Steps to Take if you are Injured in a Car Accident in New York
Frank J. Dito, Jr.
When you are involved in a car accident it is detrimental to your injury case that you consult with a New York injury lawyer prior to giving a sworn statement to the insurance company or insurance adjuster.
Here is the order you should follow if your ever involved in a car accident to avoid ruining your car accident case:
- Seek medical attention immediately - A long delay in getting medical attention or a lack of getting medical attention will make your injuries seem minor or non-existent. You will want to make sure you either go to the hospital or if you don't go to the hospital make sure you make an appointment to be seen by your doctor either the day of the accident or the following day. Not seeking medical attention can cause your injuries to become infected and harder to treat and can also make your injury case seem incomplete or false.
- Contact your insurance company - Contact your insurance company and start the process of filing a claim. You will want to make them aware of the fact that you were in an accident but should not give them a sworn statement until you discuss your case with an injury lawyer. Prematurely giving a sworn statement without first consulting with a lawyer can damage your case. Sometimes the questions that may be asked while your are giving your sworn statement can be confusing and you may not answer them right. Your injury lawyer will be able to go over your case with you and will also be able to advise you as far as how to make sure you answer the questions the insurance company is asking correctly.
- Take a look around - When you are feeling up to it you will want to take a look inside of your car. Take note of any goods inside of your car that were damaged because of the accident and then find out if they are replaceable under the insurance policy. Note: If you had a child safety seat (car seat) inside of the car at the time of the accident it will need to be replaced in order for it to be effective if you are ever involved in a car accident again. Make sure you let the insurance company know that there was a child safety seat in the car so that they know it needs to be replaced.
- Contact a personal injury lawyer - If you were injured in a car accident you will want to make sure you contact an injury lawyer. The lawyer will be able to meet with you and discuss your case with you. Once you find the right injury lawyer you will be asked to sign a retainer agreement (a retainer agreement discusses the amount of the lawyers fee - which for injury attorneys is usually 33 1/3%). Hiring an injury lawyer will benefit you in many ways. Sometimes people are unsure of hiring an injury lawyer because they feel they do not have the money to hire a lawyer. Injury lawyers usually do not ask for payment upfront and usually only get paid their fee once you receive your compensations for damages and injuries. Injury lawyers are able to fight on your behalf and know how much your case should be worth. If a good experienced injury lawyer can not get the amount of money that is fair to you for your injury case they will not settle instead they will take the case to court to try to get you the correct compensation for your case.
- Make and keep your follow up appointments - You will want to make sure you do not miss or fail to make any follow up appointments that are needed to treat your injuries. When you go to your follow up appointments be honest and detailed when speaking to your doctor. You will want to make sure you tell the doctors of any symptoms, complications, fears or concerns you may have. Keep in mind never to over exaggerate your symptoms but also never to undermine them either.
- Do not speak to certain people about the accident - You should avoid speaking about the accident to the opposing lawyer, the opposing party (person who your got into the accident with), insurance companies and insurance adjusters. Always follow the advice of your lawyers and doctors and do not discuss the case with anyone other than them including any legal advice that you receive.
- Collect all necessary supporting documents - You will want to make sure you and your lawyer have access to and gather all necessary documents such as the police report from the accident, medical reports and any other information that is relevant to your accident and/or injury.
- Hold off on repairs until you take pictures - Do not have your car sent to a repair shop before you take pictures of the damages done to your vehicle. Even if your insurance adjuster already took pictures you will want to make sure to take pictures of your own. Aside from just taking pictures of your damaged vehicle you will want to take pictures of the accident scene and any bruising, cuts or scars that you have from the accident.
- Again do not make any moves that your accident lawyer does not advise to do - You will want to run every move you make regarding your accident case by your lawyer. Do not plea guilty to a ticket in connection with your accident, do not sign a release for your insurance company to obtain your medical records and do not let the insurance adjusters try to pressure you into settling your case. Your lawyer should be the one who discusses all of these decisions with you and lets you know what is in your best interest.
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