Initial Steps in Making an Accident Claim
Preservation of evidence for your case
After an accident the very first and most important requirement (from the point of view of making a claim) is usually to preserve whatever evidence is available regarding the accident. This usually involves keeping/saving/storing/preserving whatever evidence it is possible to keep/save/store/preserve and photographing/videotaping all evidence that may for some reason be perishable or subject to change. It also involves locating and interviewing witnesses to the accident and others who may be familiar with the conditions which gave rise to the accident.
All products- such as appliances, furniture, containers, medications, food, etc.- involved in the accident should be saved. Specific examination and testing is often required. The vehicles involved in a severe collision should be saved for inspection by experts. The cause of a motor vehicle accident can often be determined by an expert’s inspection of the vehicles involved. A dangerous condition which gives rise to the accident should be photographed and/or videotaped as soon as possible. Otherwise it may change or be changed before the necessary evidence to pursue the claim has been gathered. Interviews should be conducted promptly- before memories fade or subsequent events corrupt the memory’s recall. Identifying and locating witnesses and obtaining accurate recall of the events surrounding the accident becomes progressively more difficult with each day that elapses after an accident. Delay may prove to be very costly. So please don’t delay.
Proper preservation and documentation of the evidence related to your claims may require experienced investigators and even the involvement of trained scientists and engineers. These expenses can be fairly steep. They are particularly steep for a family already dealing with the financial burdens of an accident.
If you retain this office on your case, we will be happy to assist you in keeping/saving/storing/preserving evidence and in photographing/video-taping and otherwise documenting facts and circumstances related to your claims. These costs will be advanced by us for your case.
Accident report/incident report
After an accident it is important to begin to record all information relevant to that accident. In a car accident, drivers exchange names, addresses, phone numbers and insurance information. If the police are called, a lot of additional information is usually recorded in the police report. In a slip and fall accident, the injured person- or his representative- should file an incident report as soon as possible with the owner of the premises where the accident occurred. This report should indicate the approximate location, the date and the time of the injury and a very brief statement (one sentence) of what happened. Similar incident reports can be generated for dangerous product claims, maritime claims, and other claims. The existence of an incident report can be helpful in answering an insurer’s first concerns regarding an accident- did this accident really happen and was my insured involved?
Medical information for your claim
As soon as reasonably possible after an accident, an injured person should seek qualified medical attention. Although medical care is pretty expensive, the absence of medical care- especially for an extended period of time- may be even more expensive to an injured person. Such delay may significantly damage the valuation of a personal injury claim. It creates uncertainty in the insurer’s assessment of the injuries- were they truly a result of this accident? It may also create doubt in the minds of jurors- if the injuries were serious enough for a lawsuit, why wasn’t a doctor consulted? See a qualified doctor for your treatment and someone that you trust. Be aware that there are some doctors who bias their opinions in favor of insurance companies. You will want to avoid having such a doctor as your treating doctor.
Employment information for your claim
In order to make a lost earnings claim, you will need to have one or more off-work slips (with specific dates indicated) and proof of the earnings lost during that period. The earnings lost can be proven by payroll records, a letter from the employer or other appropriate documentation. For accidents in Hawaii, a wage loss claim is sometimes available under TDI, worker’s compensation or occasionally as part of the no fault coverages in a car accident.
Most insurance adjusters will want to take a recorded statement from a claimant before completing evaluation of a claim. This statement may be used later to attempt to attack a claimant’s credibility. Giving such a statement without the advice and assistance of an attorney carries significant risk. Most claimants are well advised to obtain the services of a competent and experienced personal injury attorney to protect their legal rights before proceeding with such an interview.
In short, there are many steps to be taken to establish a personal injury case once an accident has occurred which may give rise to a claim. Evidence must be preserved, photographs/videotapes must be taken and witnesses must be located and interviewed. Other basic investigation must be undertaken and information must be gathered. Within a short period of time, much evidence (and perhaps evidence crucial to the case) will be lost. To obtain a satisfactory resolution of the case later, the proper groundwork must be laid at the earliest possible date.
Contact us now for a free evaluation of your case.