In Case Of An Auto or Home Accident
Gary J. Cohen
- Call 911 for immediate help for anyone who is injured and call the police.
- The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of any person "shall immediately, by the quickest means of communication, whether oral or written," notify the police department of the accident, if the accident occurred within a municipality. Otherwise, the driver should notify the state Department of Public Safety or the sheriff’s office of the county where the accident occurred. A.R.S. § 28-666.
- Do your best to secure the accident scene by using such devices as flares and hazard lights.
- Write down the names, addresses, telephone numbers and insurance information of all drivers, passengers and witnesses and a description of their vehicles, including license plate information if possible.
- Carefully examine damage to all vehicles involved. Write down notes of all injuries. If possible, record the scene both by photographs and/or video (your cell phone may have such capabilities.)
- If anyone is injured, contact your insurance company immediately.
- Discuss the accident only with the police, your attorney or insurance agent. Speak with an attorney before accepting liability for the accident. Make notes about everything you did, saw and heard in a document entitled "For My Attorney"; that will protect such notes via the attorney/client privilege.
- Report the accident to your insurance company, and immediately notify it, and your attorney, if you are sued. If you want to file a claim against the responsible parties for the collision, contact an attorney about the applicable statute of limitations to ensure that the claim is timely filed.
ACCIDENT AT A HOME OR AN ACCIDENT INVOLVING A DEFECTIVE PRODUCT:
- Keep calm. Obtain immediate medical attention.
- Call a physician or an ambulance, if necessary. Follow the doctor’s orders. Or, call the Poison Information Center at the University of Arizona (520-626-6016).
- Write down the details – who, what, where, when and possibly why. Include the names, addresses and telephone numbers of people involved. Indicate the condition of the area or room where the accident occurred ("clean" or "messy").
- Keep the product that caused the injury, even if it’s food. Do not throw it away!
- If a food product caused the injury, keep the receipt from the grocery store or restaurant. Write down the condition of the product as it appeared at the time of the accident.
- Get written statements or at least names, addresses and phone numbers from all witnesses and people who were nearby.
- Photograph or videotape the scene as quickly as possible after the accident.
- Do not talk to insurance adjusters or representatives.
- Do not sign an authorization that allows third parties to obtain your medical records.
- Do not make a statement about the medical condition of the injured person.
- Do not accept money or a check, and do not sign anything.
- Consult with your attorney.
These tips were prepared by:
Gary J. Cohen, Shareholder in Mesch Clark & Rothschild’s Litigation Department.
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