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Three Crucial Personal Injury “Insights”

Post contributed by Dan Baldyga.

      Three of the most crucial motor vehicle accident, personal injury, insurance claim areas one must consider are: Photographs, Newspaper and/or Police Reports and also Medical Bills, Examinations Plus Medical Reports. Let’s examine all 3.
     PHOTOGRAPHS OF INJURIES: If your accident caused bodily injuries that are visible (such as bruises, cuts, swellings, lacerations, dislocations, black and blue marks) it’s crucial, to the ultimate settlement value of your case, that you have photographs taken of those marks that have been made on the surface of your body just as soon as possible! Take them from about 3 feet away and also as close as you can so as to capture the seriousness of their existence.
     PHOTOGRAPHS OF BOTH VEHICLES: You should take photographs of the damages of your own vehicle from several different angles. If at all possible find the car that hit you and take photographs of that damage also. When it comes to proving the impact your body was subjected to (and in many cases to prove who was at fault) those photographs could be worth their weight in gold.
     PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE ACCIDENT SCENE AND SKID MARKS: The pictures of each accident scene should be taken from at least three different angles: Snap a “General View” of the area from about 20 to 40 feet away; more “Medium Range” shot’s from 10 to 15 feet away, and “Close-Up” shot’s from 3 to 5 feet away. Because they’re such potent evidence you should blow up photographs of the skid marks, taken from 3 to 6 feet away, into 8X10 glossies. (A total of 12 to 15 photos of the accident scene and/or the skid marks left on the highway are not too many).
     It cannot be emphasized enough that photographs of skid marks are invaluable evidence since they may often indicate the speed of the car at the time of the impact and very often a tremendous asset when it comes to establishing fault. When you hand copies of the 8X10 glossy photograph’s of those skid marks to the adjuster, to help justify the payment he’ll eventually make to you, you’ve absolutely deposited money into your bank account!
      A WORD OF CAUTION: The person engaged in the task of snapping photograph’s of an accident scene, or skid marks, should be careful to make sure they’re not undertaking it with a casual, hasty or careless attitude – – one that tends to leave it up to the camera to do the thinking for them. Rather, the photographer ought to carefully consider the process and enter into the undertaking very seriously. If the photos produced are to have the maximum usefulness you/they must analyze the scene and thoughtfully determine how many photos will be required and from what angles. (On all photos snapped there should always be more snapped than originally felt needed because very often some don’t come out the way one thought they would).
     ALSO: A good practice is to make a brief notation on the backs of all the photos, entering upon them a brief account of what or whom the photo is showing, the date it was taken and by whom.
     As the accident victim you should check to see if there were newspaper accounts reporting the accident. If there were clip out the relevant articles (or even the mere mention of the accident) and save it. The area’s local newspapers should also be checked for the possibility they may have published a synopsis of the weather on the day of the accident. Upon clipping out such an item a notation should be made indicating the name of the newspaper, plus the date and page, etc.
     Review these article’s closely because a photograph may be available via those newspaper articles. If so, go to the newspaper office (or make a telephone call to them) and order an 8X10 glossy print of the photo from the article’s reporter or photographer. It’s even possible you may discover that a newspaper or television photographer has a photo that had been taken but wasn’t used in the article – – one which is available for a nominal charge.
     There are two other “by-products” for which such photographs can additionally be useful to you in your claims settlement undertaking. One is the possibility that, upon closely studying the photo, you may discover a witness. Or another, you might observe the registration numbers of vehicles in the impact area but weren’t involved in the accident. From such a piece of information you may be able to get the police, or the motor vehicle department, to give you the names and addresses of the parties to whom the registration number belongs and that could present you with the possibility of locating a critical witness to your case.
