Five Dos and Don’ts After a New York Car Crash
Most criminal investigators agree that the first 48 hours after a serious crime, like a murder, is the most critical period. If the case is unsolved after that point, there is about a 50 percent chance it will never be solved at all.
A claim for damages is much the same. Victims can do a lot to help, or hurt, their claims by the things they do and say, or do not do and say, in the moments after a crash. Indeed, if this period does not go smoothly, your New York personal injury attorney may have a hard time obtaining fair compensation for your injuries.
This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
DO Go to the Doctor
Many car crash victims refuse medical treatment, or they tell doctors at the hospital that they “feel fine” after they receive some cursory treatments. Adrenaline often has that effect. This natural painkiller masks symptoms. Once it wears off, victims feel the full brunt of their serious injuries.
Additionally, many car crash victims sustain head injuries. These injuries are difficult to diagnose because not everyone experiences the same symptoms. Moreover, the brain is very good at concealing its own injuries. So, once again, many victims tell doctors they “feel fine.”
So, it is very important to receive medical treatment from an experienced car crash physician. Only these professionals can properly diagnose and treat car crash injuries, like head wounds and whiplash.
These visits are also important for legal reasons. If the victim does not see a doctor immediately, the insurance company may later argue that the victim’s injuries must not have been very bad. This argument often resonates very well with New York jurors.
DON’T Talk to the Other Insurance Company
It is very important to tell your side of the story to your attorney, even if the facts are not entirely favorable to your case. But the other insurance company does not need to hear these things. Insurance company lawyers will use what you say against you in court, even though you were hurt at the time and not thinking clearly.
Additionally, clever insurance company telephone adjusters know how to gently extract damaging information from victims. So, many people hurt their claims greatly, but they do not know they are doing so.
Let your attorney handle this call. The company needs to hear your story, but there is no pressing need. Insurance agents can wait a few days to close their investigative files.
DO Collect Evidence
When first responders arrive, they are not there to collect evidence to build a future negligence claim. Moreover, even the most experienced emergency responder is not an accident reconstructionist, so important evidence may be overlooked.
So, this portion of a case usually falls on victims and their families. Take pictures of damage, get the names of witnesses, and take pictures of the surroundings.
Evidence collection is important because victim/plaintiffs have the burden of proof at trial. Moreover, there is often a direct relationship between the amount of evidence the victim/plaintiff presents and the number of damages the jury awards.
DON’T Say “I’m Sorry”
Many times, apologies express sympathy. If my child has a bad day at school, I may say “I’m sorry,” even though his bad day was not my fault.
But after a car crash, the rules are different. Apologies, even if they are meant to express sympathy, could be construed as admissions of liability. Furthermore, even if the statement was not recorded, it could be used in court.
So, instead of apologizing to express sympathy, say something like “How can I help you?” Or, better yet, do not say anything at all.
DO Call a Lawyer
Often, the victim is too seriously injured to do, or not do, any of these things. That’s where an experienced attorney comes in.
Medical attention is a good example. Many health insurance companies refuse to pay accident-related expenses. So, attorneys send letters of protection to medical providers, who then agree to defer billing until the case is resolved. In other words, victim/plaintiffs pay no money upfront to see top car crash physicians.
Attorneys use letters of protection to work with other providers in similar ways, like body shops and vehicle rental agencies.
Contact a New York Attorney
Successful endings often come from successful beginnings. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in New York, contact Michael J. Redenburg, Esq. P.C. Home and hospital visits are available.
In over a decade of legal practice, Attorney Michael Redenburg began his career defending cases for the clients of insurance companies. Initially defending no-fault claims at a Long Island-based law firm, he then moved on to a Manhattan-based firm where he defended the clients of insurance carriers in an auto accident and premises liability matters.