If someone sustained injuries in a car accident, a fall on your property, or another mishap that they say was your fault, you need to know how to defend yourself against a claim for damages. The first thing that you must do is obtain legal advice and representation from a Bend personal injury attorney.
A personal injury claim made against you is a serious matter that you must not ignore. The other party could win by default and obtain a judgment for monetary damages against you. So, here are a few tips for defending against a claim for damages after an accident.
Notify your insurance company
The insurance policies that you purchase for your car, motorcycle, home, or boat do more than pay for damage to what they insure. These policies also contain liability coverage, which pays for claims made against you by other parties for damages incurred in accidents that you cause. Your insurance company will pay the legal fees for an attorney to defend you in any lawsuit filed by another party.
Liability insurance policies usually contain language requiring that you give notice to the insurance company of an accident or claim within the time specified in the policy. Failure to comply with this notice requirement may allow the insurance company to refuse to provide a defense or pay the claim.
Do not admit fault
Even something as innocent as saying, “I’m sorry,” after an accident may be used as evidence to prove that the accident was your fault. If you are involved in an accident, do not make statements about what happened to anyone other than the police. Statements that you make should be limited to the facts as you know them. Do not speculate or make assumptions.
Preserve the scene
Personal injury claims can arise through various circumstances and situations, including:
- Car accidents and other types of motor vehicle collisions.
- Pedestrian accidents.
- Slip-and-fall accidents.
- Defective consumer products.
- Assault and other intentional conduct.
- Workplace injuries.
- Wrongful death.
Regardless of the cause of an accident, you need to document the accident scene and preserve evidence, which your attorney will need in order to defend you from claims by other parties and to pursue your own claim for injuries that you sustained in the accident. Common methods for documenting what occurred and preserving evidence include the following:
- Use the camera on a smartphone to take photos and videos of the location of the accident, including the position of vehicles or other objects, such as a defective machine or another type of product.
- Take photos and videos of skid marks, debris, burn marks, and other physical evidence that may be moved or disturbed by weather or other factors after the accident.
- Obtain the names and contact information for all parties involved in the accident and any other people who happened to be in the area and may have seen or heard something that could be useful to defend you from or pursue a claim.
- Make note of any security or traffic cameras in the general vicinity that may have captured video of the accident.
- If police, fire, or emergency medical personnel respond to the scene of the accident, note their department or agency names so your attorney can contact them for copies of the reports that each agency must prepare about the incident.
Researchers studying how the human brain works when a person faces a traumatic event, such as a car crash, have concluded that what participants recall may not be particularly reliable. The human brain focuses on finding ways to protect you during an accident rather than on collecting and storing memories of what happened. The photos and other information that you gather immediately after an accident give your attorney and investigators working on your behalf something concrete to use in order to determine the cause of an accident and the party or parties at fault.
Rely on the knowledge and skills of your personal injury attorney
Someone making a claim against you for personal injuries does not necessarily mean an accident was your fault. Anyone can file a personal injury claim after an accident, but any reward requires evidence to prove who was at fault in causing it to occur.
When you retain the services of a Bend, Oregon, personal injury attorney, you will have someone on your side to look out for your interests, which may include pursuing a claim for damages on your behalf. Rely on your attorney to determine what rights you have following an accident and the best action to take to protect them.