Before the Accident or Injury - What You Should Know

We hope you will read this information prior to becoming involved in or witnessing an accident. Then you will have an idea of what to expect. Because motor vehicle accidents are far more prevalent than the premises liability Go to PREMISES INJURY: INTRODUCTION, dog bites Go to DOG BITE/OTHER ANIMAL BITE INJURY: INTRODUCTION or any other type of injuries, these materials most often talk about injuries suffered through auto accidents. Still, this is important information in the event of any type of accident or injury, including those on someone else's property or a dog bite.
Read this section before any accident, and carry the free SettlementCentral.Com Accident Information Form Go to ACCIDENT INFORMATION FORM in all your vehicles. Look the form over from time to time so it will become second nature in a time of stress to grab the form and use it.
The very first thing to remember is never apologize at the scene of an accident. Yes, it goes against the grain of everything you know about good manners but, after an accident, you are in a game with new rules Go to RULES OF THE GAME and you must protect your interests. So, say it out loud. "I will never apologize at the scene of an accident." Say it again as often as necessary. Then get on with the immediate issues of the accident scene:

  • Does anyone need First Aid at the scene? Go to FIRST AID AT THE SCENE
  • Have the police been called, if they are necessary? >229 unused
  • Have the paramedics been called, if necessary? >230 unused
  • Are there witnesses? Go to WITNESSES

In addition, observe everything you can about the situation. Who is present? What is the environment like? The weather, if outdoors? The distractions, if any? As soon as possible, take notes. You might be surprised how much that you know you'll remember forever will disappear from your memory before the end of a busy day.
While taking care of the immediate issues, be as quiet as possible, remember never to apologize. The rush of adrenalin interferes with - rather than enhances - our ability to think calmly and clearly. In addition, most of us seem to want to apologize for even being involved in an accident, to make little of it, and to get ourselves and others back on our way. We are embarrassed. These natural tendencies must be noted in advance and stifled. Everyone associated with SettlementCentral.Com has either been involved in an accident or has made a living working with people who have been involved in all kinds of accidents. We know these emotions often work against your best interests.
Many times people apologize, even when they did not cause the accident. Injured people will apologize. They slip and fall Go to SLIP-AND-FALL INJURY: INTRODUCTION in a store, and they apologize. They hit someone who turned left in front of them, and they apologize. Their vehicle is rear-ended, and they apologize! Not apologizing doesn't mean not expressing empathy. The difference is important, however.
An insurance adjuster can (and will) turn an apology into an admission of fault. Instead of apologizing, say something like "I hope you aren't in too much pain. What can I do to make you comfortable?"
The key is to remain silent about the cause of the accident.
Do not engage in idle chatter with anyone at the scene because everything you say can (and likely will) be used against you. Using your Accident Information Form Go to ACCIDENT INFORMATION FORM as a guide, gather as much information as possible from any other party (or parties) and witnesses. If the other party apologizes to you in front of a witness, write down what was said and who besides you heard him say it. Let your silence make others feel the need to fill the void with talk. Sooner or later, another party may express regret he did not see something or did not do something sooner.
Continue to:

  • Do Not Make Little of Your Injuries Go to DO NOT MAKE LITTLE OF YOUR INJURIES
  • Report Every Contact Made by Your Body (Even If No Apparent Injury) Go to REPORT EVERY CONTACT MADE BY YOUR BODY (EVEN IF NO APPARENT INJURY)
  • The Value of Photographs Go to PHOTOGRAPHS AT THE SCENE