No one starts their day expecting to be in an accident. Unfortunately, accidents are a part of life, especially in major metropolises and commuter areas; knowing what to do after an accident in New York City or even the suburbs is crucial. When you’re at the wrong place at the wrong time, taking certain immediate actions can go a long way to protecting your rights.
Simple Steps after an Accident
Here are five suggestions from Levine & Slavit, PLLC that can be easily overlooked in the stress after an accident:
- Get NAMES of Witnesses – We cannot overstate how many times we ask a new client whether there were any witnesses to their accident and they say yes, but when we ask for the witnesses’ names the client says they didn’t get any names. There almost might as well not be a witness. Statements of unidentified “witnesses” are considered hearsay and of no use in court. It is absolutely crucial to get the names of all witnesses and as much identifying information (address, phone number, e-mail) as possible.
- Take Photographs – Nowadays many people carry cell phones or PDA’s with cameras and even the capability of taking videos. Although the picture quality is not the best, it can be extremely useful to capture the condition that caused an accident, such as a hole or snow and ice on a sidewalk, before the condition changes. Photographs can also help show the condition and position of motor vehicles in the immediate aftermath of an accident. Your motor vehicle should not be discarded until after you have taken photographs depicting its damage.
- Say As Little as Possible and Do NOT Sign Anything – This is not a matter of telling the truth or not. It is a matter of something being said in good-faith that inadvertently creates an opening for being “twisted” by an insurance company claims representative or lawyer to make it appear as though you admitted something harmful to your claim. It may be impossible to disown something you have signed. Oftentimes a seemingly innocuous phrase in a written statement can be used to completely defeat a claim. Do not be fooled by a promise to settle your claim, or a threat not to unless you give a statement. If you have a good claim, the negligent party or its insurance company will want to settle with you, even without your statement.
- Get All Necessary Medical Treatment – No one is impressed by an exaggerator or malingerer. But insurance companies evaluate claims based upon hospital and medical records, not assertions by accident victims that they are badly hurt. So do not suffer in silence. And when a doctor or nurse asks you how you feel, do not leave anything out. Sometimes injuries that start out small end up being the most significant, and things feel worse in the days and weeks after an accident than they did on the day of the accident. If you forget to mention something that hurts early on, it may become difficult to connect that injury to the accident.
- Beware of Time Limitations, Consult an Attorney – There are unforgiving limitations of time that apply to cases, most frequently involving motor vehicle accidents or claims against municipalities (ie. the state, cities, counties, villages). Not having consulted with an attorney is usually not a good excuse for being late. If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact an attorney as soon as possible so you don’t find yourself unable to assert your rights.
Contact Us after an Accident
Insurance industry propaganda notwithstanding, most people do not view being injured in an accident as a chance to get some money. People want to be healthy and enjoy life. Unfortunately, people do get hurt and suffer; at Levine & Slavit, PLLC we try to help those people obtain the compensation they deserve. Be sure to contact us after an accident in New York City; chances are we can help.