Filing a personal injury lawsuit might not be the first activity that comes to mind in the seconds after an accident, but time is an important factor in civil lawsuits.
One of the best ways to decide if you should file a lawsuit is to arrange for a consultation with a personal injury attorney.
You don’t need to guess whether your case has merit. An attorney can help you make that decision.
However, you’ll receive the best advice if you prepare some essential documents and come prepared with the information the lawyer will need in order to fully discuss the case.
Here are some important things to keep in mind before your consultation.
It’s difficult to think straight after an accident — whether you’ve been injured in a car crash, you’ve fallen on someone else’s property, or you’ve been injured at work. One of the most vital pieces of a successful lawsuit comes in the form of evidence. Witness testimony is important, but so is the evidence that’s meant to support that testimony.
Anything you can save as evidence from the accident is important. Evidence may include:
- photographs taken at the scene of the accident
- medical records and bills created as a result of the incident
- emails between you and the insurance company
- the names of witnesses
If you’re not sure if something might prove valuable for the lawsuit, don’t second-guess yourself. Ask your personal injury lawyer before throwing anything away.
Keep All Records
Start collecting all documents that you receive as a result of the accident. Keep all paperwork related to medical bills, anything that you get from an insurance company or mechanic (in the event of a car crash), and absolutely any correspondence
Tip: Don’t forget to save and print out emails! Not all essential communications today occur through the regular mail. Always print out emails in full format (rather than “printer friendly”), so you’ll have as much information as possible, like the address from which an email was sent and the time it was delivered.
Photograph the Incident and Injuries
One of the most helpful activities you can do for your car accident lawyer is to take pictures. Most everyone has a phone with a decent camera these days. Use it. If you’re able to take your own pictures at the scene of an accident, take as many as possible and include the following if they apply to your circumstances:
- Every angle of the car, even the parts that weren’t damaged.
- The interior of the car, particularly on the side of the damage.
- Pictures in every direction surrounding the vehicle.
- As many photographs as possible of the other driver’s car.
- Signs, stoplights, and unique features of the scene.
- Pictures of your body if you’re injured.
Remember: Don’t just take pictures at the scene of the accident. If you were injured in addition to having your car totaled, make sure you take pictures regularly before, during, and after any treatments, surgeries, and examinations.
Don’t be afraid to ask a friend or family member to take pictures of you and your injuries. It can be difficult to share your experience with another person, but photographs can become a helpful part of your recovery and a valuable piece of evidence for your lawsuit.
Write Down Your Experience
The trauma of an accident is difficult to relive, and you may find yourself thinking about the accident even when you don’t want to in the days and weeks after it occurred. Over time, our memories fade, even when we experience a traumatic event. A written diary of what you experienced is an essential part of being prepared for your legal consultation.
Sometimes, lawsuits are lengthy and take more than a year to conclude. Don’t risk forgetting the events of the accident by neglecting to write down your experience. Was a family member or close friend with you at the time of a car accident? Ask him or her to do the same thing and write down every detail he or she can remember about the crash.
Other Considerations For Your Consultation
Heavy documentation helps with insurance companies.
When you file a personal injury lawsuit, there’s a good chance your auto accident attorney will be dealing with an insurance company. Insurance companies employ people who are adept at fighting claims, and your lawyer will use your documentation as ammunition for settling your lawsuit or getting a verdict in your favor in a lawsuit.
Arrange a consultation quickly.
You’ve probably heard that it’s important to speak to an attorney quickly after an accident, and that’s a solid piece of advice for anyone considering a civil lawsuit. As an injured party, you only have a short amount of time to file your lawsuit before the court says it’s been too long, and you can no longer sue another party for injuries and damages.
Swift action gives you time.
Also, when you speak with an attorney immediately after an accident, you’ll know quickly whether you have a claim and whether it’s a good idea to file a lawsuit. You’ll have a little breathing room to decide if you really want to undertake a lawsuit or if you’d rather not. Visiting a lawyer and talking about a potential lawsuit doesn’t mean you have to file. The decision is up to you.
Treat the consultation like an interview.
An auto accident lawyer or attorney who specializes in personal injury cases is invaluable for helping you figure out if filing a claim is in your best interest. However, your lawyer is working for you, not the other way around. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, particularly if you’re confused about anything your lawyer has told you during the consultation.
If you’re able to bring your lawyer a variety of documents and pictures about your accident, you’ll have the best shot at success with your lawsuit. However, never neglect your own mental or physical health to take care of something related to the lawsuit. Your health and safety are always more important than a trial.
If you have been injured and are in need of an honest, reputable and reliable personal injury attorney, contact The VanDeLoo Firm for a free initial consultation or call (972) 200-5080 today.