What you do right after an accident may determine whether you will receive any compensation for your injuries.
Let’s say that someone else’s negligence caused an accident that injured you. It might have been a car accident in Paterson. Or perhaps you slipped and fell on a wet floor at a store in Paramus. Or maybe a neighbor’s dog in Clifton bit you. However, it happened, here are five things that you must do after virtually any accident, to maximize your chances for a monetary award:
WHAT TO DO IMMEDIATELY AFTER AN ACCIDENT
1. REPORT THE ACCIDENT. If it’s a traffic accident or a dog bite, call the police and wait for them to arrive at the scene. Then tell the officer what happened. Ask how you can later obtain a copy of the police report.
If it’s a slip and fall accident at a business, report the accident to the manager. Ask for a copy of the store incident report.
In case of an animal bite, also report the incident to municipal animal control.
2. PRESERVE THE EVIDENCE. Obtain all contact information for all witnesses. This includes their names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. Make sure to get the same information for whomever else was involved in the accident. In the case of a car crash, also get the other driver’s car insurance information.
Photograph the scene, any hazards that caused the accident, and your injuries. Also take pictures of all vehicles involved, any animals involved, and any skid marks or property damage at the scene.
You should also request that any SURVEILLANCE VIDEO of the accident be preserved, and a copy of the video sent to you. Make the request orally, in front of the witnesses, and follow up later that day with a written letter. Preferably, send the letter through a same-day messenger service. Delivery by next-day Express Mail is next best. Either way, obtain and retain written delivery confirmation.
Finally, keep, and don’t wash or wear again, the clothing and shoes you were wearing at the time of the accident.
3. CALL AN AMBULANCE. Let it take you to the ER.
4. DON’T ARGUE, APOLOGIZE OR ADMIT ANYTHING. You should just tell the FACTS of what happened to whomever you report the accident to.
5. CONTACT A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER as soon as you can. After an accident, an experienced New Jersey lawyer can guide you as to precisely what you should and shouldn’t do in your specific situation. Further, a lawyer can take the some or all of the burden of obtaining and preserving evidence off of your shoulders.
Of course, every situation is different. It’s impossible to list precisely what you should do in a situation that hasn’t happened yet. (That’s another reason you want to consult a good injury lawyer immediately after an accident). But if you follow the five steps that I have recommended, your case will likely start off on the right foot.