Six Things Smart People Do After an Accident

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1 1 Six Things Smart People Do After an Accident Zachariah B. Parry PICKARD PARRY PFAU AUTO ACCIDENTS

2 Copyright 2015 by Pickard Parry Pfau. All rights reserved. The information contained in this book is for general information on matters of interest only. It should not be construed as legal advice nor the formation of an attorney-client relationship. The application and impact of laws can vary widely based on the specific facts involved. The information herein is provided with the understanding that the authors and publishers are not rendering legal, tax, or other professional advice and services. It should not be used as a substitute of consulting with an attorney or other professional adviser. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult with an attorney, who can provide competent advice only after reviewing the facts specific to your case. Although we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this post has been obtained from reliable sources, we are not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. All information in this post is provided without any guarantee of completeness, accuracy, timeliness, and without warranty of any kind, express or implied. In no event will we, or our related partnerships or corporations, or the partners, agents or employees thereof be liable to you or anyone else for any decision made or action taken in reliance on the information in this book or for any consequential, special or similar damages, even if advised of the possibility of such damages. Certain links in this book connect to other websites maintained by third parties over whom we have no control. We make no representations as to the accuracy or any other aspect of information contained in other websites. P3 Press South Eastern Avenue, Suite 140 Henderson, Nevada Prepared in the United States of America First Edition /

3 Automobile Accidents 1 Every year there are over 50,000 automobile accidents in Nevada. About 27,000 people are injured in these accidents an average of 74 every day. In 2012, 1,099 people suffered serious injuries from traffic-related accidents, and in 2013, 262 people lost their lives. Although accident-related injuries have decreased in the last decade, each year there are still tens of thousands of accidents and injuries occurring to real people with real lives. As autoaccident attorneys, we work to make sure you 2,011 get the treatment and compensation you need. We strive to hold people responsible for their negligence, hoping that as a result, there will be even fewer injury accidents in Nevada. If you are injured in a car accident, your job is to get competent medical treatment and do what you can to recuperate. It is our job to work with the insurance company, its counsel, and the courts, if necessary, to make sure you are fully and fairly reimbursed for your losses. Serious Traffic Injuries in Nevada ,595 1,328 1, AUTO ACCIDENTS

4 6 2 You Can Be Seriously Injured in a Car Accident and Not Even Know It. Unlike broken bones, which are almost always noticed immediately, if you ve sustained soft-tissue injuries (injuries to muscles, ligaments, and tendons), chances are the symptoms will not manifest until hours, or even days after your accident. And soft-tissue injuries can take much longer to heal than a broken bone. 5mph Impacts with a change in velocity of as little as five miles per hour can cause significant neck injuries. PICKARD PARRY PFAU years Based on data collected nationally, the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that on average, a typical driver has one accident every six years. Victims of a motor vehicle accident can be subjected to physical forces similar to, and often exceeding, those of a professional boxer. Unlike a boxer, you do not get into your car expecting to be hit, so if you are struck and injured, you want to have an attorney in your corner willing to take the gloves off if necessary.

5 3 As often as we find ourselves in our cars, an accident at some point in our lives is almost inevitable. And although most car accidents result in only minor or no injuries, sometimes we are not so fortunate. It is in those circumstances that having an attorney on your side can be invaluable. Your attorney is not likely to be with you when misfortune strikes, so follow our advice and do the same six things smart people do after they ve been in an accident. AUTO ACCIDENTS

6 4 1. Ensure Safety The first thing you should do at any accident scene, even if you were not involved in the accident, is make sure everyone is safe. If anyone is injured, immediately dial (or if you are unable to call, give specific directions to a particular person) and ask for an ambulance. If you feel comfortable doing so, render first aid to those who might need it. (Nevada has a Good Samaritan law, NRS , that protects those who render voluntary aid as long as they are not grossly negligent in doing so. There is no legal requirement that you render assistance, however.) If you believe anyone involved in the accident is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, relay that information to the dispatcher on the phone and to the police when they arrive. Always call the police, regardless of whether you believe there are injuries. Although the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department will not respond to all accidents, other police departments are still responding, and it always helps to have third-party officials presiding over the scene. If they arrive, they ll also prepare a report, which is valuable when dealing with insurance companies. DISABILITY 10% Ten percent of all victims of a motor vehicle accident become disabled. LONG-TERM SYMPTOMS 75% Seventy-five percent of those injured in a car accident remain symptomatic after six months. PICKARD PARRY PFAU

7 5 AUTO ACCIDENTS

8 6 2. Gather Information Before any insurance company have pen and paper, enter the notes in will pay on a claim even if NRS your phone. Many phones also have its insured is at fault it a voice memo feature that you can makes a special will first perform an investigation allowance for use to make a recorded statement. the admissibility to determine whether it agrees of notes written with the claimant (you) regarding shortly after an Describe the weather and lighting. accident. fault. The more information you Detail the damage can provide, the sooner the insurance company will admit liability (i.e. acknowledge that there is insurance coverage). It is not So what kind of information unusual for should you be gathering? drivers to admit fault at the scene then change their Get as much contact minds and deny culpability information as you can later. about the other people involved in the accident. Get full names, addresses, and phone numbers of drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and any witnesses. Take notes about the accident. If you don t (if any) to all of the Any statements vehicles involved. Make a made by the note of any damage you other driver are not hearsay and were aware of prior to the can generally be accident itself (e.g., a broken used at trial. tail light). Indicate whether any of the vehicles are company owned. Get license plates, makes, models, and colors of the other vehicles. Get insurance information and the contact information of the registered owners of the vehicles. If someone admits fault, write it down. If police respond to the scene, get their names and badge numbers. PICKARD PARRY PFAU

