5 Things to Do When You Are In an Accident – Interview September 2016

Katherine:

Hello everyone. Thank you so much for joining us today on “This Needs to Be Said.” We’re going to be talking with personal injury attorney Eric Blank. He’s going to talk with us about five things to do when you’re in an accident. You know what? Every time I’ve ever been in an accident, I didn’t know what to do. I panicked. Even though I had insurance to cover the car, or whatever, I just didn’t know the first thing to do. Today is going to help me and you, the audience, to clear up just some things to do. He’s going to share with you how to get a copy, he’s made a pamphlet that you can download, and so you can have this with you and stick it in your glove compartment with everything else. That’s where I stuff – stuff anyway. Eric, I want to say thank you for your time, and welcome to “This Needs to Be Said.” How are you today?

Eric:

Great, Katherine. Thanks for having me on, and I look forward to talking with you and your listeners here and giving them some information what to do when they are in a car accident

Katherine:

Awesome. About a year ago, I think it was a year ago, I got into accident myself and I promise you, I was so terrified. This guy gave me such a difficult time and it really was a simple, I tapped him, I was wrong, just need to pay him. He wanted to draw it out and I am telling you I got confused. What am I supposed to do first? Do I call the insurance company first? Do I call the police department first? Do I call myself? Who do I call first? Who do I call first, all right? So I was just…

Eric:

Absolutely.

Katherine:

…completely floored. I didn’t know what to do, so I panicked. I ended up calling the police so they could come and the insurance company. I didn’t know the proper thing to do or if there’s a kit, until having this opportunity to interview with you. So, I am going to turn it over to you and I want you to get us started. I got my pen and paper in hand, ready to take notes.

Eric:

Absolutely. As you mentioned, you actually addressed a lot of the points that happen in accidents. You may be injured. You’re disoriented. Depending on what happened to your body in the accident. You may have hit your head. Even if it’s a minor situation like yours. Two cars collide. You have a very aggressive, other driver, potentially intimidating. Whether it’s a bigger person or … Here in Nevada in Las Vegas, where I am located, we have a large Spanish speaking population, a lot of times there is a language barrier as well. I just want to go over a few things that you definitely want to do in an accident.

One of the big things they talk about, the first thing we have in our point is you should definitely stop at an accident. What I mean is that some people think if they take off, then they might be okay especially if it is their at fault. I guess you might get away with that. The problem is if you don’t, you know people catch license plates, they turn that information over to the police. You get caught in some kind of hit and run, something has gone from a minor fender bender, where you may get a ticket, to something to where you now potentially committed a much greater crime and you are facing much stiffer penalties, something that would affect your future record. That’s an important point to consider, always stop.

One of the things that has happened, more in the last ten years in a positive way is that everybody, practically has a cellphone. I’m not talking about, talking and driving and texting and driving, that’s obviously a no-no.

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Katherine:

Mm-hmm. (affirmative)

Eric:

The important thing with a cellphone is document everything. That’s one of our future points. When you have your cellphone, document everything. You have the ability to take video on your phone. Take pictures. You want to take pictures of the other person’s license, of their license plate, of their insurance, their registration. Any damage to your vehicle. Any pictures of the area surrounding you. Literally, you can’t have too many pictures.

Katherine:

Okay.

Eric:

That’s crucial. I tell it all the time. You even have a chance to take video. I will tell you, I represent plaintiffs, I represent people who are the victims in the accident. I can tell you, it happens all the time, where I have a client that comes in and says, “Oh there’s no problem. We had this accident and the other driver admitted that he was at fault or she was at fault…”

Katherine:

Mm-hmm. (affirmative)

Eric:

“…We didn’t call the police.” Because it was really clear. Sure enough, we open up a claim, we contact the at-fault party’s insurance company, and that insurance says, “Well, our client tells us that your driver did this, this, and this, so we’re going to deny your claim.” It happens very frequently, unfortunately. You know, sorry go ahead.

