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Legal Tips-Personal Injury

  

"Dibble’s Do’s & Don’ts Upon Personal Injury"
By Gerald W. Dibble, B.S., J.D., LL. M. (Tax)
(Version 041107a)
(PDF Copy)

These legal tips, and Do's & Don'ts, are for informational purposes only and to assist you before you contact your attorney and are not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel. These legal tips are intended to be general guidelines and an outline of issues to be discussed and explored in order to determine if they are applicable to your situation. This information is not intended to create, and use of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship or the rendering of legal advice.

Do Not Settle Your Claim Until You Have
Consulted with An Attorney 

Basic Information Pertaining to Injuries

  1. At the Accident Scene:
  1. Remain calm, and check yourself and your passengers for injuries.

  2. Call the police if you are able to do so.

  3. If it is safe to do so, do not move your vehicle from the position in which it came to rest after the accident.

  4. Exchange identification and insurance information with the other driver, but do not discuss the accident with anyone except the police. Make sure that you write down the license number and make, model and color of the other car.

  5. If the other driver is not cooperative, do not get into an argument or physical altercation.

  6. Obtain the names, addresses and telephone numbers of any witnesses to the accident.

  7. Take pictures of the accident scene if you have a camera with you and you are physically able to do so.

  8. Seek medical attention immediately if you have sustained any injuries in the accident.

  9. Call your attorney immediately. Your attorney may want to have photographs taken and may even want to require the vehicle causing the injury to be placed into storage.   
  1. The Accident Report:
  1. Obtain a copy of the police report from the accident and review the report to ensure that it is accurate.

  2. Motorists are required to file Form MV104 with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles within ten (10) business days of the date of the accident if the accident results in personal injury or in greater than $1,000 of damage to any vehicle. This form is available from your insurance company/agent, the Department of Motor Vehicles (office or website), or local police department.

    1. If you have been injured in an accident and are/will be the plaintiff in a lawsuit, it is advisable to consult with your attorney before filling out form MV104 to ensure that it is properly filled out, and that you do not inadvertently admit any liability for the accident.
  1. The Insurance Company:
  1. If you are driving your own automobile, notify your automobile insurance carrier of the accident and any injuries you have sustained immediately, both by telephone and in writing.

  2. Obtain the name of the claims adjustor handling your file, his or her mailing address and phone number, and the claim number.

  3. Request that the claims adjustor send you the forms necessary to start a “no-fault” claim, which will compensate you for your accident related medical expenses, lost wages, and other related expenses.

  4. If you are injured while a passenger in someone else's vehicle or as a pedestrian, the insurance carrier for that vehicle owner should provide your no-fault benefits. Again, provide the carrier with notice of the accident and your injuries by telephone and in writing, obtain the contact information for the adjustor handling your file and the claim number, and request that the adjustor send you the no-fault application forms.       

Additionally, if you have automobile insurance, it is advisable to also put your own automobile insurance carrier on notice of the accident and your injuries.

  1. Return the no-fault application to your insurance carrier within thirty (30) days of the accident. If this is not done, your insurance carrier will deny your application for benefits.

  2. If you have been injured as a result of a motor vehicle accident, it is advisable not to speak with the “bodily injury” (or BI) claims adjustor from the other driver's insurance company without first speaking with an attorney. You may speak with the property damage adjustor who will be compensating you for any damage to your vehicle.

  3. If you have been injured as a result of a motor vehicle accident, do not settle your claim without first speaking with an attorney. Insurance companies will often try to get you to settle your claim quickly, before you have discovered the extent of your injuries, and for less money than your claim may be worth.   
  1. Medical Treatment:
  1. If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, obtain medical treatment immediately.

  2. When being treated by any medical provider, be sure to give a complete history which documents that you were injured in a motor vehicle accident, and includes all parts of your body which hurt, are sore, or were otherwise injured, no matter how small or inconsequential you think the injury may be.

  3. Tell your treating physicians about all of your injury-related complaints at each visit.

  4. Provide the name of your insurance company, the name of the claims adjustor, and the assigned claim number to all of your accident related medical providers so that they can send your medical bills to your insurance carrier for coverage.