9 Is It Legal to Record a Conversation at the Scene of an Accident? 7 Nevada has strict laws about recording the conversations of others. In fact, Nevada criminalizes the recording of certain conversations with potential imprisonment between one and four years and a fine of up to $5,000. There are also harsh civil remedies available to those whose conversations have been unlawfully recorded. The laws are stricter for the interception of wire communications, like telephone calls, which require consent of all parties (with certain exceptions) for the recording to be legal. However, if it is an in-person conversation, only consent of one party is needed. Additionally, as a general rule, there is no expectation of privacy outside in public, so even without consent, a recording should be both legal and admissible evidence in court for conversations recorded at the scene of an accident. You can record an in-person conversation in Nevada if 1. It takes place where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy, or 2. At least one party to the conversation (including yourself) consents. AUTO ACCIDENTS

10 8 3. Protect Evidence Because cameras are a built-in feature of See first to your and most phones, chances others wellbeing are, you never leave home and safety before you worry about without a way to capture documenting a images and video. If you are scene. in a car accident, assuming you see first to your injuries, you should do everything you can to document the scene of the accident. The easiest and most reliable way to do that is by photographing the scene. As you can imagine, photographing the damage to the vehicles is important. These images will convey not only the severity of the impact, but can also aid an accident reconstructionist in forming an opinion as to how the accident occurred, which is often necessary to prove liability particularly if the other party is lying about what happened. Photos can be used as evidence at trial if a witness testifies that they are fair and accurate depictions. Less obvious is the need to photograph the scene around the accident. Skid marks, street signs, mile markers, and traffic and weather conditions can all be captured on camera by photographing the area around the accident. You can also photograph the other driver, their passengers, and other witnesses. Photograph their license plate. These photos can help aid in identifying the involved parties (sometimes they provide false Photos, like audio information and are hard to find) and provide some evidence of the extent of their injuries, if any. recordings, can be captured in public where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy. Finally, if you can, photograph yourself, including your injuries. PICKARD PARRY PFAU

11 Safeguard the Integrity of Your Photographs 9 By some estimates, there will be over 800 billion digital photographs taken in 2014 alone. In most cases, the integrity of a photograph is not in dispute. However, photo-editing software is becoming more robust, more accessible, and easier to use. As courts become more wary of the authenticity of digital photographs, there are some things you can do to make sure your photographs are more trusted than the opposing party. Pickard Parry Pfau has partnered with Snapshot DNA, a smartphone app designed by professionals in law enforcement. The app verifies the authenticity of digital photographs by storing a copy of the photograph on a secure central server. At or before trial, the photographs being proffered as exhibits are analyzed by the Snapshot DNA server, and either their authenticity is confirmed or they are revealed as counterfeits. AUTO AUTO ACCIDENTS ACCIDENTS

12 Consider Insurance Regardless of who was at fault, and after seeing to any injuries, contact your own insurance company as soon as possible to report the accident. Many insurance companies have policy requirements related to how quickly after an accident you must contact them, and failure to do so might mean your claim (if you have one) will be rejected. And even if you were not at fault, you may Your insurer need to make a claim against can t raise your your own insurance. rates if you make a claim against your own policy If the other driver was at and were not at fault. fault, their insurance will be responsible to compensate you for your loss, but only up to the limits of the policy. If there is not enough insurance to cover the loss, the driver becomes personally responsible for those losses, though as a practical matter, such collections efforts are often prohibitively expensive because the atfault driver who purchases minimum coverage likely does not have deep pockets. However, you should not Nevada make any statements law requires or answer any a minimum of questions from $15,000 in bodily injury per person the other driver s and $10,000 insurance company in property damage. until you have consulted an attorney. As friendly as they might be, they do not have your best interests in mind. Be polite, but decline to discuss any aspects of the accident until you have obtained legal advice. In fact, that is one of the benefits of having an attorney you do not have to deal with claims adjusters or try to wade your Although way through a world not required in Nevada, you you don t understand should purchase and probably don t uninsured motorist coverage and particularly want to be personal injury involved in. protection. PICKARD PARRY PFAU

13 Pre-Accident Insurance Considerations 11 Insurance companies are about their own bottom line, and if they can reject your claim, or minimize their payout to you, they will. Unfortunately, Nevada s minimum policy requirements are too low, so it is not uncommon for the policy limits of the at-fault driver to be insufficient to cover the damages caused by an accident. For that reason, you should purchase uninsuredand underinsured-motorist coverage (UM/UIM). UM/UIM coverage supplements the at-fault driver s insurance if it is inadequate to pay for all the damages. Personal injury protection (PIP) may also be worth considering. PIP covers losses regardless of fault, which is useful to cover your own losses if you cause an accident. AUTO ACCIDENTS

