What Steps You Should Take if You Have Been Injured in a New Jersey Accident
What to do Immediately Following Any Accident
In general, it is in your best interest to begin gathering as much information about your accident/case before you begin talking to an attorney. This includes gathering information such as a police report that documents the accident, the names of the other parties, any records that evidence damages you have sustained (financial or physical damages), and whether you or the other party has an insurance policy that be applicable in your situation. Always take pictures with your cell phone of any relevant evidence, such as damage to cars or the area you slipped and fell. All this information will be helpful to your potential attorney as they review your claim.
After you an accident has occurred, there are some critical actions that you will want to take as well as some things you may want to avoid doing. Refer to the following list for some helpful tips to follow after an accident:
- Keep the Scene Intact. As best you can, make sure the cars stay in the same resting position after the accident. Obviously, if you are in danger of any kind then move out of harm's way. Take such protective actions as setting up flares of keeping your flashers on. If possible, stay in that position until the police arrive.
- Do not leave the scene. No matter what you do, never leave the scene of an accident regardless of how serious. If you do, you are subject to a ticket and serious penalties, including potential loss of license. Critical evidence may also be lost if you leave the scene.
- Immediately call the police. Call the police as soon as you can even if there are no serious injuries. Most likely, you will need a police report to file a claim with your insurance company. You will want a police report even if it is just to make a claim for damage to your vehicle.
- Make an Accurate Record. When the police arrive, make sure you tell the police exactly what happened. Now is not the time to be shy. Immediately advocate, without arguing or alienating the investigating officers, for your version of the events. If you are asked if you are hurt and you are not sure, then say that. Do not say no you are not hurt. You should also make sure statements made by other persons involved in the accident are accurate as well and the officers are aware of all witnesses
- Take pictures/video. With cell phones and digital cameras today, it is easy to get pictures, maybe even video. Take as many pictures as possible of the scene and all vehicles involved. You want to take pictures of the damage to the vehicles involved as this will better prove your case if you are not at fault. You also may want to take a picture of the roadway for skid marks or other areas at the scene that may show evidence of what happened. Likewise, you should take pictures of yourself, or others hurt in the accident if there are visible injuries.
- Make sure you obtain information of other drivers or parties involved. If police do not arrive at scene, then obtain the name, address and telephone number of all persons involved in the accident, both drivers and passengers, and any witnesses. Always obtain information about insurance of other drivers. For witnesses, you should get their personal information. If police do arrive, they will usually obtain this information. I have noticed in many cases, however, that police do not take down information on witnesses. Get those witnesses' information if you feel they will help your version of events. While talking to other parties, never admit fault or make promises as to medical care as these statements can later be used against you to show liability.
- Report Accident to Insurance Company. Notify your insurance company immediately after the accident. In New Jersey, most policies have personal injury protection coverage for medical treatment under your own policy, so you want that claim set up immediately if you are hurt.
- Obtain Medical Treatment. If you are hurt at all, seek medical treatment immediately. Many times, injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents do not show up right away. Unless you are positive you are not hurt, you should seek medical attention at your local hospital emergency room. You want to get fully checked out and any injuries fully treated.
- Organize records. Start a file on all your accident-related documents. This information should include an insurance claim number, the claim's adjuster who is handling the claim, names and phone numbers of all contacts and witnesses, pictures, receipts for any out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of the accident.
- Contact an attorney. You must protect your rights. Be guarded on what you say to insurance companies, even your own. The insurance companies are not your friends. Preferably, see the attorney before you speak to insurance companies. Do not give any written statements without speaking to your personal injury attorney. Our office will speak to you free of charge and give you initial advice even if you do not intend on pursuing a claim. This advice initially will save you a lot of time and headaches. Our office works on a contingency fee basis, which means there is no legal fee unless the attorney recovers compensation for your injuries.
Hiring an Attorney
After an accident, the aftermath can be a stressful and overwhelming time. However, hiring a personal injury attorney can help relieve some of that stress that you may be experiencing. By working with an experienced attorney, you can benefit from their knowledge of personal injury claims and how to build a strong case. Furthermore, you can avoid having to personally deal with insurance companies and instead rely on the guidance of your legal team to negotiate settlements and ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries.
When hiring a Personal Injury attorney, there are some vital questions that you may want to ask the attorney:
- What type of experience do you have in handling cases with my specific injuries?
- What percentage of your practice is focused on working with personal injury cases?
- How much of my case will you actually be working on?
- What is the typical settlement range for injuries and cases similar to my own?
- Am I responsible for any out-of-pocket fees?
- How are your fees structured?
- Do you ever work on a contingency basis?
- Are you a certified civil trial attorney?
At a minimum conduct a google search on the attorney to see what you can find.
Hiring a personal injury attorney can greatly increase your chances of receiving fair compensation for your injuries after an accident. With their expertise, the attorney can effectively present your case to insurance companies, judges, and juries to ensure the best possible outcome. Contact Scura, Wigfield, Heyer, Stevens & Cammarota, LLP today to schedule a free consultation of your case.
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