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Here’s What to Do After an Accident

Nov 4, 2019 Brown Moore & Associates

In this episode of When Accidents Happen, we join our hosts Paige Pahlke and Jim Puritz, attorneys at Brown Moore and Associates, to talk about the initial steps to take when you or someone you care about is involved in a motor vehicle collision.

When an automobile accident happens, the scene is often chaotic. Frequently, people are in pain, worried, and confused. To cut through the confusion, we’re answering questions like: What happens when you’re in a crash? What should you do at the scene of the accident? What should you expect when you call the law firm. And, what questions should you ask? We will walk through these questions and try to relieve some of the stress that happens when you’re involved in an automobile or tractor trailer accident.

Key moments from the episode:

  • [1:21] – Initial steps and recommendations following a collision
  • [2:00] – Why is it important to get medical care right away?
  • [5:00] – Initial questions from a law firm
  • [5:29] – Insurance and Medpay information
  • [6:35] – Should you talk to the other insurance company?
  • [8:18] – Initial investigation after a crash and witnesses

You can connect with Brown Moore and Associates on our website at http://www.brownmoorelaw.com. You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or YouTube.

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When Accidents Happen is a podcast by Brown Moore and Associates, a personal injury law firm based out of Charlotte, NC. This podcast is for general information purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and is not a substitute for consulting an attorney. You should always consult an experienced personal injury attorney about your unique situation before making legal decisions. Visit our website for more online resources at brownmoorelaw.com, or better yet, call 704-335-1500 for a free initial intake interview so Brown Moore and Associates can evaluate your case.

