1. Get the contact information of every witness who saw the accident or who saw how you were injured.
You would be surprised how the driver at fault might change his story and go from apologizing to you at the scene of the accident to denying any responsibility for causing the accident just a few days later. Also, it’s important to contact the witnesses sooner rather than later, as memory of events tends to fade and these potential witnesses are not nearly as likely to remember as many details about your accident later as they are shortly after the accident. Also, the longer you wait the more likely your potential witnesses to be unavailable due to moving, changing their phone number, traveling for work, etc.
2. Take photos of the vehicle involved in the accident and any signs of damage as well as your injuries, including any blood and bruising.
Take the photos of the interior and the exterior damage to your vehicle (especially if the glass was shattered and/or the airbags deployed). Make sure that you also take pictures of any bruising on your body, including a mark from a restraining belt, and of course – any signs of bleeding or swelling as soon as you notice it. If you are unable to take picture of a certain injury mark (such as head injury), ask someone else to take those pictures as soon as possible. Pictures make a much stronger statement than a 100 words to an insurance company, their lawyer, the court and the jury, especially if your injuries are serious and if the damage to your vehicle is significant. If you have been involved in a slip and fall incident, take photos of your injury, the scene of the incident, and the condition on the floor that resulted in your fall.
3. Keep your shoes and the close that you were wearing during the incident, if there is any sign of damage on them.
If you were involved in a slip-and-fall accident or you were a pedestrian hit by a car, make sure you keep your clothes that might have been torn during the incident and also keep your shoes. This is important because later, the defendants will try to blame your fall on the fact that your shoes were old or slippery, or other factors related to your clothes. For more slip and fall injury tips please read our top five tips for victims of slip and fall injuries.
4. Get evaluated by a physician and get treated as soon as possible after the incident.
Waiting and not getting treatment because you think you don’t need it or because you think you can’t afford is one of the most common mistakes that victims of injury accidents make that often significantly reduces the value of their injury claim. Make sure you get evaluated promptly – within a few days or sooner if possible. Not doing so gives the insurance company a convincing argument that if you were hurting as badly as you say you were, you would have gone to see a doctor sooner.
5. Don’t give any statements to insurance companies without legal representation.
If you think that you will be looking for an attorney to represent you in your injury claim, don’t give any statements to the insurance company representative without being prepared by your attorney and without your attorney’s presence. There is absolutely no rush in giving that statement. You can easily tell the insurance adjuster who calls you and who wants to get your statement that you will get back to them in a few days or weeks once you discuss your case with an attorney or that your attorney will contact them shortly. Remember, in most injury cases, the statute of limitations is two years, i.e. you have up to 2 years to either settle your injury claim out of court or file a lawsuit. There is no rush to talk to anyone when you are not ready, and it’s better to do it right than do it quickly.