Your first instinct after a devastating accident might be to put it behind you as soon as possible, but moving on too quickly can ultimately prevent you from getting compensated for your injuries.
In fact, the quality and scope of your post-accident documentation can make or break your chances of filing a successful personal injury lawsuit. Use the tips below as a checklist to collect all of the evidence you will need to get the justice you deserve.
1. Take as many pictures as possible of anything related to the circumstances or the consequences of your accident. Start with the accident scene itself. If you are seriously injured and must get to the hospital, try to find a friend or a relative who can take pictures while you get treated. You want both close-up images and photographs taken from further away so you can give your attorney or the court a clear understanding of what happened if you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit.
If you do not have a camera on hand, you can use your cell phone. In addition to photographing the accident, take pictures of your injuries and how they heal. Make sure that every image has a time stamp.
2. Get personal information from everyone who was directly or indirectly involved in your accident including any witnesses and police officers. If you are dealing with a motorcycle or an automobile accident, exchange license plates and registration information.
Pay attention to the name on the registration. If it is different from the one you were given by the driver, ask about his or her relationship to the owner of the registration.
In general, make sure that all of the information you are given is accurate. Asking for private identification can feel like you are invading a stranger’s privacy, but it can save you a lot of problems in the long run. The best way to ask for proof of identity is to do it nicely. Do not blame the other party for the accident or threaten to sue. Being aggressive will only make it tougher for you to get the documents you need to move forward with your personal injury claim in the future.
3. Use a journal to record how you feel physically and emotionally while your injuries heal. Putting how your accident has affected your daily life in writing will not only help you remember important details in the future, but it can also help your attorney build a strong personal injury case.
4. Keep track of all expenses incurred as a result of your accident. You or your attorney will need to provide proof of your financial losses if you feel that you lost money or earnings from work because of your emotional or physical injuries. Set aside a special folder for any relevant paperwork including medical bills and reports, documents pertaining to lost wage, receipts for prescriptions and travel expenses. Remember that anything counts as long as it can be traced back to your accident or your injuries. For example, file your transportation tickets or receipts if you now need to travel to a new medical office to get treatment for the injuries you sustained during your accident.
5. Document all correspondence with any professionals who can help you confirm the validity of your personal injury claim. If you exchange emails or letters with your doctor or physical therapist, make sure that you hold on to them as additional proof of the problems you faced as a result of your injuries.
In general, the one rule you should always remember is to hold on to absolutely everything that can be linked to your accident or your injuries. Details that might seem insignificant to you can end up being very important down the road. You can always put aside any paperwork you do not need to prove your case, but you cannot go back in time to get the documents you missed if you end up needing them. When in doubt, the best course of action is to contact a personal injury lawyer for help. Your attorney can put you at ease about the legal process, give you more documenting tips and help you get a fair outcome.