred as a result of the accident.
Perhaps the most important thing you should do after an accident is to consult your attorney. Your attorney can protect your rights and make sure valuable evidence is not destroyed. Often, insurance companies want to take statements immediately after an accident. It is important that you have received legal advice before providing such a statement. Your attorney can advise you on issues ranging from how to make sure you are fully compensated for your vehicle to how to make sure you are getting the best medical treatment available. Personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means there is no legal fee unless the attorney recovers compensation for your injuries.
What should I do if I am injured at a business or other property?
If no one at the business witnessed your accident or knew about it soon after it occurred, find an employee as soon as you can and notify them about what happened. Many businesses have policies that require an official incident report, and the employee will need to ask you questions and fill out the report. Provide as much information as you can, and do not admit fault or go into too much detail about your injuries. Note what the employee tells you and write down his or her name. If the business does not have any formal policy for incident reports, obtain some writer record of the incident.
Immediately after a slip and fall accident, and after you have called for the help you need, make sure to document the scene. Take out your smartphone (or ask someone nearby to use theirs) and take pictures of the unsafe conditions that lead to your fall. Look around and assess the environment for signs of negligence. Was there clutter on a staircase? An unexpected step that wasn’t labeled? A wet spot on the floor with no warning sign? Collect as much evidence as you can at the scene of the accident. Also, locate any witnesses and obtain a name and contact information for each possible witness. Additionally, look around for surveillance cameras that may have filmed the accident. After receiving medical care, see if you or your attorney can access that footage.
If you decide to pursue a lawsuit after a preventable injury on business property, more evidence will be collected. But because you cannot recreate the conditions that lead to your injury, it is important to document it as thoroughly as you can right after it occurred. Of course, your first priority is medical care, but once that is attended to, or if you can wait, your next priority is to document the scene.
An important piece of evidence is the account given by people who may have witnessed the accident. They can provide an outsider’s perspective of what happened. Witnesses can help back up your story and their accounts may be used to show that you aren’t liable for the accident that caused your injury.
Sometimes, personal injury lawsuits can turn into a game of “he said, she said,” with you telling one version of events, and the property owner telling another. A witness should be an unbiased third party who can back up your story and help you prove that you aren’t lying about what happened. If you are involved in an accident on business property, talk to the people around you who may have seen what happened. Get their contact information and ask them if they happen to have any pictures or video footage of what happened. Again, your priority should be getting medical attention, but if you can, collect information from witnesses. Your attorney may contact them to get a statement if you decide to pursue a lawsuit.
After an accident has occurred, your first priority is to seek the proper medical attention. If you have fallen and are seriously injured, in a lot of pain, and cannot get up, don’t try to move. Instead, stay where you are and call for help. If no one is around, use your cell phone to call a trusted person to come help you or call the front desk of the business for assistance. In the event of a medical emergency, call 911. If you suspect you have injured your neck or back, don’t move or let anyone other than paramedics move you.
Even if you can get up and walk away, don’t make the mistake of not seeking medical attention for minor injuries, especially if you get a headache or feel any lingering pain afterward. Some injuries don’t manifest themselves until later, and a small injury may get worse over time. All victims of a slip and fall accident on a business premises should seek medical attention, even if you can stand up and walk. It will help to get checked out by a doctor anyway just in case an injury is worse than you think and needs treatment to heal.
Sometimes medical attention after an injury at a business property requires more than a one- time visit to the doctor. You might need stitches removed, imaging after the swelling has gone down, a cast placed and removed, or even surgery. Sometimes you might even need ongoing physical therapy or the temporary or long-term use of medical equipment such as a wheelchair. Your first priority after an injury on business property is getting both immediate medical service and longer-term care, but make sure to keep the next steps in mind.
The next step is to find a lawyer to represent you. Try to find one who focuses on personal injury lawsuits. The business property owner is not automatically held liable for what happened to you, but a lawyer can help you decide if you have a case against them and show you how to file a lawsuit that will hold them accountable. Investigations and legal technicalities are hard to navigate without an experienced personal injury lawyer. A lawyer can help you navigate the system and get the compensation you deserve.