Recovery Victims’ Rights
Victims’ Rights After an Accident
If you’ve been hurt in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence in Hawaii, it is important to know that you have rights. You are entitled to seek full and fair compensation for your injuries, damage to your personal property, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and other losses.
After an injury accident, it is not uncommon for the other party to deny responsibility and for the insurance companies to question the validity of your claim. All of this can be stressful, especially while you are still recovering from your injuries.
An experienced attorney like Glenn Honda and the team at Recovery Law Center could help you understand your rights and legal options after an accident. Contact us to discuss the specifics of your case and read on to learn more about your rights if you’ve been injured due to someone else’s actions or inaction.
How to Protect Your Rights
When you are involved in an accident that causes injuries, there are steps you should take to protect your rights. They include:
(1) Seek Medical Attention
After an accident, it is critical to seek medical attention. With the adrenaline rush associated with an accident, it may feel at first as though you do not need treatment. However, injuries can escalate and become dangerous — even life-threatening — if left untreated. It may seem as though you could recover from your injury by resting at home, but it is always best to have a medical professional evaluate you sooner rather than later. Symptoms of some serious injuries may not appear right away, but a doctor could identify them and begin treatment. Some injuries, such as concussions, could become very dangerous if left untreated.
(2) Report the Accident
You should never assume that someone else has called the police. It is always best to do it yourself. While you wait for the police, write down the vehicle’s make, model, and license plate number to protect yourself from a hit-and-run situation.
Politely decline any requests from the other driver or drivers to take care of your accident without involving the police or insurance. This rarely goes well, and you lose a significant amount of recourse when you try to go this route. If the other driver gives you incorrect contact information, you will lose all ability to pursue compensation for your accident. A police report will record the other driver’s information directly from their driver’s license and insurance card. While this may seem overly paranoid, at-fault drivers give incorrect contact information frequently to try and evade the law. Protect yourself by taking the necessary steps to get legitimate contact information.
Some accidents occur where there is no cell phone service and no other way to contact the police. While this may not happen in Honolulu, there are places on Oahu were this could occur. In this circumstance, be sure to record the driver’s contact information directly from their license, take as many photos of the scene as possible, and visit the nearest police station and file a police report in person.
(3) Keep Your Opinions to Yourself
Anything you say at the scene of an accident could be used in a future lawsuit. Remember this and limit your interactions with the other driver or bystanders to necessary information only. Keeping quiet will prevent you from saying anything that could later be used to claim that you admitted fault for the accident. Otherwise, your words could be taken out of context or twisted easily. For example, if you say that you are sorry this happened, that could be twisted around and appear that you apologized for the entire accident. It is always easier to say less rather than to have to explain the context of potentially troublesome statements later.
Keeping your comments to yourself also goes for social media. Social media is the public domain, and it is never the place to discuss an accident. You never want a casual social media comment to be used against you in court, so don’t give anyone the option.
(4) Get Information from the Responsible Driver
If you have contacted the police, and they are completing a police report, the other driver’s information should be listed. However, if you find yourself in a situation without cell service or easy access to law enforcement, you should record the other driver’s information directly from their driver’s license and insurance card. Use your camera to take a picture of this information. Do not accept anything less, such as a business card or handwritten information from them. Make sure that you can reach the other driver so that they cannot evade their responsibility.
(5) Get Contact Information from Witnesses
Whenever possible, it is helpful to talk to accident witnesses. You should ask for their names and contact information so that you or your attorney can get in touch with them in the future. Witness accounts are generally viewed as unbiased and can be a big help in settlement negotiations or in a court case. Collect as many witness names and contact information as you can since you may not be able to reach them all later.
(6) Take Photos of the Accident Scene
Even if a police officer is taking photos of the scene, you should take pictures too. At the Recovery Law Center, we have encountered situations where the police report photos were lost or unusable. Having your own photos can avoid this problem, as well as providing you and your attorney with easily accessible evidence for your claim. The main rule of thumb is that you can never take too many photos. You should take photos both close up and far away so that there is context to what you are showing with the pictures.
(7) Get Repair Estimates
Get a repair estimate for your vehicle and other personal property that was damaged in the accident so that it can help put a value on the property damage portion of your claim. Select a shop that you trust to do the work, and make sure to get your estimate in writing so that you can send a copy to the insurance company.
(8) Call the Recovery Law Center to Have Your Case Handled by an Experienced Attorney
In the aftermath of an accident, you may feel that you need additional support. At the Recovery Law Center, we are here to help you with every step of your claim, whether it is simply an insurance settlement or a more complicated legal proceeding. We are professional and understanding, and we offer you experienced legal assistance here in Honolulu.
(9) Be Patient
Be patient with any accident claim, as results rarely happen as quickly as you’d like. However, do take action, ask questions, and make sure everything is on the right track.