So you’ve been involved in a car accident and want to know if you are able to file a personal injury claim to gain compensation. Well we are going to tell you how to build a personal injury claim after an accident. First you need to know if you even have a legitimate claim. To have a legitimate claim you must be able to show that the other driver is the one who cause the accident, and that you suffered tangible damages. Tangible damages are not things such as whether or not the other driver was rude, or if your feelings were hurt. No, tangible damages include injuries which required medical/therapeutic treatment, wages lost while treating/recovering from your injuries, out-of-pocket expenses that are related to injuries, and any pain and suffering related to all of the above.
If you have been injured in a collision there are a few steps you can take to strengthen your potential claim that could enable you to get full compensation for your injures and damages. So lets go over the 12 steps you can and should take to help build your personal injury claim.
- Call 911 and Maintain Safety: Never let the other driver talk you out of calling 911 because you need the official accident report. This means even if the damage is minor or the other driver has some reasons for wanting to avoid an official accident report you still need to make the call to 911. After calling 911 keep a safe distance from other traffic and when the police get there they will cordon the area.
- Comfort the Injured: Be sure to make an effort to comfort those who may be injured while waiting for emergency services to arrive. You want to be sure to avoid making any statements that would imply negligence like “I’m sorry”.
- Exchange Information with the Other Driver: You are going to want to ask the other driver for their license and insurance card. If they don’t have a driver’s license then be sure to get their photo ID. You should then write down the driver’s full name and address as well as email address, home, work, and cell numbers, and the names of some friends or family you can contact if you are unable to reach the driver.
- Take Photos and Videos: It is important to know that you can never have too many pictures. You want to make sure to record the scene exactly as it is right after the accident. This means you want to get the position of the cars and everything. Be sure to photograph the damage to the cars, skid marks, broken car parts, damaged guardrails/trees/other damaged stationary objects, and if possible your own injuries.
- Listen for Admissions Against Interest: What this basically means is that you want to listen for admissions of fault. To do so it would be best if you used your phone to record statements made by the other driver.
- Look for Witnesses and Get Their Statements: You want to look for any people around who witnessed the accident. This could be a passenger in your car or independent third parties who saw the collision from where they were. You will want to get their contact info and write down what they saw. Be sure to get a detailed description but be sure not coach them. Be sure they have them sign and date every page of their statement, which will make it admissible as evidence.
- Record Your Own Statement: Try to describe what happened in your own statement as well. Again you want to be as detailed as possible and just include facts. You should do this as soon as possible after the accident.
- Get the Police Report: Before the police clear the scene and allow everyone to leave be sure to ask them for the reference or service number of their report. This will make it easier for you to get the police report in a couple days.
- Accept Emergency Medical Care: Be sure to listen to the emergency care providers. If the paramedics think you should go to the hospital then you should go with them. Often the adrenaline after and accident can mask the pain of a serious injury. Remember that more often than not these professionals are more experienced than you when it comes to accessing injuries.
- Follow-up with Private Medical Care: If you didn’t go to the emergency room you should make an appointment to see you primary care doctor as soon as you can. Copies of your medical charts and any treatments are essential to building your personal injury case.
- Contact the Driver’s Insurance Company: In a few days, after your injuries are stabilized, you should notify the other driver’s insurance company. By that time the at-fault driver will probably have already opened a claim.
- Meet with an Attorney: Depending on how severe your injuries are you might want to consult with a personal injury attorney. If you only have minor injuries, and your damages are just a few thousand dollars then it might not be worth it to hire an attorney. Either way you should still speak with one since most don’t charge for an initial consultation.