An “accident” is any life-altering, life-interrupting event that causes bodily injury or property damages arising out to the ownership, maintenance or use of an automobile. Insurance companies use definition and the legislature and courts have adopted it. But it is misleading. It pre-supposes that it happened without any fault: no one either caused or contributed to it. We do not represent individuals who were in accidents; we represent people-people like you-who were harmed in motor vehicle collisions.
Motor vehicle collisions are a reality of every day life. According the Executive of Public Safety and Security, on average, there are approximately 110,000 reported motor vehicle collisions within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts each year. That means one in fifty drivers in the Commonwealth will be in a collision each year. Yet not every driver knows what to do when following impact.
Here are five tips that can help protect your rights should you ever have need to assert them.
- Remain Calm – many people do not see the other vehicle prior to impact. This is extremely common in rear-end or side-impact (“T-bone”) collisions. It’s natural to experience “shock.” But there may be injuries, the scene may not be safe, and it is important here to gather information. For the benefit of all parties and posterity, remain calm.
- Exchange information with other drivers, occupants and witnesses, do not admit to or discuss fault. – Other than safety reasons, not admitting to fault is important because it’s too early. There maybe many reasons why two vehicles end up colliding and not all of them will be apparent in the moment. You may not know or realize that some “thing” or some other person caused or contributed to the collision. Without all the information, admitting to fault on the side of the road will ultimately hurt you and limit your options. Instead, you should use this time to take photographs with your phone or camera of the vehicles, the respective damage, the license plates, driver’s licenses, registrations, proofs of insurance, and the area of the collision.
- Contact the police – whether you feel it is necessary or not, contact the police. The police will help exchange information, maintain the peace, in cases where damage to the vehicles appears to exceed $1,000.00, the police ordinarily write a report, which will be incredibly significant later on. By law, you will also need to fill out an Operators Crash Report to report, in your words, how the collision occurred. The statements made in the report will be binding upon you since you will sign it as you would any affidavit. Care must be taken to ensure its accuracy. Before filling out the Operators Crash Report and submitting it to the Registry of Motor Vehicles, consult a personal injury attorney to properly advise you.
- Do not refuse medical treatment at the scene if offered, or if not offered, go immediately to the emergency room to get checked out. – Many injuries common to motor vehicle collisions are not immediately apparent. Instead, the injuries and symptoms appear hours, even days later, after the shock subsides. Yet while you may report, or initially feel, that you are “fine” or “not hurt” to police, witnesses or the other drivers, you may later experience debilitating and/or radiating pain requiring medical treatment even lost time from work. Insurance Companies will use your statements at the collision scene against you in order to paint you as a liar or exaggerating. You can protect yourself by getting checked out by emergency first responders AND at the Emergency Room, making sure to tell your medical providers that you were in a motor vehicle collision to aid them in diagnosing any actual or potential injuries or conditions. You should listen to what the Doctors, Nurses and medical staff tells you and follow their recommendations.
- Call a lawyer who regularly handles motor vehicle collision injury cases – Most people are not looking to make claims or file lawsuits. You just want to get back on your feet, get back to work, and get on with your life. It is important to recognize that collisions are life altering and life interrupting and disrupt lives in subtle and significant ways. Assessing and evaluating that disruption is essential to ensure that your rights to relief are preserved.
The Attorneys at LALLIER | MUNROE, P.C. are experienced at representing individuals injured and harmed in motor vehicle collisions. If you have been in a motor vehicle collision, you need to know your rights and what options are available to you. Contact us today at (978) 388-1100 to schedule a free consultation. We are here. We can help.