If I’ve Been Injured in an Accident Caused by Someone Else, Should I Exchange Information With the Other Driver? Is It Safe to Discuss the Accident With Them?
After an automobile accident, it is important that the information from the other driver (identification and insurance) be collected. In an ideal situation, the police would arrive soon after the accident and handle things from there because you really should minimize contact with the other driver. Tensions can be high after car accidents, and even a small wreck can turn into an unmanageable situation. In stressful settings, people also often overlook certain things they need to get.
For that reason, I recommend calling the police; they will make sure to collect the quantity of information that your attorney will need to move the case forward, while maintaining a safe environment. The other driver might say, “Don’t call the police. We can handle this between ourselves,” but I would at least make an effort to get police to the scene to take it from there. In many jurisdictions, the failure to report an accident is against the law.
Turning to injuries due to a fall, it is important that the injured person try to determine what caused the fall. After a fall, people tend to be embarrassed and want to get back to their feet as quickly as possible—falling is certainly not the most dignified of incidents. People just brush themselves off, and often depart the scene as quickly as possible. When you call me to represent you after a fall, one of the first questions I ask is “what made you fall?” If you do have a fall, I encourage you to immediately try to discern what it was that made you fall. It helps when people have the presence of mind to take a photograph of what caused their fall because the condition that caused the fall are often cleared up by the time the case reaches an attorney. If it was a weather condition, the weather will have cleared up. If it was a defect in the property, the landlord or the owner of the property may very well have repaired the property before the attorney can have an opportunity to get a photograph. That is what I would try to impress upon someone: be alert at the moment an accident occurs.
Do We Need to Call Law Enforcement to the Scene of an Accident? Will a Police Report Be Available to Me to Use in My Personal Injury Claim?
As I said before, I do recommend calling the police after an accident. When someone who’s been involved in an automobile accident comes to me for representation, I always ask to see a copy of the police report. The police report contains a lot of critical information, making it the starting point for the investigation of the case that your attorney will build for you.
Now, in some towns, the police won’t come to the scene for certain kinds of accidents, (usually minor accidents). If they don’t perceive the accident as a serious event, they may not dispatch a car. In those instances where the police will not come or have still not arrived after an extended amount of time, I would go to the nearest police station and make a report of the incident. That way, there is a record that, you did make a report of the accident, though not at the scene.
When the police arrive and take a report, make sure you ask for a number so that you can get the report at a later time. When you get the report, review it carefully to make sure that all facts are correct, and everything that all statements attributed to you have been correctly recorded. It’s important that you spot those things as quickly as possible and then make an attempt to have any errors in the report corrected. Many police departments will not change a report once it’s been filed, but it’s important at least that you make the effort. That way, if an issue develops later in the case, no one can accuse you of a late change of story. You can respond, “I did make an effort to correct that error in the report as soon as I discovered it, but the police would change the report, or add an addendum.”
Now, if you’ve come to me to represent you and indicate that there is an incorrect statement or reference in the report, I will send a letter to the department so that a written record that you’re contesting some fact in the report.
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