People suffer injuries far too often in normal everyday activities such as driving or walking. Although injured victims should be compensated for their injuries and losses, many people jeopardize their own injury claims because of a simple slip of the tongue or mistake they make. This is why it is very important that people find out what steps they should take and what actions they should avoid following a motor vehicle accident, pedestrian accident, slip and fall accident, accident involving a defective product, or even an incident of medical malpractice.
When people make the wrong move after suffering injuries, it is possible they can negatively affect their claim and damage the amount of compensation they can recover. In fact, it is possible that a mistake can wipe out someone’s chances of making any type of financial recovery altogether. Because we don’t want you to make critical mistakes that can hurt your personal injury claim, we have a list of things you should do and shouldn’t do following an injury.
What to Do After an Injury:
- Report the incident and injury. If you are involved in a car accident or other type of motor vehicle accident, you need to stay at the scene of the accident and notify 911 of the accident and any injuries. If you are injured in a slip and fall accident, you need to report the accident to the store manager and fill out an incident report before leaving the store. If you are injured by a defective product, you should report the incident to the company and to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- Gather evidence. If you are injured in a motor vehicle crash, it is critical to take pictures of the accident scene, damage to all vehicles involved, and your visible injuries. Also, you will want to request the police report or the officer’s name and report number before leaving the accident scene. In addition to these steps, you need to gather the other driver’s information, including his or her name, address, phone number, insurance company, policy number, and driver’s license number. It is also a good idea to collect the names and phone numbers of all witnesses to the accident. Gathering witnesses’ information and photographing the accident scene and injuries are also critical steps that victims of and slip and fall accidents should take. For victims of defective products, it is critical to save the product or what is left of it and take any of the above applicable steps.
- Get medical treatment. Whether you are a victim of a collision, slip and fall accident, or defective product, it is essential to get your injuries looked at as soon as possible. If you are seriously injured, contact 911 and request medical assistance. If you feel fine or believe you have suffered a minor injury after an accident, it is still a good idea to see your primary care doctor as soon as possible or go to the emergency room for a thorough medical evaluation. Not only is this the right thing to do for your own health and well-being, but having your injuries documented will help strengthen your personal injury claim.
- Talk to an accident injury attorney. After any type of accident that involves an injury, it is in one’s best interest to speak with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can help you determine if you have a valid claim, fill you in on your rights, and help you protect your financial recovery.
Although it is important to take these steps, it is just as critical that you follow our tips below on things you should not do in order to protect your personal injury claim.
What Not to Do After an Injury:
- Don’t admit any fault. After an accident, many people say the words “I am sorry.” By saying these three simple words, you are actually admitting some fault. Even if you think you may have done something wrong, you don’t know all the details or what really was the cause of the accident. Be very careful what you say to the other driver, police officers, insurance company or any other party so that you don’t ruin your chances of a financial recovery. Remember that Virginia follows the law of contributory negligence, which means that even if you are one percent at fault for causing a motor vehicle accident, you will not be able to collect a financial recovery. Wait until the investigation is complete and talk with a lawyer before apologizing or admitting fault.
- Don’t wait too long to seek medical care. Many people don’t want to pay for a ride in an ambulance, wait at the ER, or even see their own doctor; however, if your injuries are serious, it is critical that the insurance company knows just how seriously injured you are. Don’t hope that your pain will go away and avoid seeing a doctor. If you do this, you may hurt your chances of getting the maximum possible financial recovery in your case because the insurance adjuster will question the severity of your injuries.
- Don’t provide the insurance adjuster with a recorded statement. Insurance adjusters can ruin your claim by manipulating you into thinking that you have to provide them with a recorded statement within hours or days of an accident. This is not the case. It is in your best interest to wait until you know the full extent of your injuries and you have spoken with an attorney who can help prepare you for making a statement.
- Don’t sign any paperwork. Insurance adjusters are trained to minimize the company’s liability, which is why they will make you think that you need to sign medical authorizations, written statements, or other paperwork that can actually be used against you. Even if you think the insurance adjuster sounds nice, do yourself a favor and speak with a lawyer before signing any paperwork. Most personal injury attorneys offer free initial consultations and would be happy to review the paperwork the insurance company is presenting you with.
At Shevlin Smith, we would be honored to speak with you and answer any questions you have in a complimentary consultation. If you aren’t sure you want to speak with an attorney yet, please take advantage of reading our free information so that you can view our frequently asked questions and answers and library full of helpful information.