Katherine:

That’s a huge change from years ago when we didn’t have our phones and we weren’t able to take pictures so readily. I think that this is something to think about because it can prevent again a lot of misunderstandings of how it happened and we’re not relying on somebody to draw a diagram only and by this time, something may have moved, something may have changed or you didn’t know what to observe in a picture. Even when you look at it later, you’re like, “Oh, I didn’t notice that.” I think that’s huge, especially for technology. Years ago, we wouldn’t have had that.

Eric:

Absolutely. I don’t know if you’re a sports fan, but it’s sort of … When you sit there on TV, you’re able to say, “Oh, I would do that, this, this, and that.” When you’re in the heat of the moment, a lot of factors are going on, it’s not as easy to be as clear-headed as you would be, so when you are taking all these pictures, you give yourself the opportunity to at least capture as much as possible, maybe you don’t need them all, but at least you have everything there and if you don’t need it, fine, but if you do it’s available to you. It helps when someone is making a claims decision, someone in an office could be across the country. They have no connection with you or the air fare or anything and then making a decision on it. You want to have as much evidence as a backup to support your position.

Along with that point of stopping, we always recommend calling the police. In some areas, we actually had an issue here in Las Vegas for a while, that’s changed, but police for a while were not coming to accidents if there was a non-injury accident.

Katherine:

Okay.

Eric:

Now that may seem, well that makes sense, but what I can tell you, I’m not a doctor, but I’ve been doing this over 17 years. In my experience, a lot of people, the injuries from an accident, don’t show themselves right away. In an accident, you’ve got a lot of adrenaline going on. You’re caught up in the moment and you’ve got a lot of energy surging through you so you may not feel a pain or injury at that time. So if that’s the case, you claim not an injury. Potentially, the police, at least here, were not showing up. That has now changed, and since we’re talking to people across the country, it may depend on your jurisdiction, how they handle it.

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Katherine:

Mm-hmm. (affirmative)

Eric:

That’s why it’s always important to call the police and there is a big part behind that, is actually wait for them to show up.

Katherine:

Mm-hmm. (affirmative)

Eric:

Depending on your area, sometimes the police take a…long time.

Katherine:

A really long time. They do.

Eric:

They’re busy. Yeah.

Katherine:

I’ve also noticed some signs saying, minor, I guess collisions or minor accidents, move them off the road because what we would typically do, in an accident, you don’t want to move the car because you don’t want mess up the perspective of what happened and who was at fault. We can take pictures, videos, like you said, but then there are signs on the highway that will say, “move minor accidents off of the road” because then it keeps the traffic flowing. That’s another thing. I don’t know if that is part of the officers not coming, but they give us a little more power, especially if you can move the car and then you don’t have people slowing down where they’re trying to get to because of what’s happened with you.

Eric:

True. I just want to point out there though, be careful with that. One thing I am pointing out is because in an accident the damage is not always apparent to you. It could be a lot of hidden damage.

Katherine:

Mm-hmm. (affirmative)

Eric:

You just want to be careful you’re not moving a vehicle that there may be some internal, it’s almost like a body in a way, there could be some internal damage that’s not clear to the naked eye. With a vehicle, when you’re moving it, you want to be very careful that you’re not dislodging something that maybe has been shaken in the accident that could cause more damage to the vehicle or some kind of malfunction so be very careful when you’re making any kind of move before any police have arrived.

Katherine:

Okay. Good, that clarifies because I wanted to know. I’ve seen those signs and I wondered, but I felt like it wasn’t in power and I absolutely didn’t have that opportunity when it happened for myself, but I’ve seen it on the highways and I was curious about that, so excellent, excellent.

Eric:

If you’re going to move it though, definitely document as much as you can, take all the pictures first, before you move that. Then make sure you put yourself in a safe location. You don’t want to be standing like you said in the middle of a highway, not wanting to disturb the scene because you can cause significant collateral damage to other motorists.

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Katherine:

Mm-hmm. (affirmative) Okay. Well, this is good so far. How many are we up to now? We got five things we should do, but what number are we up to now?

