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I was in a car accident.  Now what?

If you have been injured in a car accident, you may feel a number of different emotions and have many immediate questions.  However, the actions you take in the first few minutes after the accident could determine whether or not you are able to recover any money for your injuries.

Most likely, the police will eventually get to the accident scene.  It is extremely important that you give a very detailed version of the accident to the police.  After you tell the officer your version of the accident, ask him or her to repeat what you told them.  Many times, officers put incorrect versions on the accident and this could prove problematic to you months or years after the accident.

In this age of smart phones, try and take photographs of the accident scene and any and all vehicles involved in the accident.  Also, try and obtain names and phone numbers of any witnesses to the accident.

If you are able to write, try and write a brief descripton of the weather, road conditions and the traffic conditions at the time of your accident.  You will be asked these questions at a later time by your insurance company and any insurance companies representing the other drivers involved in the accident.

The first 15 minutes following your accident are critical.  Try and record all the events surronding your accident at that time.  it will greatly enhance your chances of recovery at a future time.

I have tripped and fallen an hurt myself.  Now what?

Unlike car accidents, trip and fall accidents present significant challenges in trying to recover for your injuries.  The most significant challenge in a trip and fall case is actually proving that the incident ocurred!

In a car accident, usually the police prepare a report, so there is immediate documentation of an incident.  However, too many times, people hurt in a trip and fall case do not have any written documentation regarding their incident.  This presents many challenges.

If you fall in a commercial establishment, it is usually easier to get a written record of your incident.  You should insist that an employee of the establishment make a written record of your accident.  Be sure to specifiy as best you can what caused you to fall.  If some good samaritan helps you, try and get that person's name and phone number so you can contact them in the future.  They become important witnesses.

If the incident occurs on a sidewalk, it is critical that you try and see what caused you to fall.  In a trip and fall case, the burden is on the injured party to specify exactly the location and condition that caused the accident.  If you are unable to do so, it can cause you not to recover any compensation, even if you are seriously injured.

If an ambulance comes to the accident scene, give them a very detailed description of where you fell and what caused you to fall.  The same rule applies to your discussions with any medical professionals you see in regards to your accident.  Many cases are won and lost because a medical record shows an accident location or cause of accident to be different than what the injured person states.  It is critical that you make sure that the medical professionals accurately detail your accident description.


Goldstein & Handwerker, LLP, is committed to answering your questions about Personal Injury, Criminal Defense, and DUI/DWI law issues in New York and New Jersey.

We’ll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.