This month, I have looked at what is involved when a person had a new personal injury claim. Hopefully, whether you call us or not, it will help with the questions that start off right after a claim:
Figure out who is at fault
Early investigation is vital to determine who is at fault. Witnesses need to be contacted and often early statements can make a difference as to what is documented and what is remembered. Skilled investigators can be vital to these claims.
Photographs can save the day
It is not unusual to find that early photographs go a long way to document injuries and to help with determining issues such as causation and fault. Defense attorneys will often try to ask about why photographs were taken so you know that they hate to see them. The reason is documentation.
Witnesses are important
Collisions happen fast and for a person who is injured, they have so many things going on at the scene. However, everything should be done to get the names and contact information of the people who show up at the scene. They can play vital roles in confirming what was going on and how the collision happened.
Don’t be afraid to ask why
It is not unusual to have clients arrive and ask to know things about why the collision happened. The defendant just lost their job, was on the way to a funeral, or some other life issue. That same defendant after talking to an insurance adjuster or defense attorney will often later say that they weren’t distracted and they have no idea why they just drove through that red light or stop sign. So asking can make a difference.
Call the police
It is not unusual to talk to new clients who will say the defendant didn’t want to call anyone so they took the insurance information and didn’t call anyone. Guess what the defense tries to make a big deal out of? So call the police and at least get the collision documented.
Get the contact information of the defendant
There are Minnesota cases that say that an uninsured motorist case cannot be made if the plaintiff could have gotten contact information from the defendant and didn’t. So if you are in a collision, make sure you get all the information you can from the defendant.
Get checked out medically
If you are in a collision, it’s worth getting checked out right away. You can get the peace of mind that you are ok and also protect yourself if you have another collision a short time later. We have seen too many times where the insurance companies have stressed a prior collision because there was no medical proof one way or the other. So it’s worth getting medically cleared.
Look around at the scene
There is often all sorts of evidence that can be found at the scene after a collision. Pictures of skid marks or debris that is left behind can be important. We had one case where empty beer cans had been thrown out of the defendant’s car. So see what is out there, or if you are hurt, have someone do it for you.
Ask about who is in the defendants car
It’s not unusual to find out that people who are there don’t want to be known or may not be supposed to be there. It may be the reason why the driver was distracted or had other issues going on. This is early information that may never be found out if no one asks that day.
Make sure you look at your whole car
Insurance companies love to take photos of the outside without looking underneath the bumper or at all of the car. So it’s worth to check the trunk, look at trunk spacing, and always check underneath the vehicle. Those can be photos that explain a lot about the impact.
Think before you give a recorded statement
Remember that the adjusters know why they are asking certain questions. They call you week after week to wear you down and to get statements that mean things different than reality. It is these kinds of statements that are used to say you are at fault or that you aren’t really hurt. It helps to have legal representation on your side before you give that statement.
Think before you sign anything
Remember that the adjusters aren’t on your side. They often are in the business to minimize liability and the cost to their company. They call you week after week to wear you down and to get you to sign off on the claims. It helps to have legal representation on your side to see what it is that you are signing.
Get legal advice from a personal injury lawyer
It’s not unusual for clients to get advice from just about everyone. Friends, relatives, uncles of friends that heard a lawyer say…., but take the time to talk to a lawyer that does this kind of work. They can give you the best advice as to what your rights are and what the issues involved may be.
These answers are not intended to replace a consultation with an attorney, nor do they take into consideration facts that may differ about your particular case. Here at the Legal Examiner, we have experienced attorneys who can deal with your individual questions and best help you with your case. Feel free to get the help you need by contacting one of us.
A founding partner with Bradshaw & Bryant, Mike Bryant has always fought to find justice for his clients—knowing that legal troubles, both personal injury and criminal, can be devastating for a family. Voted a Top 40 Personal Injury "Super Lawyer" multiple years, Mr. Bryant has also been voted one of the Top 100 Minnesota "Super Lawyers" four times.