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There Are Many Kinds Of Personal Injury Accidents

    Excerpt From Richard Noll’s Book, The Dirty Dozen: 12 Mistakes To Avoid In Your New York Accident Case. Mistake No. 12: Failing to document or report the accident or injury at the scene of the accident (a premises liability accident or a slip and fall accident).

    Most of the information I have written about in this newsletter has been focused on car accidents. Many of you will be fortunate enough never to be struck from behind while sitting at a red light, or crushed by a taxi cab as it races through the intersection, even though you are the one with the green light. However, your luck may not extend to preventing the possibility of walking down the sidewalk and encountering a slab of sidewalk pushed up by adjacent tree roots; or walking in the cross walk and stepping into that gaping, jagged hole right next to the manhole cover. Or, if your luck does not hold out, you could be stepping on that marble tread inside your neighbor’s apartment building only to have to the entire stair collapse underneath you, propelling you down the entire flight of stairs.

    Whatever you do, do not merely limp away!

    Do not be embarrassed, either. Too often people become embarrassed and simply want to disappear from the scene of the accident as soon as possible. Wrong move. If you are genuinely hurt, you must get the time, place and manner of your injury documented. And then, you must protect yourself against all of the same mistakes you would have to protect yourself against if you were involved in a motor vehicle accident.

    During my career, I have worked with scores of people who have never documented their accident or injury at the scene. It may not be the ultimate death knell of your case, but it makes proving your case significantly more difficult, It also makes the defense counsel’s job far easier.

    I once represented an older woman who was thrown to the floor of a city bus that was being wildly operated by the bus driver. She fell in such a way that she fractured both her tibia and fibula (the two bones of the lower leg). She was helped up by two good samaritans, and proceeded to ride the bus for two more blocks to her stop. Then, she exited the bus without saying a word to the bus driver. She never asked for the names or contact information of the gentlemen who assisted her; she never obtained the license plate number of the bus. She did not call the police from her bus top, nor did she call an ambulance to help her to the emergency room. Instead, she limped home and had her grandson drive her to the emergency room.

    So, given these circumstances, what was the defense? Answer: This accident never happened. She could have injured herself anywhere, maybe even in her own home. The defense would assert that there was no proof that the accident ever occurred when or how she claims. She is just looking for a convenient ‘pay day.’

    My client’s reaction to just leave the bus as quickly as she could is quite common. The first reaction many of us have when tripping and falling or injuring ourselves is to make it look like nothing happened. Often, we are embarrassed to fall in front of strangers. We tend to jump up, brush ourselves off, ignore the severe pain and quip, “I’m ok, I’m ok.” But, if you are not ok, you already have begun to build the hill (which is a steep enough climb as a plaintiff) you will have to battle up to successfully prosecute your claim just for compensation.

    Should you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, take a moment before you speak. Take note of your surroundings. Take note of what caused your accident. Also remember to take the names and addresses or phone numbers of witnesses. If you are not writhing in pain and able to think clearly and function, take a picture of the location. Almost all of us carry cameras these days in the form of cell phones.

    If the accident occurs inside private premises, a building, a store, a school, for example, report it to the owner or manager. Do not ignore the pain in your ankle, knee, back or other body part. It may or may not be fractured. But, even if there is no fracture, I have seen many soft tissue injuries that result in a lifetime of pain and disability. Sometimes, soft tissue injuries may require significant surgical procedures or years of medical care to correct them or make them tolerable.

    No matter where you are injured; no matter the circumstances, remember to ask for help. Let someone call the police. Let someone call you an ambulance. The police will generate a report as to where, when, and what happened. The ambulance will document where you were picked up and what your physical complaints were.

    If you are eventually injury free, if you do go to the emergency room and feel better a few hours later, terrific! Then, you will not need any of the documentation and you will not need my legal services. However, if you do not recover shortly and you need to proceed with legal action, that documentation will be regarded as important evidence.

    Report your accident. Document the location and the cause of the accident. Make sure your physical complaints and injuries are made known to emergency care professionals.

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