You have been injured in an accident. What do you do now? Since you are searching the web, you know that it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. But what else should you do?
GET MEDICAL CARE
The first step after an accident is to make sure you get appropriate medical care. If you were taken to an emergency room, you may have been admitted to the hospital if your injury was very serious. In most situations, you were most likely examined, given various x-rays, sent home with some pills, and told to follow up with a doctor.
It is important that you follow up with a doctor, either the one the hospital referred you to another doctor of your choosing but in the area of specialization as the doctor to whom you were referred by the hospital. That should be done as soon as possible after your discharge from the hospital, even if you are feeling a bit better.
Continuing medical care is important to help you get better. It is also crucial if you are planning to seek compensation for your injury. When insurance companies evaluate cases for settlement, the first thing examined is the type and frequency of medical care received. It is important to make all your appointments. If there is a series of missed appointments or a gap in your medical care, the insurance companies assume you are not seriously injured. This will lower the settlement value of your case.
REPORT THE ACCIDENT
If you are injured in a car accident and the police came to the scene, an accident report has already been prepared. You should obtain a copy from the police department that responded to the scene. If you are unsure of the police department, a copy of your report can be obtained from the website for the New York Department of Motor Vehicles.
If you are injured at work, your employer will likely complete an accident report for its own internal records and to institute your claim for workers compensation benefits.
If you are injured at a commercial establishment, such as a store, the store manager may complete a report. If he does not, make sure that you communicate with the store soon after the accident.
If you are injured at a private location, or at a government facility, sidewalk or street, it is unlikely that a report will be completed. It is important that you contact a lawyer as soon as possible to make sure that notice is provided. If the accident was at a government facility, or in a street or sidewalk, there are statutory time frames which must be met; usually no more than 90 days after the date of the accident. It is important that your attorney completes the necessary Notice of Claim forms and gets them to the appropriate government entity.
CONTACT THE INSURANCE COMPANY
If you are injured in a car accident, you must contact the insurance company that will be paying your medical benefits. If you are in a car, the insurance company for the owner of the car will provide those benefits, regardless of who is at fault. That is why the insurance is called No-Fault insurance. If you are the owner, then it is your auto insurance company which will pay.
If you are a pedestrian, the owner of the vehicle that hit you will pay for the medical benefits.
If the insurance company is not your insurance company, the identify of the insurance company for the responsible vehicle will be found on the police report, usually in a code in a box labeled “INS Code”. Your attorney will be able to help you identify the insurance company.
In accidents other than a car accident, it is difficult to determine which insurance companies may be involved. Your attorney will write to the responsible party and ask that the insurance company be contacted. When the injury occurs at a commercial property or private home, the insurance policy may provide for the payment of a fixed dollar amount for your medical expenses. That amount will be paid by the insurance company regardless of who is at fault.