Eric:

Right. I said stop. The next one we have on our list is be careful what you say.

Katherine:

Okay.

Eric:

This is important. After an accident, you have to check on yourself, check on any of your passengers in your vehicle. And then if you’re able to, a lot times you’re not able to, potentially, either your vehicle is not in a way to get out or you’re not feeling a good … Potentially communicate with the other driver, but that’s not always feasible. Be careful when the police come to what you’re saying because what they’re doing, they’re documenting and putting together a report and they are definitely doing their best. However, on a given day, they may have reported to ten accidents. Even though it’s very personal to you and it’s happened to you. It’s part of their job, they have other accidents to potentially worry about that day so be careful what you say. If you’re not sure about something, don’t just say something because you think it’s going to help the situation get resolved quicker.

The clients say, “Yeah, it was no big deal.” Then they’re coming to me two days later, complaining of significant injuries because the adrenaline’s worn off. They weren’t aware of everything going on, but now there is a police report that says, “No injury, minor,” things like that. That’s difficult. We overcome that all the time, but it’s just one step against you in making a claim where the insurance says, “Well, Katherine said she wasn’t injured. Look I’m telling you…”

Katherine:

Wow.

Eric:

“…what it is here.”

Katherine:

Right.

Eric:

It’s very important to not jump to any conclusions. I know again, it’s hard to think clearly when you’ve just been in an accident. You’re heading to an appointment, now you’re late, there’s all these other factors going on and you just want to potentially get out of there but it’s very important that you, as much as you can, keep your wits to at least present yourself and not close any future doors to you regarding your accident claim.

Katherine:

Gotcha. Gotcha. As we talk I’m thinking about the incident and the guy, he laughed. He was like, “Oh my neck and my back,” and I was like, “Okay, wow, don’t do that!” He took me a for a headache. I tell you, he made a terrible headache out of it. My scenario has nothing to do with the five things to do when you’re in an accident but just…

Eric:

No, please, it helps.

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Katherine:

…sharing my story. This guy was a disbarred attorney, is what we learned in the mediation and he wanted to treat it as if it was a court case. It was like I was on trial.

Eric:

Yes.

Katherine:

I apologized, I did not see him and I was a humble as I thought I could be and by the time we had this mediation I was furious. It just seemed like a circus, like “Are you serious?” He had a VW, no it was a small car. I have a Mitsubishi Mirage so I have a tiny car and his car was a Rabbit. So he has an older, little car. He carried on about how his car is an antique, and I damaged it and carried on and on and on. And so the guy who was representing me from the insurance company, he says, “Well you had dents on the opposing side of the car that had nothing to do with the accident on your antique.” Ad I’m looking back on it now, it’s funny but I will never forget that accident because he wanted $20,000 for this car.

Eric:

Mm-hmm. (affirmative) Okay.

Katherine:

I was about to have a heart attack, Attorney Blank, I’m so serious. I was like, “Are you serious?” Because I even looked up the Blue Book value of this car even if it was in good condition and it wasn’t near $20,000. And he’s carrying on, “It’s an antique,” and he’s had personal injury of high blood pressure. Is that a such thing?

Eric:

Listen. This is a guy you’re describing, kind of gives a lot of us a … I don’t like hearing about people like that. They bring a bad reputation, they cast a negative light on what actually happens when people are in an accident. People do get injured. Yes, there are accidents, and that’s why it’s called an accident. For the most part, the person wasn’t intentionally trying to hit you but they did and in so doing, oftentimes it caused damage to a vehicle and damage to the body. That’s why there’s insurance coverage for that.

