What to Do in Case You Have an Accident

by Marvin Stuart Lanter, Esquire

Thousands of people suffer personal injury in the country every year. Many of these people are not compensated because of their inaction at the time the accident occurred.

This article will describe to you the steps you must take in the event you are involved in either an automobile or premises liability (slip and fall) accident to protect your right to be compensated.

I have been practicing law for twenty years. I have been retained by hundreds of people to represent them in personal injury cases. Your right to be compensated will be greatly effected by the information you gather at the time of the incident. Remember, there is no recorder operating at the time of the accident. The issue as to which party was at fault will be based upon the recollection of facts by you and other witnesses and certain types of physical evidence.

A typical automobile accident occurs upon impact of an automobile with another object, such as another automobile, person or physical obstacle. A typical premises liability case occurs when either you slip (or trip) in a commercial, residential, or industrial location. In both cases, you first must protect your own physical well being. If you are injured, immediate first aid should be rendered. You should seek immediate first aid treatment by way of paramedic and/or emergency hospital care.

If there is any question in your mind regarding the seriousness of your injury, you should err towards caution.

I have been involved in numerous situations in which people have suffered head concussions and did not realize it until 24 or 48 hours later. These persons should have been checked into an emergency hospital immediately after the accident.

An immediate problem arises after you are involved in an accident in regard to protecting critical evidence. On the one hand you should seek medical care; and on the other hand, as time passes, certain valuable evidence by way of witnesses and physical evidence is disappearing. In the event you are seriously injured, if there is another person available, I would recommend that they take the following steps at the accident site. You may be able to at least accomplish some of these steps while you are awaiting medical care or in the event that you are not seriously injured.

Important Things to Gather and Be Aware of After an Accident

In the event that you have an automobile accident, you should obtain the following information from the other party:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Home phone number
  • Work phone number
  • Work address
  • Drivers license
  • Automobile license plate number
  • Automobile make
  • Registered owner
  • Name of their insurance company
  • Address; agent; policy number
  • Time and place of accident

Witnesses: Also, the names, home and business addresses, and telephone numbers of any witnesses who saw the accident.

Pictures: If you happen to have a camera in your car, take as many photographs as possible of the vehicles involved and the accident site. If you do not have a camera buy a “throw away” camera from the drugstore or supermarket and go back and take photographs.

Also, make careful note and take photos of any physical debris on the road, such as glass, plastic from indicator lights, and/or pieces of metal and any other piece of the automobile involved in the accident.

In addition, to the above, you should note the following:

  • Any and all skid marks
  • Weather conditions
  • Lighting conditions
  • Traffic signals and signs
  • Road conditions
  • Pot holes
  • Oil slicks
  • Windshields of other vehicle(s)
  • Objects blocking view
  • Remains of liquid or food in the inside of the other automobile
  • Mental state (re: alcohol or drugs) of the other driver

Call the Police: Always call the police and request their presence at the site. If the police arrive take their names and badge numbers. Also, request the police to take a report in the matter. If they do, ask them if they could give you the D.R. (driver’s report) number of the accident report. Carefully explain to the officers everything that you have observed or heard at the time of the accident. Particularly, point out to them any physical evidence that you had seen in the road or in the other driver’s automobile. Remember, in all likelihood physical evidence by way of skid marks, glass and/or plastic in the road or evidence of objects in the other person’s car, will disappear.

Answers to all the above questions should be written down on a piece of paper for later reference.

In the event you slip (or trip) and fall you must also take similar steps as those stated above.

Note the following conditions on a piece of paper:

  • Lighting conditions
  • Level of floor
  • Defect in the floor
  • Debris, liquid or garbage on the floor
  • Problems with steps or railings
  • Problems with loose carpet
  • Slippery floor
  • Cracked concrete
  • Uneven walk-way
  • Soft black top
  • Once again gather names of witnesses
  • Keep any and all clothes and shoes you wore on the date of the accident

In the event that you are injured on a commercial premises, a report may be taken by store personnel. Explain to the person taking the report that you will only answer their questions if they give you a copy of the statement. If you feel unable to answer any of their questions because of your condition, politely refuse and state you will be very happy to answer their questions at a later date. Do not feel pressured to answer, in that you are not required to do so. Unfortunately, I have had many instances of supermarket and department store personnel asking unfair questions to injured parties or inaccurately noting down information on accident reports and having injured parties signing these reports. This is a deceitful and unfair practice. I would recommend that you do not sign or make any statement unless you feel physically able to do so. Also, it would be quite helpful to have photographs taken at the scene of the accident as soon as possible.

As soon as you are physically able to do so you must contact competent legal counsel. If you are physically unable to contact an attorney, have either a friend or relative do so. Also, it is very important that you contact an attorney that specializes in personal injury law. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to obtain evidence by way of witness statements and/or possession of physical evidence. An experienced personal injury attorney will contact a professional investigator whose job is to acquire physical evidence and obtain witness statements. The quicker you contact an experienced, personal injury attorney, the more likely you will be able to collect monetary damages for medical bills, property damage, loss of earnings and pain and suffering.

Unfortunately, insurance companies do not pay money willingly. The insurance company can be expected to thoroughly investigate your accident. The insurance company, will hire a private investigator to gather evidence and witness statements favorable to their position. You should also be aware that insurance companies have been known to hire private investigators to conduct surveillance on you by way of tape recorders, and/or motion pictures or video recordings.

After the accident occurs there are a number of things that you could do that can also help your case. When you check into the emergency room, and/or see a medical doctor, make sure that you answer any and all questions they ask you in an accurate fashion – do not guess.

Further, it would be a great help in your case if you keep a daily diary of all your physical and mental complaints. This will help you remember important facts in regard to your medical condition and pain and suffering when your case is either settled or comes to trial.

I hope the above recommended steps will aid you if you have the unfortunate situation to be personally injured by way of either automobile or slip and fall accident.

If you have suffered personal injury or do so in the future, please call:

Law Office of Marvin Stuart Lanter
1925 Century Park East #2000
Los Angeles, California , 90067-2721
phone: 310-276-1142
fax: 310-276-1051

email: mlanter@lanterlaw.com

Law Offices of Marvin Stuart Lanter – © 2008

© 2017 The Law Office of Marvin S. Lanter, Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer. All Rights Reserved.
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