In many cases, the first 48 hours after a crime is the most controversial point of a criminal investigation. Many people claim that officers and investigators must be very aggressive, or else the case goes cold and becomes almost unsolvable. Others counter that such activity creates a rush to judgment.
Somewhat similarly, the first 48 hours after a vehicle collision are critical as well. During this brief window, some things happen which could greatly assist, or virtually cripple, your claim for damages.
In any case, a good start is often the key to a successful outcome for New York personal injury lawyers. And, there is a lot at stake. Damages in a vehicle collision case usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may be available as well, in some cases.
DO Call a Lawyer
If you do not do anything else on this list, always call an attorney if you are injured in a car crash. If a serious injury prevents you from making the call at the scene, reach out to an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. Even if you think you were at fault, an attorney may be able to obtain the aforementioned injury compensation.
Not just any lawyer will do. Your attorney must be very tenacious because although compensation is available, the insurance company will not give up without a fight. Furthermore, your lawyer must be experienced. Your serious injury claim is no time for on-the-job training.
People routinely say “I’m sorry” to express sympathy. We say “I’m sorry” if our spouses have bad days at work or our friends cannot find good parking spaces. These apologies are not admissions of fault, because clearly, we had nothing to do with the bad situation.
But negligence law is different, and an apology could be construed as an admission of liability. You can be confident that insurance company lawyers will try to frame the apology as such. If nothing else, insurance company lawyers may claim the apology meant that the victim had a flippant attitude about the wreck.
You can still express sympathy. Say something like, “I’m sorry this wreck happened to you,” or “What can I do to help?”
DO Collect Evidence
Emergency responders normally prepare accident reports. But even the most experienced first responder is not an accident reconstructionist. Furthermore, responders do not consider all the evidence before they write these preliminary reports. So, it may be up to the victim to collect additional evidence.
Snap as many pictures as you can and get as many names as you can. In court, a picture truly is sometimes worth a thousand words. Additionally, the more names your lawyer has, the more evidence you will be able to present at trial. Adverse witnesses are good too. They give an attorney an idea as to possible insurance company defenses.
DON’T Talk to the Other Insurance Company
Victims have no legal obligation to give statements to the other drivers’ insurance companies. Doing so may significantly hurt your case.
Subtle interrogation is a good example. Highly-trained insurance company phone adjusters know how to extract damaging information from victims without them even knowing it. So, once again, your attorney may be in damage control and catch-up mode before the case even gets started.
After you talk to your lawyer, let your lawyer call the other insurance company. They can wait a couple of days to close their file.
Contact a Manhattan Car Accident Attorney
Victims can do a lot to help, or hurt, their claims in the immediate wake of a car crash. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in New York, contact Michael J. Redenburg, Esq. P.C. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.