Many involved in an accident have never hired an attorney before. While each personal injury case is different, there are a series of steps the victim must take when filing a lawsuit. Understanding this process enables victims to know what to expect and make informed decisions.
Get medical care
The first thing the injured should do is seek medical care. Whether it is calling 911 and taking an ambulance to the emergency room or going to see a doctor for ongoing symptoms of head trauma or back soreness, it is best to document these injuries as soon as possible. If you have a regular physician, then be sure and follow up to any emergency care by visiting your regular doctor and following his or her advice.
Victims may need the help of friends or family to do this, but it is key to gather as much information as possible as soon as possible. This includes:
- Take pictures of the scene and damage as well as your own injuries
- Write down contact information of the other driver
- Write down what witnesses or anyone else involved say
- Get the name and badge number of the responding officer and request a copy of the police report if there is one
Keep in mind that the potential suit may be against the municipality or government agency responsible for the maintenance of the roads or a manufacturer of the vehicle or another third party who causes a hazard rather than the other driver. It is also advisable to not give or sign any statements without first consulting with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney.
Discuss your case with a qualified attorney
Just as injuries should be treated as soon as possible, it is also recommended that those planning legal action should also begin the process in a timely fashion to avoid the loss of evidence or the failing to take action in the court system within the time allowed by law. An attorney can help start this process.
It begins with an initial consultation, which is a meeting where the potential client and the attorney sit down and discuss the details of the case. It is crucial to be honest and understand that the attorney may ask difficult questions. It is in your best interests to answer them as truthfully as possible, although it is understandable that traumatic events like crashes can seem like a blur. The lawyer will ask about insurance coverage and what was said to the insurance adjuster.
Once the client chooses the attorney and the attorney accepts, the attorney and their team will discuss strategies, potential issues and other details of the case. While most cases are settled before going to trial, a thorough attorney prepares each case as if they plan to present it before a judge. Finally, it also important to remember that if the attorney accepts the case attorney fees come out of the settlement, so there are no out of pocket attorney fees to the victims.