The following is a basic list of 5 things you should do if find yourself in an accident in Pennsylvania.
1. IDENTIFY – Make sure you identify the following:
A. Who was involved in the accident?
B. Whether the other party was working for an employer at the time of the accident.
C. Which Police Department responded to the accident.
D. Contact information for any witnesses to the accident.
2. PRESERVE – Preserve information for future investigation:
A. What were the road and weather conditions at the time of the accident?
B. Take photos or video of the accident scene, as well as any injuries or damage to vehicles and property.
C. Make sure to save all papers you might receive from EMS, a hospital, or towing company.
D. If this was an industrial accident, contact information for any company or OSHA investigators is important.
3. BE CAREFUL – Be careful whom you speak with:
A. One should be very careful about who he or she agrees to speak with concerning the accident and the injuries. In many serious accident cases one or more investigations may be commenced, and it is important to know who is asking the questions.
B. There is no obligation to provide written or taped statements to investigators or the insurance company for the opposing party. You have an obligation to cooperate with your own insurance company, but it would still be advisable to consult with an attorney before providing a written or taped statement to your own insurance company, or to anyone else. You do not want words put into your mouth, or to have your meaning to be misunderstood. Words matter greatly in litigation, and you want to be sure that what you mean to say is what is actually contained in your statements.
4. FOLLOW THROUGH – Follow through on medical care:
A. It is important to obtain a thorough medical examination, a complete diagnosis, and to follow-up with the recommendations of your doctors after an accident.
B. As a plaintiff, it will be the burden of you and your attorney to prove that the injuries you are claiming are caused by or related to the accident.
C. Delays in reporting, diagnosis, and treatment of injuries will complicate the proof of the injuries caused by the accident.
D. It is important that you provide a complete and accurate medical history. Your doctor needs to be able to account for any pre-existing conditions in his assessment of what the accident did to you. The defendant is only responsible for new injuries and conditions, or the worsening of pre-existing conditions that the accident causes. Neither you nor your doctor want to be accused of linking unrelated conditions to the accident, and the best way to avoid that situation is to provide a complete and thorough medical history to your doctors.
5. TALK TO AN ATTORNEY:
A. You will need legal representation if you are involved in an accident causing serious injury.
B. You will be facing a large and experienced insurance industry, and you will need someone to deal with them and other important issues that arise in such cases.
C. The sooner you retain counsel to better to permit your attorney to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation, and to otherwise guide you through a very difficult process.