  5. If you should get any medical bills at your home, send them to your insurance carrier immediately so that they will be covered by your carrier. If medical bills are not submitted to the no-fault carrier within forty-five (45) days of the date of service, your no-fault carrier can deny coverage.

  6. Keep a list of all medical providers who treat you for your accident related injuries (for example, ambulance companies, hospitals, physicians, therapists, and pharmacies) so that your attorney can request your medical records and bills from each provider.

  7. It is recommended that you keep your appointments with each of your medical providers, that you follow the advice of your physicians with regard to the treatment of your accident related injuries, and that you keep your physicians fully apprised of the status of your treatment and injuries (for example, worsening injuries, an increase in pain level, the success or failure of therapy, the successful use of prescriptions, or adverse reactions to prescriptions).

  8. Do not try to be a hero. If you are in pain, seek medical help.   
  1. Contacting an Attorney:
  1. Under New York State Law, in order to sue an at-fault driver for injuries which resulted from a motor vehicle accident, you must have sustained what the law determines to be a “serious injury.”

  2. There are many ways to satisfy the “serious injury” threshold, but as a general rule, if you require medical treatment or are missing time from work as a result of a motor vehicle accident, you should call an attorney to discuss your claim.

Information Pertaining to Injuries Suffered

Other than In a Motor Vehicle Accident

  1. At the Accident Scene:
  1. Remain calm and check yourself for injuries.

  2. Record as much information as possible regarding the location of your accident (for example, the premises address, names of managers/supervisors and employees, the exact location of the accident with points of reference, a description of any defective conditions, a description of lighting conditions, and the time of day).

  3. Report your accident to a manager, supervisor or other person in charge of the premises and request that they fill out an incident report.

  4. Obtain the names, addresses and telephone numbers of any witnesses to the accident.

  5. Take pictures of the accident scene if you have a camera with you and you are physically able to do so.

  6. Seek medical attention immediately if you have sustained any injuries in the accident.

  7. Call you attorney immediately. Your attorney may want to have photographs taken and may even want to require any property causing the injury to be placed into storage, if possible.
  1. The Insurance Company:
  1. Get the name, mailing address and telephone number of the insurance liability carrier which insures the premises where you were injured.

  2. It is, generally, advisable not to provide a statement to an insurance liability carrier without first speaking with an attorney.

  3. If you have been injured as a result of an accident, do not settle your claim without first speaking with an attorney. Insurance companies will often try to get you to settle your claim quickly, before you have discovered the extent of your injuries, and for less money than your claim may be worth.
  1. Medical Treatment:
  1. If you have been injured in an accident, obtain medical treatment immediately.

  2. When being treated by any medical provider, be sure to give a complete history which documents how you were injured, and includes all parts of your body which hurt, are sore, or were otherwise injured, no matter how small or inconsequential you think the injury may be.

  3. Tell your treating physicians about all of your injury-related complaints at each visit.

  4. Provide the applicable insurance information to all of your medical providers. This could include private health insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, no-fault insurance, or “med-pay” option offered by a liability insurance carrier.

  5. Keep a list of all medical providers who treat you for your accident related injuries (for example, ambulance companies, hospitals, physicians, therapists, and pharmacies) so that your attorney can request your medical records and bills from each provider.

  6. It is recommended that you keep your appointments with each of your medical providers, that you follow the advice of your physicians with regard to the treatment of your accident related injuries, and that you keep your physicians fully apprised of the status of your treatment and injuries (for example, worsening injuries, an increase in pain level, the success or failure of therapy, the successful use of prescriptions, or adverse reactions to prescriptions).
  1. Contacting an Attorney:
  1. If you require medical treatment or are missing time from work as a result of an accident, you should call an attorney immediately to discuss your claim.

  2. Additionally, insurance carriers may refuse to provide insurance coverage to compensate you for your injuries unless they are given timely notice of your claim. Because of this, it is imperative to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after an accident so that notice of your claim may be given to the responsible party and their insurance carrier.

  3. Do not try to be a hero. If you are in pain, seek medical help.

This general advice is not a substitute for speaking directly with a lawyer, and is only intended to give some basic guidelines. If you rely upon any of these guidelines and do not contact an attorney to discuss the reason why you utilized one or more of the guidelines, you are making a mistake. This information is not intended to create, and use of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship or the rendering of legal advice.


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