Sustaining an injury, whether it is a slip and fall or a car accident or something else entirely, can be a scary and confusing time. For many people, sustaining a serious injury is among the lowest points in their lives. It can be particularly confusing when someone else is at fault for your injury. While no one wants to think about bringing a lawsuit immediately after an injury occurs, it is in your best interest to prepare as though a lawsuit will occur.
First, you need to make sure that your medical needs are taken care of. It will not do you any good to start any of the other steps if you have not ensured that your medical needs are met. In fact, it may hurt your lawsuit if you neglect your medical needs, as the defendant could argue that your injuries were increased by a failure to seek immediate medical attention.
It is important to retain any physical evidence related to your injury. Preserving any physical evidence of the incident can help to prove your claim in court. You should, when possible, gather the evidence as soon as you can, because accident scenes can change or be altered. For example, make sure you keep any torn clothing, broken equipment and important documents, and try to keep them in the same condition.
Photographs of car accident scenes or the area where someone fell can provide a lot of information for your attorney. Taking photos is very easy, as well, because so many people have smartphones with cameras. You should generally try to take photos of the scene from multiple angles. Remember, it is better to have too many photos rather than wishing you had taken more.
A witness can be very helpful in proving your claims. Once an incident occurs, if you are not too injured, try to obtain the name and contact information for anyone that may have seen what happened. Remember that people may move, ignore phone calls or simply forget, so you should always try to find as many witnesses as possible to ensure that you have someone able to confirm your story.
If you are involved in a car accident, or any other incident where law enforcement was summoned, like an assault, then a police report will be created. You are entitled to receive a copy of the officer's police report. Generally, you just need to contact the police department to request your copy, although sometimes it may take a few days and you may be required to pay a small fee.
The police report can provide significant evidence to help bolster your case. For example, in a car accident, the report will often provide a description and diagram of the accident, along with the officer's conclusion regarding fault. Some police reports even contain the names of witnesses. In short, a police report provides information that is valuable throughout the case, from determining whether to sue to settlement negotiations to trial.
Finally, you should try to write down as much as you are able, particularly right after the incident. Be as descriptive as you can, and include what you noticed about the scene before the incident. Make sure that you take notes regarding exactly what happened, including both before and after the incident occurred. And don't forget to include your emotional state as well, as that can be important. Also, documenting your injuries, and especially any difficulties with everyday life can help to establish how your injuries have affected you.