Katherine:

Mm-hmm. (affirmative)

Eric:

Now this guy sounds like from what you’re saying a bit of a clown and he gives a bad name and frankly, even though he’s a disbarred attorney, so he’s not even an attorney, but one of our points on our list is point number five is that you should talk to an attorney. And one of the reasons is, if this guy was in my office, we’re talking to him…

Katherine:

Mm-hmm. (affirmative)

Eric:

…there would not be a claim from what you told me that I’d be interested in taking. So one the reasons you talk to an attorney is that you can help sort of sort a lot of this out. This is one of the reasons that it’s important talking to an attorney is this is what we do for a living. Obviously, not everybody’s the same, there’s good and bad in every profession, but if you talk to someone who’s been doing it for a while, you’re able to sort through and talk you through what we believe is potentially available and what kind of case we think you have.

Katherine:

Mm-hmm. (affirmative)

Eric:

I don’t come to you and say, “Okay, I’m just going to do this show right now without any training or any practice.” As an individual who’s never been in an accident you might be able to figure all of it out, but you might not and you’re going to get run around. Insurance companies are smart and they’re well-funded. They’re a multi-billion dollar industry and it’s not an accident. This is why it’s important to talk to an attorney who can give you an unbiased opinion and what potentially you could be seeking for, what you might be able to go for in an accident.

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Katherine:

Mm-hmm. (affirmative) Wow. That was a tough space for me to be in.

Eric:

Especially in your end of it, yeah. That’s why you have auto insurance. If there is a claim and you acknowledge that you were at fault but, it doesn’t mean that … Just because you’re at fault doesn’t necessarily mean the flood gates open up either.

Katherine:

Mm-hmm. (affirmative)

Eric:

Because you struck another vehicle, your car doesn’t mean that all these other things happen. Could high blood pressure result from an accident? There are situations where that could. I would say that’s more rare than common. When you’re in a personal injury situation you’re putting your health into question. You’re saying, “Hey, I was injured this way,” so in doing so, the insurance of the other driver does have the opportunity, if it enters into a lawsuit, they’re entitled to get your medical history within reason. Again, that depends state to state. They get that information so they can make an assessment. If you’ve already had significant high blood pressure and you’ve been getting ongoing treatment for it, claiming that from an accident would be a hard claim to uphold and pursue.

Katherine:

Mm-hmm. (affirmative) All right. Have we gone through all five yet because I’m caught up in the conversation and sharing my story, I’m not counting.

Eric:

No, that’s okay. Well, we sort of worked a lot of them in. The one we left off so far was to get medical treatment. Even if it’s just a checkup and even if you think it was a minor accident, it is important to at least get checked out by some type of physician, whether it’s a medical doctor, chiropractor, somebody to at least check you out. Because as I mentioned earlier, after an accident you have a lot of adrenaline going, you’re very pumped up after an accident and your injuries unfortunately don’t always show themselves that instant. Sometimes it’s later that night, sometimes it’s the next day, couple days later, even a week or so later. They start to show themselves because as you start to try and resume your daily activities, you start noticing limitations or pains that weren’t there prior to the accident. And that’s very, very, very common after an accident that injuries start to show themselves after an accident. When your tissues … When you have adrenaline going, your tissues, they swell up…

Katherine:

Yeah.

Eric:

…and then when they start to resume their, when they start to reduce size, you start to notice more pains. So it’s very important that you get the treatment. At least get checked out. And that’s also important in the point of making a claim for compensation for your injuries. Insurance companies always love to say, “Well, look, they didn’t claim they were injured, there was a gap in treatment,” all those issues come up. So important that at least for your body’s well-being and also for any potential claim that you do seek treatment soon after an accident.

Katherine:

Now, I always have trouble with that. It’s taken me a while for me to feel the pain after the accident but it seems like we’re in a rush to go and assess the pain and it may be weeks before you feel it, so it’s like a catch-22 with that.

