Answer: Call the police, especially in motor vehicle related accidents. One of the main functions of the police department is to accurately report an occurrence. Although there is no requirement for a police report to pursue a personal injury claim, a reported event tends to corroborate the happening and version of the accident later presented. If medical assistance is immediately required, call for emergency assistance, such as an ambulance. If you don’t think that an Ambulance is necessary, go to the emergency room or see the doctor without delay. If the condition that caused the injury (such as a premises case) involves a transitory condition, such as snow and ice, garbage and debris (conditions that have a tendency to change), please have a friend or relative take photos of the condition that caused your accident. If there are witnesses to the accident, please obtain their name, address and phone number. A statement can be later obtained from them. A non‑party’s account of the occurrence can carry a significant weight when it comes to factual discrepancies between the parties of the case, and their corroboration of the occurrence can mean the difference between winning and losing a case.
Obviously witnesses are helpful to a case, but they are not a required element in order to have a viable case. Many accidents are not witnessed. Your testimony given at a later time of the facts of the occurrence is evidence.
Lastly, contact an attorney in order to obtain fact specific advise that specifically applies to your type of accident and situation. There are many short deadlines involved in personal injury matters. For example, in motor vehicle accidents, there is a 30 day deadline in which to file for No‑Fault benefits. Cases against municipal entities have Notice of Claim requirements that depending upon the municipal entity can be as short as 60 days from the date of occurrence. Filing deadlines aside, investigation by a professional, in terms of photographs, witness statements, expert evaluations (such as an engineer) close in time to the accident when the condition is as it was at the time of the occurrence, can also mean the difference in the proper presentation of a personal injury matter. The plaintiff in a case does have the burden of proof in proving the elements required, and it is important that a proactive approach is taken early in time.