14 12 5. Get Treated The first thing you should do if you your injuries consist of sprains, strains, are injured in an accident is get In the and other soft-tissue injuries, you United States, medical attention. However, probably will not feel the effects someone is sometimes you may not realize injured in a motor of the accident until a day or two you are injured after an accident. vehicle accident later. every 14 In those cases, you will still want seconds. to exercise caution and get yourself checked out. The at-fault The delay in the manifestation of the injuries does not make them any In 2012, the average driver s insurance will cover your doctor s visit even if it more serious. To assume that you are fine or that your body will heal itself because your neck claim for bodily turns out you are not injured. or back did not start hurting until the morning injury against auto insurance was after the accident would be folly. $14,653. Do not ever assume you are not injured, even if you are not aware of any injuries. If asked at the Soft-tissue injuries can take months even years to heal even if treated. scene of the accident if you are okay, you likely Unfortunately, some If do not know and should not assume or state injuries will not ever a lawyer otherwise. You could be in shock, you could have heal completely. The is involved in the case, many the pain-numbing and injury-masking effects of chances of making doctors will agree adrenaline rushing through your brain, or your anything less than a not to get paid until the case injuries may not have manifested yet. full recovery increase settles. the longer you wait to be In fact, in many accidents, particularly where treated. PICKARD PARRY PFAU

15 Pickard Parry Pfau Will Handle Payment to the Medical Treatment Providers 13 The lawyers at Pickard Parry Pfau have a network of trusted treatment providers who will treat injuries sustained from a motor vehicle accident on a lien. That means the doctor does not bill you, and you do not come out of pocket for the medical treatment not even for a copay. Instead, we reach an agreement with the doctors that they will get paid from the proceeds of settlement. You don t have to worry about whether the doctor is in network or out of network, how much your insurance will cover, or how you ll be able to affort to pay the medical bills. We take care of the billing so you can focus on getting better. AUTO ACCIDENTS

16 Get Legal Help Insurance companies handle car accident claims every day. They know how to take advantage of car accident victims, who not only are vulnerable because they have recently been injured, but also because they likely have not been through the post-accident claims process many times before, if ever. People who hire Attorneys work closely with trusted doctors and can take the stress out of selecting and paying a an attorney are compensated, on average, 3.5 times more than those without an chiropractor, neurologist, attorney. pain-management physician, orthopedic surgeon, psychologist, etc.; and In addition to leveling the playing field (if not giving you an advantage), having an attorney provides several benefits: If an insurance company denies liability, attorneys can marshal evidence to compel insurance companies to pay; Insurance companies If it becomes necessary to do not want to pay out on a claim. file a complaint, attorneys are Attorneys don t give familiar with local procedural them a choice. and substantive rules and know how to prosecute a case against insurance companies; Attorneys achieve much higher insurance payouts than do unrepresented parties. Personal injury claims are not just about getting paid. They are about being made whole. That includes getting medical bills paid for, getting compensated for lost wages for time off work, lost ability to perform household services, diminished earning capacity, loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering, and any other losses. 85% of all insurance Don t go it alone. Hire payouts for car accidents Pickard Parry Pfau. are to people represented by an attorney. PICKARD PARRY PFAU

17 The Attorneys at PICKARD PARRY PFAU 15 The attorneys at Pickard Parry Pfau will know how best to pursue your injury claim. But don t take their word for it. They have been honored by awards based on nominations from their peers, ratings from their clients, and from various reputable local and national attorney reviewers. Meet them yourselves. See why their clients are calling them nothing but the best, exceptionally smart, well-spoken and sincere, thoroughly knowledgeable, and honest and honorable. Call the attorneys at Pickard Parry Pfau today AUTO ACCIDENTS

18 I worked with Zach for several years. He is without question the smartest and most capable attorney I ve worked with on either side of the table. He is also the most scrupulously ethical attorney I ve worked with. If I had to hire an attorney for myself, Zach would be the first person I d call. ~Dave Blake, Las Vegas Attorney Keith was my first and only choice. He handled my situation and case with extreme professionalism and tact. He was upfront, honest, and efficient. Great rapport and personality! Very knowledgeable in his field and great for advice!! ~Stephanie, client Matt Pfau is a trusted professional to help you and your family. You will be treated with the attention and respect you deserve. Matt always takes the time to ensure his clients fully understand their choices and aligning those with their needs. I highly recommend him and the services he offers to my clients without reservation. ~Mark C., client Keith is as exceptionally smart as he is well spoken and sincere. His intelligence is head and shoulders above the opposition. From the first phone call I had with Keith to the final post-divorce handshake he always had my back. ~Daniel, client Zach is one of the most impressive attorneys I have ever known young and dynamic, knowledgeable, and very determined. I admire his strong, straighforward personality and his honesty. ~Claudia B., client ~Lisa B., client

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