Baking Rules!
September 7, 2017

Taking the Dents out of Accident Cases

Try to remain calm. Helpful steps if you have been injured in an accident.

If you get into a car accident, try to remain calm. You have just experienced a traumatic accident.  Call 911. EMS and local police will be dispatched. You want to be as clear as possible to the police officer and medical team about what happened.  A police officer will interview the involved drivers and any witnesses. The investigating officer will note car damage and any debris or skid marks left behind. The investigation will document the point of impact.  The officer’s investigation may also confirm whether there were properly functioning traffic lights or video cameras present that may have recorded the accident.

If EMS arrives before the police, you will be transported to the closest medical facility. The police will see that your car is towed.  You may not have a chance to speak with the officer at the scene. The police officer should visit you at the hospital to get your statement. The officer should provide you with the police report number and the location where your car was towed. The police officer will draft a formal report at a later date. Incident reports take some time to process. The value of a police report is that it confirms the accident happened, identifies parties involved, provides car insurance information and can identify important factors from the scene that may assist in the case.  Unless the police officer witnessed the accident, the report will not be used to provide an opinion on who caused the accident in court but may bear weight when dealing with the insurance companies.

If you cannot document the accident due to your injuries, try to contact a trusted friend or family member to do so. It is important to take pictures of your vehicle and any cars involved. If you can, take a photograph of where the cars actually came to rest just immediately after the impact. When taking pictures of the accident site or car damage, aim to take shots from a bigger perspective first. Then take some shots that focus in more narrowly. By starting with the entire car first including license plate and then narrowing in on the specific damage, you are able to put the car into the specific accident context. The same is true of the scene, take pictures of the larger scene first and then narrow in on the skid marks or debris left behind.

Get all witnesses’ full names, addresses and phone numbers. Witnesses may provide valuable information. Experience has shown that witnesses who are willing to take time out of their day to help you will remain willing to speak if called upon at a later date.

Many times you will be contacted by an insurance company when you are not feeling well. The insurance carrier may try to settle your personal injury claim right away. It is best to consult with a personal injury attorney and not to rush into a settlement. Once the check is cashed or release signed, you may be prevented from bringing future personal injury claims. In addition, the insurance carrier may attempt to take your recorded statement. The carrier is required to notify you and get your permission to record. Do not give permission to record your statement prior to obtaining counsel.

If you have suffered injuries from a slip and fall or trip and fall, it is critical that you document the area, debris or dangerous condition. If you cannot do so, have a trusted friend or relative take pictures instead. Focus on the substance on the ground such as a scuff mark, an object, or something that prevented safe movement. Photographing the scene in a larger context first and then narrowing in is immensely important. For example, if you fell due to a damaged step, you will want to take a photograph of the entire staircase first. Then shoot photos of the poorly maintained step that caused the fall. If you slipped on a wet substance, you will want to document whether there were warning signs present.  If you fell on ice, it is important to document whether the icy condition had or had not been treated.

You should always report the fall. For example, if you fell in the entryway of a store, notify the owner or property manager. Be sure to file an incident report. The report documents where the accident occurred and records date and time. If anyone saw you fall, get their name and contact information. Witnesses can verify what happened. Sometimes there is video footage that may have recorded the incident. The video may be controlled by the property owner or management company.  An attorney can assist you with trying to preserve it. If a store employee says something to you about how the incident occurred, try to write this information down. For example, if a worker admits to you that the owner did not perform certain safety measures, document the information immediately along with the employee name.

If you suspect you may have suffered food poisoning, it is critical that you contact the restaurant or grocery store immediately. You will want to make sure an incident report is filed. You will also want to notify your local health department. The health department may investigate whether there were other reported incidents. You will want to seek medical treatment immediately. A stool sample or blood work will confirm the specific type of poisoning. If you still have the suspected food item, store or freeze it.  You may be able to test or use it as evidence. It is a good idea to record what you have eaten within the 48 to 72 hours prior so you can exclude any other potential causes.

If you have been bitten by a dog, call the police immediately. The police will investigate who owns the dog and where the dog’s owner lives. You will also want to report to animal control. Again, the report documents that the incident took place. Animal control may investigate whether the dog has any other reported bites. Photograph the wound immediately, and then continue to photograph the wound as it heals. An attorney can help you to find out what insurance may be available.

In a situation where a pharmacist gives you the wrong medication, notify the pharmacy as soon as you realize the error. Do not give the medication or prescription bottle back. Try to retain the wrong medication, the pill bottle including label, and the doctor’s written prescription.  An attorney can assist you in properly documenting what happened as a result of taking the wrong medication.

If you are a victim, do not post anything related to the accident on social media. Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media is open for the public to view.  Once it is out there, it cannot be withdrawn.

If you are a witness, your recount, photos, or videos can truly help. Taking car accident photos can assist the victim in his or her case. Getting a shot of a license plate when the car flees the scene can help identify the offender.  It may seem intimidating or tiresome to have to appear in court or give a statement, but it can change someone’s entire life.  You would hope that someone would do the same for you. Doing the right thing in these situations can make all the difference.

Please call us at 202.465.8685 to tell us how you have been injured and get help.

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