Read Full Transcript

Intro:[00:02]Chances are you’re here because of an accident involving yourself or someone you love, and before the dust even settles, you’re dealing with an insurance company that doesn’t have your best interests at heart. You may be feeling overwhelmed, you may be feeling scared. Welcome to When Accidents Happen, a podcast brought to you by the attorneys of Brown Moore and Associates. With more than five decades of experience, our attorneys are here to guide you through these uncertain times and provide you with the information and answers you need today.
Paige Pahlke:[00:38]Hey, everybody. This is Paige Pahlke.
Jim Puritz:[00:39]This is the Jim Puritz.
Paige Pahlke:[00:41]We’re lawyers at Brown Moore and Associates and the hosts of When Accidents Happen. We’re excited to kick off our podcast today with our very first episode. We hope this podcast will be a great resource and will help relieve some stress for people who’ve recently been in a collision and are trying to figure out what the next steps are. Jim, what are we going to cover today?
Jim Puritz:[01:01]Well, today we’re going to cover the initial steps. What happens when you’re in a crash? What do you do on the scene? And when you call into the law firm and you have your first questions, we can walk through that and try to relieve some of the stress that happens when you’re in a crash.
Paige Pahlke:[01:15]All right, let’s start with those initial steps. When someone’s been in a collision, what are the initial steps that they should take, or that you recommend that they take?
Jim Puritz:[01:26]Well, first we hope you’re okay. We don’t want anyone to get hurt, and with that comes call for help. Call the police, call medical services, get an ambulance, go to the ER. We want to make sure that you are taken care of, first and foremost that’s the most important thing. After that, that records become helpful for us anyway, so it both helps you right there and will help us down the road. So call the police and get medical care.
Paige Pahlke:[01:52]Why is it important if someone’s been in a collision to get that medical care right away?
Jim Puritz:[01:56]Well, first we want to make sure you’re okay, but you want to document your injuries. You want to start that documentation first day and you want to keep it going. If someone says go to the ER, they discharge you to your primary care physician, go to your primary care physician. They say you need to see a specialist or get some testing done, go do that. One, because it’ll help you, and two, it will document what happened, which will be important for you down the road.
Paige Pahlke:[02:21]Jim, what if somebody doesn’t get to treatment that first day? Does that mean that they don’t have a case?
Jim Puritz:[02:27]No, I’m pretty stubborn myself and don’t often go when I should go. That does not mean they don’t have a case. That means that they tried to tough it out or the injuries weren’t terrible, they wanted to try to get through it themselves and just couldn’t. That happens all the time. That doesn’t mean you don’t have a case, it just means you’re like everyone else and doesn’t always go to the doctor right away.
Paige Pahlke:[02:47]But when it comes to getting care, is sooner generally better?
Jim Puritz:[02:51]Yes, sooner is definitely better because you’ll want to give what they call a history of present illness, but essentially is your chief complaint, what hurts. What hurts, why it hurts, and the physician will be able to better ascertain your symptoms, your injuries, make a diagnosis. Those are all important, and it’ll be kind of a roadmap for your injuries down the road.
Paige Pahlke:[03:15]When you’re speaking with a client for the first time, what are the initial questions that they’re generally asking you, or what do they want answers to?
Jim Puritz:[03:24]They want to know do I have a case, what’s the value of my case, and when they come in, what do I need to bring. So I’ll take them in turn. “Do I have a case?” I don’t know yet. I’m going to investigate that with you. But to help me with that investigation, there are things we can do right away. We can get your police report, which is often what we like to call a crash report, sometimes an accident report. That’ll have a lot of important information. The name of everyone involved, the other driver, the insurance companies, which we’ll talk to for you on your behalf. It’ll have the officers subjective take on what happened, who may or may not be at fault, whether other driver was impaired or not, the type of vehicles that were involved, the location and time of the accident or crash. That’s all information that I’m going to need.
Jim Puritz:[04:14]The second question I often get nearly all the time is, “What’s the value of my case?” I don’t know yet. My job will be to work on that picture with you to make you whole, so that way if you’re out of lost wages, if you’re out medical bills, if there’s been damage to your car, that’s all information that I want so that we can put that picture together later. When you come in, those are the documents I want too. I want to have all the photographs of any injuries or damage to your car. I want to have any employer information so that we can ascertain any lost wages. I want to have your health insurance information so we can see if there are any liens out there, that’s a topic we’ll talk about later.
Jim Puritz:[04:56]I also want to know about any witnesses, and that’s not just witnesses to the crash, but also witnesses to how this has affected you at home. Are you unable to drive the kids to school? Can you not go to work? Can you not engage in your social life? Can you not engage in activities that you used to enjoy? Those are things that I want to know. Those are things that witnesses, essentially friends, neighbors, family members, those are things that I would like to talk to them about.
Paige Pahlke:[05:21]One thing that I don’t think we have talked about yet is the declaration page, or the insurance that your potential client has. Do you want to know about that?
Jim Puritz:[05:29]That is one of the more important documents, which I probably should have mentioned. But yes, we do want the declaration page, and the policy documents if they can get it. The declaration page is your own car insurance information. It’ll have the cost, the premiums, but also have the coverage amounts and the types of coverage, which is very important in a motor vehicle case.
Paige Pahlke:[05:51]Jim, when I’m looking at my client’s declaration page during the initial consultation, what I’m oftentimes looking for is to see whether or not they have a coverage called Med Pay, which is a no-fault coverage that they’ve paid extra for that we can tap into to help offset their medical bills, and also to see if they have under-insured motorist coverage and uninsured motorist coverage, which we’re going to talk about in different podcasts more in depth. Are those things that you’re also looking for?
Jim Puritz:[06:18]Absolutely. Med Pay is very important because it can be immediate help. We don’t have to wait for a lawsuit, we don’t have to wait to negotiate with an adjuster down the road. If you have Med Pay and you have some medical bills that need to be paid, you can get to that money much sooner and pretty quick and we can help you with that.
Paige Pahlke:[06:35]Another thing that often comes up during my initial consultations with clients, they tell me, “Hey, the other driver’s insurance company has reached out to me. What should I do?” What do you recommend when that happens?
Jim Puritz:[06:47]Don’t talk to them. They don’t represent you. In fact, their job is to limit the amount of recovery you get. They never represent you, through the entire process. That is one of the main reasons, and one of the more important reasons, to have an attorney to speak on your behalf. Because, one, if you talk to them over the phone, it will be recorded. So don’t ever give a recorded statement. Everything you say, like they say in those Law and Order shows, will be used against you. So please keep that in mind. We’ll talk to them, we’ll negotiate on your behalf so you don’t have to be put in that awkward position of explaining certain things or not explaining certain things. That’s a very important reason to have an attorney.
Paige Pahlke:[07:24]It sounds like the other insurance company, they’re not looking out for you.
Jim Puritz:[07:27]Never.
Paige Pahlke:[07:29]You’ve already kind of touched on this, but let’s go into this a little more in depth before we wrap up. Your initial investigation, what does that all entail, or what do you do?
Jim Puritz:[07:38]There’s only so much evidence available at a car crash, and you want to make sure you get it right away. I want to know all the witnesses, and this can be information on the police report, but maybe it’s not, everyone who saw what happened. I also want to drive out to the scene myself, take a look around, look for any traffic cameras or surveillance cameras, even some peoples now have sophisticated doorbells with video on them, storefront video. You also want to get a 911 call if one was made. Those are only available for a number of days, often only 30 days. There are a lot of steps you can take initially to preserve evidence that’ll help your claim down the road, and that’s what I want to get moving on right away.
Paige Pahlke:[08:18]What about speaking to witnesses that the client has identified, maybe family members, friends, people on the collision report, are you doing that during that initial phase?
Jim Puritz:[08:29]I am. I’m trying to speak to everyone. If you have witnesses, if they’re on the police report or not, or if they’re certainly just people that you know that didn’t make the police report, I would like to talk to them. I want to get all the information I can to put forward the best case for you, both in terms of how the crash happened and how you’ve been hurt.
Paige Pahlke:[08:48]Great. Jim, this has been very helpful. Thank you so much for taking the time to go over all this with us. I hope that this is a helpful roadmap for people when they’re trying to get a better handle on what the next steps are after you’ve been in a wreck.
Jim Puritz:[09:01]Thank you.
Paige Pahlke:[09:02]Thank you.
Outro:[09:04]We appreciate you joining us on this episode of When Accidents Happen. To learn more about today’s discussion or to tell us your story, visit our website at brownmoorelaw.com, that’s B-R-O-W-N-M-O-O-R-E-L-A-W.com, or call 704-335-1500.
Outro:[09:23]The insights and views presented in When Accidents Happen are for general information purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. The information presented is not a substitute for consulting with an attorney, nor does tuning into this podcast constitute an attorney-client relationship of any kind. If you’re ready for the personal attention you deserve, contact Brown Moore and Associates today.