     OBTAINING THE POLICE REPORT – IF THERE IS ONE: It’s always a good idea to call the police when there’s an accident. It’s to your advantage to do so and to have a police report on file. In most states the police are required, by law, to be promptly notified whenever an accident occurs, especially when there’s an injury or the damages to one of the vehicles exceeds some fixed amount, say for example $250, or $300.
     Several days after the police execute the report it will usually be available to the public at the police department. You should secure a copy of the report by requesting one for a nominal charge. If the accident took place on a state highway apply for the report from the state Highway Patrol’s office. If the accident occurred anywhere else, apply for the report from the City, County, or Sheriff’s Police Department that investigated the accident.
     Upon obtaining a copy of the report scan it for a witness the police may have included. It’s possible you may discover that the police have taken photographs. They’re often more than willing to sell them.
     You may find (especially in severe accidents involving, say for example, drunkenness) that there’s in existence some special reports and/or highly detailed diagrams on the accident. You can inquire with the investigating officers who prepared the report (their names are usually listed somewhere on the report) as to whether there was any professional photographers they may have seen or observed at the scene, thereby providing you with yet another source for potentially helpful photographs or witnesses.
     It’s an indispensable necessity that you see a doctor (and as quickly as possible) after an accident. Why? Because it’s a fact of insurance claim life that your “Bodily Injuries” will have no credibility unless the times, dates and those injuries were verified by your attending physician.
     THE HIGHER THE MEDICAL BILLS THE HIGHER THE SETTLEMENT OF YOUR CLAIM: The value of a claim has a direct relationship to the amount of your medical bills. Why? Because with medical bills of say, $500.00 to $700.00, the typical bodily injury claim is worth three to five times more that a claim with bill of $100.00 or less. The adjuster will reason if you were hurt badly enough to run up $500.00 to $700.00 worth of medical expenses, than your injuries must be fairly substantial. But, if you see a doctor once or twice, and your bills are $100.00, or less, the adjuster will assume you weren’t hurt too seriously. That’s’ why you should go for medical treatment as often as possible. It’s an absolute fact of insurance claim settlement’s that the more you see your doctor the higher the medical bills will be and therefore – – the greater value of your claim !
      REQUESTING A MEDICAL REPORT: After your treatment is over you must obtain a written Medical Report from your doctor because it’s crucial to the successful settlement of your bodily injury claim. Explain to your attending physician what you would like to have the Medical Report cover: Length of total disability, length of partial disability, inability to perform certain functions, and the existence or probability of permanent or disability effects.
     The adjuster will ask you to sign a form which allows him to obtain this report from your attending physician. Don’t do that! Tell him that you’ll get it and send it to him. (Don’t let him tell you that this is not the “Normal Way” such matters are handled and/or done). You tell him it’s your body, your bills, your “Treatment”, your “Pain and Suffering” and you have every right to ask your own doctor for your own Medical Report. That way, after your doctor executes the form and hands it to you, you can examine it and make sure everything (as explained above) has been accomplished. If it hasn’t you have every right to return that report to your doctor and insist he writes it up exactly the way you want it to be executed and the way it must be stated, making sure he includes everything you now know should be in there – – and done correctly!

DISCLAIMER: The only purpose of this claim tip is to help people understand the motor vehicle accident claim process. Neither Dan Baldyga nor Automotive Trends make any guarantee of any kind whatsoever; NOR to substitute for a lawyer, an insurance adjuster, or claims consultant, or the like. Where such professional help is desired it is the INDIVIDUAL’S RESPONSIBILITY to obtain said services.

Dan Baldyga’s latest book AUTO ACCIDENT PERSONAL INJURY INSURANCE CLAIM (How To Evaluate And Settle Your Loss) can be found on the internet at his web site http://www.autoaccidentclaims.com. This book reveals “How To” successfully handle your motor vehicle accident claim, so you won’t be taken advantage of. It also goes into detail regarding the revolutionary BASE (The Baldyga Auto Accident Settlement Evaluation Formula). BASE will explain how to determine the value of the “Pain and Suffering” you endured, because of your personal injury.

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