Eric:

You’re absolutely correct, that’s a great point. That is one of the things that is sort of a struggle because we’ve made that argument before. Each case is different but I can tell you just in my totality of experience and also in speaking with other plaintiff’s attorneys, that’s one of the main issues that pops up a lot, if there’s that gap in initial treatment. Even if it’s plausible that generally doesn’t play well either to an insurance company or even to a jury. People often think if you are hurt that bad you would’ve already gotten treatment. And so the fact that you waited a week or ten days or two weeks to get treatment…

Katherine:

Mm-hmm. (affirmative)

Eric:

…you couldn’t have been hurt that bad. Now, I don’t think the human body works that way. However, I’m just going to say, generally if I had to pick one side or the other I think generally the pain’s going to fall on the side that if they wait too long then you really weren’t hurt.

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Katherine:

Hmm.

Eric:

I don’t agree with that.

Katherine:

We need to work on that.

Eric:

Yeah, I don’t agree with that. Exactly. Exactly. But I’m just going to say, in general that’s the way it’s generally perceived.

Katherine:

You’re right. You’re right. I want to say thank you. I want us to recap each one because again I was telling my story and we were weaving in the five steps. So I want you to go back and recap what the five steps are and let the “This Needs to Be Said” audience know how to get in touch with you outside of this conversation because we know that all conversations will be different. Accidents will be different and this was just a general conversation and if they want more specifics they can get in touch with you. Give us the five steps as a recap.

Eric:

Sure.

Katherine:

Let them know how to get in touch with you as well as how they can get a copy of your pamphlet.

Eric:

Absolutely. The five steps, things to do when you’re in an accident. Number one is to stop, don’t leave the scene. Stop, call the police and let the officer know what happened.

Number two, when doing that, be very careful what you say to both the police officer and the other driver or drivers. Also, I should weave this in, be careful what you say, you shouldn’t be talking at that point to any insurance company, giving any statements. If you talk to them just give them the facts, no recorded statements. Definitely no recorded statements to the insurance…

Katherine:

Mm-hmm. (affirmative)

Eric:

…without an attorney present, okay?

Katherine:

Okay

Eric:

Number three, take pictures. Document everything. The license, the cars, the insurance, the registration, the people in the vehicle, the pictures of the street where it happened, or streets. If there’s any traffic signals or stop signs, pictures of those as well so anybody looking at that can get a feel of the accident scene.

Number four is to get medical treatment. As we talked about, your adrenaline is high after an accident so you want to make sure that you do get checked out and your potential injuries documented so that future care or ongoing care that you receive has at least been noted and acted upon.

The last one is talk to and hire an attorney. I should point this out, this area what we practice in, we work on a contingency basis. Which means we don’t get paid unless you recover money for you as a client. So we’re not coming in an taking any fee. Our fee comes if we’re able to recover for you so with that in mind, we’re going to want to take cases that we think we can help you with an recover on so we don’t waste your time and honestly, we don’t waste our time, so that’s the benefit … We’re kind of working in the same direction. Because we only get paid if you get paid. Also hiring an attorney allows you to protect a lot of the rights … The insurance companies are very savvy and they’re smart and you certainly want to make sure that when you’re dealing with this that you are not giving up rights that you have because you think that you’re being handled fairly by the insurance because unfortunately, oftentimes you’re not. So those are the five steps to go over what you should do when you’re in an accident.

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Katherine:

Okay. How do people get in touch with you to talk about their own situations outside of this interview?

Eric:

Oh, absolutely, thank you. We have several ways. Number one is we have a phone number. Our phone number is 702-222-2115, it’s 702, four two’s, 222, 2115. We also have our website and that website is my name, which is www.EricBlankLaw.com. And the pamphlet we just talked about is on our website. You’re able to go in there and enter your name right in the middle of the page, enter your name there and we’ll send you, or you’ll actually be able to download a copy of this pamphlet so you have this information. We also have on our website a way you can just contact us directly with your questions and we get back to you within the same day, to give you information and to hopefully consult with you. All our consults are free so that you can at least know you have a case.

Katherine:

Okay. Awesome. I want to say thank you so much for being a part of the conversation on today and much success.

Eric:

Thank you and I appreciate it. It was a pleasure being here.

Katherine:

Awesome. Bye now.

Eric:

Thank you. Bye bye.

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