The attorneys at Casey & Devoti recently published a Step-By-Step Guide to Making a Personal Injury Claim. This is the second of ten posts in the series, which will highlight the various steps throughout the personal injury claim process. We hope you find the level of detail informative. If you would like a copy of the complete step-by-step guide, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step 2 – The Report
You are injured. Something happened, something for which you hadn’t planned. Another person chose to unsafely act and, as a result, you were injured or harmed or suffered some identifiable loss.
What’s next? What must you now do?
First, collect yourself. Reflect on what happened. Take time to put pen to paper and record your memory and recollection of the events leading to your injury.
Next, report the event that caused you injury. The report should be made to the person that irresponsibly acted. Report the event to that person’s employer and their insurer, if known. And, report the event to the proper governmental authority – such as your local police department.
The report should be made in a timely manner. Prompt reporting of the event that caused you injury is important for a couple of reasons. Prompt notice provides the responsible party the ability to timely verify the occurrence and scene before witnesses, memories and evidence fade. Prompt reporting also telegraphs the seriousness of the events and resulting injury; past experience – and perception – suggest that seriously injured victims immediately report to the proper parties the happening of the events leading to the injury – so that witnesses, statements and evidence may be collected and confirmed.
Detailed reporting of the event is also essential. Your report must include information about:
- The identity of the people and things involved in the event;
- The location of the circumstances leading up to, through and after the event; and
- The day and time that the event happened.
A report of the event must be promptly made to a governmental authority if the events occur in a public place or require an emergency medical response. Once on the scene, the police should conduct a basic investigation that will compile much of the information that will eventually be used to press your claim.
If provided the opportunity, the police will also seize essential evidence. This evidence may include the thing that caused you injury, documentation of the scene through the use of photography and satellite (GPS) measurements, and statements from witnesses.
Further, keep notes of everyone you speak with about the events leading to your injury. These notes must include:
- The identity of the person with whom you spoke;
- Their contact information (phone number, email address, mailing address);
- Their employer (whether an insurance company, investigator or police department); and
- Report number.
Always ask for a copy of any report made of the incident that caused you injury. Police departments will provide the report to you at a nominal cost. Businesses should provide the information as a courtesy to you, their injured customer and patron.
Finally, any report should include only the facts about the injury you suffered and the symptoms you experience. Never provide information about prognosis or treatment plan to the person that harmed you, her employer or an insurance company. Never guess at how long you may treat or the severity of your injury.
When in doubt, immediately seek legal counsel. An experienced personal injury lawyer will lead you through the reporting process and answer any questions you have.
Next Up: Step #3 – Caring for yourself