If another driver has caused an accident and you suffer from an injury, you are entitled to claim compensation from that driver’s insurance company (or in some cases, the nominal defendant) to help pay for your losses including any income loss from your injuries, medical expenses, out of pocket costs and pain and suffering.
To be successful in a car accident claim, you will have to prove that the other driver was liable for the accident, that the accident caused your injuries, and that the compensation that you are claiming is a result of the accident.
Contrary to what some clients may believe damages do not include moral principles or if the driver or his insurance company was being rude and hurt your feelings. Emotions are a critical challenge in a personal injury claim and it is important to keep a clear mind when handling a car accident scene.
Here are some suggestions:
If possible, make sure that all affected vehicles in the accident are off the road. If there are injured people, then make sure they are away from potential threats such as other cars or any debris or hazards within the accident scene.
However, before you move the cars and only if it is safe to do so, try to take a picture of the original accident scene if you have a camera handy. It will be helpful later on when you make a personal injury claim.
If there are serious injuries or damage, contact emergency services right away. If the negligent driver is apprehensive and wants to make an arrangement that does not involve filing an accident report, do not agree to those arrangements.
Even if the at-fault-driver has personal reasons for not making an accident report, you do not want to assist them in evading the law. Doing so may result in adverse effects to your legal rights.
Comfort the injured and any dependents. But also be careful.
While waiting for the police, ambulance and other emergency services, make reasonable efforts to comfort others. Even if you are not at fault, avoid saying things that imply fault such as “I’m sorry” or “This was my fault.”
Later on when the police arrive, you want to make sure that any following statements are as objective as possible. Do not give others an opportunity to misconstrue your own words.
Make sure that information is exchanged with the other driver
It is a good idea to exchange contact information, driver’s insurance and license information with the negligent driver. If the driver does not have a licence, it may be helpful to try to get photo ID or some other form of identification.
It is important that you get the negligent driver’s full name and address. Contact information such as mobile, email and home phone numbers are also helpful. If possible, it may also be useful to request an alternative contact from the driver such as a partner, family member or friend in case they are unreachable.
Get photos and/or videos of the accident scene.
It is true when they say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Capturing images of the accident scene exactly as they are will be helpful to proving your claim after. This is especially true if the claim is supported if the driver engaged in unsafe or illegal driving. Make sure to record the accident scene exactly as it is right after the accident if it is safe and possible to do so.
Other helpful pictures include recording any injuries, damage to the cars, skid marks, broken car parts, damage to guardrails or trees or other stationary objects.
Listen for admissions of guilt.
If the other driver is being difficult and failing to provide information, it may be helpful to use your phone to record verbal statements or the conversation you are having with the driver. Such evidence at the time of the accident, especially statements that admit fault, may be useful in proving your claim especially if the other driver is being difficult or aggressive towards you.
Get the contact information for any witnesses.
If you can, passengers and other witnesses should be spoken to and have their contact information collected. They may be contacted later on to serve as witnesses to the accident. If they are reluctant to talk, then ask them to write down what they saw and date and sign every page of their statement.
Record your own statement for YOUR OWN lawyer
You may be shaken up from the accident and later on it may be difficult to recall information from the accident. Thus, it is important to write down your own information ASAP while it is still fresh in your head. Describe in detail how the accident happened and what your injuries were.
Do NOT provide this statement to the insurance company or others until you have first consulted with a lawyer.
Make sure you can access the police report
Before the police allow you to leave or clear the accident scene, ask them for their contact details so you can call them to obtain the reference number of their report so your lawyer can get a copy of the police report as soon as possible.
This is important because the report will provide your personal injury lawyer with a description of the collision, and the officer’s own notes and assessment of fault.
The police report may also include traffic violations the officer thinks may have contributed to the accident as well as any citations issued.
Accept immediate medical care, or get medical care ASAP.
If paramedics recommend that you go to the hospital, then comply and go with them. Often, adrenaline will mask the pain from a serious injury so it is important that you are assessed by a doctor as soon as possible.
If an ambulance is not required, then make sure you follow up as soon as possible with medical treatment from your family doctor. Your physician may be able to refer you to additional treatment to help with your injuries. This is also an important step in establishing your medical record for evidence in your personal injury claim.
See a Brisbane personal injury lawyer
Do not try to contact the other driver’s insurance company on your own. If they contact you first and request a recorded statement, then politely let them know that you’re still a bit shaken up and need a few more days.
In this way, you can have a bit of time to sort out your thoughts and seek legal advice.
Even if you feel that your injuries are minor, you should still consult a personal injury lawyer. Most initial consultations for a personal injury claim are free and can be an invaluable resource to help you understand your legal rights and potential for compensation.
East Coast Injury Lawyers
Questions? Contact us by filling out our review form or giving us a call.