What to do Immediately After an Accident
Know What to do the First 72 Hours After An Accident
How well you handle your claim from the beginning may have a big effect on your attorney's ability to advocate for you and settle your claim later. During the first 72 hours after the accident, do your best to take the following steps to preserve evidence and document your injuries and damages:
- Keep track of who you speak to by writing it all down. During the first 72 hours after an accident, you may receive many telephone calls from insurance companies and need to make many calls regarding arranging to have your vehicle repaired, arrange for a rental car and attend medical appointments. Taking good notes of who called and what was discussed is the best way to preserve your memory for later.
- Write down how the accident occurred. Although this is a time when you may be in pain and overwhelmed with the number of things you need to take care of, its important to write down what you remember about the accident. Who, in your opinion, caused the accident? What was at the scene of the accident and what was said? Every detail that you remember may be crucial to assisting your attorney in proving who was responsible for the accident so don't leave anything out, no matter how insignificant you think it might be.
- Keep a pain journal and track how your injuries are impacting your life. Make daily notes on a calendar or in a diary about your pain and discomfort. Include a rating of how much pain you are in based on a 1 through 10 scale, 1 being little pain and 10 being the most pain you've ever experienced. Remember to include in your notes those activities that you planned to participate in that you were unable to attend due to your injuries. Document how the injuries have affected your sleep, ability to concentrate, and your patience level with your spouse or children. Document all time lost at work due to the accident or medical appointments you attend to address your injuries.
- Take pictures of the scene of the accident. Look for signs of the accident including tire skid marks and debris. Take pictures of the scene at several different angles if it is safe to do so. Take pictures of any conditions you believe may have caused or contributed to the accident. Pay attention to those around you. You may find a witness that did not originally come forward!
- Take pictures of the damage to your vehicle even if you think that others have already done so. Make sure to take those pictures at several different angles. Make sure the photos are either date stamped or that someone else observes you taking the pictures on the date and time you did it, so they can attest to the date and time the photos were taken in the future.
- Contact your own insurance company to report the accident. If you have injuries, request a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) application for medical treatment. Fill out the PIP form and return it to your insurance company. Remember to keep a copy for your records. Be sure to write down your claim number so you can provide it to your medical providers. Medical providers who are informed that the injuries are due to an accident will forward their medical bills to PIP for direct payment.
- File the appropriate accident form with the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) within 72 hours of the accident if possible. DMV requires you to file an accident report whenever someone was injured in an accident or there's more than $1,500.00 in damage to a vehicle. If you miss the deadline for filing the report within 72 hours, don't panic! Just get it done as soon as possible and keep a copy for your records.
Portland Accident Settlement and Claims Attorney
BEWARE of insurance companies who ask you to sign a medical release to access your medical records and medical history. Speak to a lawyer before signing any form which gives someone else the right to request your medical records or inquire into your medical history.
BEWARE of insurance companies who attempt to offer you a settlement for your injuries early in the process and prior to you being fully healed from your injuries. If you settle your case for a small sum and thereafter discover that you have much more serious injuries which will require a protracted amount of time to heal, you will have barred yourself from seeking additional money for pain and suffering.
NEVER SETTLE your claim if a doctor has not indicated you are "medically stationary" and back to pre-accident status or as close to pre-accident status as you're likely to get. Seek the advice of an attorney to discuss your options and hire an attorney to represent you if you are uncomfortable with advocating for yourself and valuing your case.
I am attorney Shelley L. Fuller, and I take pride in ourselves on helping our clients through these tough and often painful times. I will zealously pursue compensation for you to reimburse you for your pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and full payment of your past or future medical expenses. Don't wait to call an attorney. You can never have one too soon to protect your rights and stop those insurance companies from constantly calling and pressuring you to take small for serious injuries. Contact my law firm today online or call 503-626-1808l to schedule a free initial consultation.