After you have been injured by a person, company, or some government agency, you may be wondering if there is anything you can do to help your case and make sure you are able to get the most amount of money possible for your injuries. The answer is you can and this chapter will walk you through the steps you can take to help your case.
GET THE MEDICAL CARE YOU NEED AND COOPERATE WITH YOUR DOCTORS
Getting the medical care you need is the most important thing you can do in your case. Until and unless you are recovered, then there is really nothing that can be done on your case. You should see your primary or family doctor and if they suggest you see a specialist or see a chiropractor or physical therapist, then by all means, do so. If you feel like you should see a physical therapist or a chiropractor on your own, in addition to your family doctors, then you should do so.
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This is similar to keeping track of the medical providers you have seen, but it is also helpful to keep a list of your physical symptoms and complaints as soon as you experience them. In addition, it is also helpful to keep track of the things in your life you either cannot do at all or that you cannot do as well because of your accident. For example, if your back was hurt in your accident and you could not play soccer for a few months, this needs to noted. It is also a good idea to keep a timeline of how you, hopefully, progressed over time and which medical treatments worked best.
The reason this is important is that you may not recall how you felt in the weeks and months after the accident, but it is important that you are able to since the money you receive is in some ways dependent on how much your life was impacted and changed because of your injuries.
TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE ACCIDENT AND YOUR INJURY
When you take a photograph, it is important that you date it and make sure you store it in a safe place, and not just on your cellphone. Storing it in some kind of cloud or a thumb drive is best. If you were in a car accident, taking a photograph of both your vehicle and the one who hit you is a good idea. If you have bruises, cuts, or marks left from the trauma of your accident, then it is a good idea to take photographs of them as well.
GET WITNESS STATEMENTS
Getting witness statements from people is a good idea to help your case. Witness statements can come in two different forms. The first is a witness statement from someone or people who actually witnessed the accident. Make sure to get their name, phone number, email, and mailing address.
The second kind of witness statement is from someone who may not have witnessed the accident or injury at the exact moment it happened but someone who has seen firsthand how the accident has impacted your life. For example, this might be a friend, family member, co-worker, or neighbor. Anyone who knew you both before and after the accident and can talk about the way you were personally impacted is a good witness.
BE CAREFUL WITH SOCIAL MEDIA
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Social media has become a constant and growing presence in our lives. As you can imagine, depending on what you post, it can be a problem for your case. It is best to make sure your profile is set to private so that no one can see your pictures or your posts but family and friends. This is true for Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, and Snapchat, and any other social media post.
In addition, before posting anything, whether they be photographs or words, ask yourself this question: if my case goes all the way to a trial and a judge or a jury were to see these photographs or words, would it hurt my case? If the answer is yes, do not post it. In addition, it is becoming increasingly common for the insurance company to try to find you by looking at your friends and family member’s social media pages in hopes that they will be public and that you will be in these photographs and will be tagged, so do not assume that just because your profile is private that you cannot be found. You can still be found.
DO NOT TALK TO THE INSURANCE COMPANY
Immediately after the accident it is very common for the insurance company for the driver who hit you to call you, email, send letters, or all three. Many times they will ask if they can record your conversation. And they will almost always attempt to have you sign documents that settle your case very early on in your case, which is often premature.
BE CAREFUL WHO YOU SHARE INFORMATION WITH
This has been touched on already to a certain extent, but it needs to be stressed again that you should be careful what you tell people, even family and friends. The reason is that if you have a lawyer, the information you share is protected by the attorney-client privilege, meaning it is kept secret.
However, anything and everything you tell people in your life is not protected by the same privilege. This means that if you told a family member, friend, co-worker, or neighbor about your case, the insurance company or their lawyer could come to them and interview them, assuming if a lawsuit has not yet been filed. It is not likely that this would be good for your case, unless these people speak in good terms about you.
BE AWARE OF PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS WHO COULD BE WATCHING YOU
While it may sound shocking and illegal, it is possible and legal for the insurance company to send a private investigator to spy on you. There is no way to tell when an insurance company will send someone to spy on you. In most cases, it is only done if you have very large medical bills, but it can also be done if the insurance company thinks your case is likely to go to trial, or if they have caught wind or have some kind of suspicion that you perhaps you are faking or greatly exaggerating your injuries.
GET THE DOCUMENTS YOU NEED
When you are going through a personal injury case, there are going to be certain documents you need to prove your case. The sooner you can obtain these, the quicker your case will go forward.
Medical Records, Past and Present
You’re going to need all of your medical records and bills from your injuries. This can take some time since medical providers can take time to give you your records and bills. For the most part, the bigger the facility, the longer it takes. Chiropractors and physical therapists do not take as long as, for example, a large hospital where trauma patients are taken—for example, Parkland Hospital in Dallas, and Harborview in Seattle, Washington. In addition to current medical bills and records, you may also need to obtain medical records for injuries you suffered in the recent past. Recent past typically means three to four years prior the accident, depending on whether you were treating for your injuries from a prior, unrelated issue just prior to your accident.
Documents to Support Your Wage Loss Claim
If you believe you lost money from your job because of your accident, you have the legal right to make a claim for this and ask the insurance company to pay this. However, you need to be able to prove this beyond just your words or your belief in what you lost. The insurance company will need evidence to support this. The most common documents you can use to support your claim are:
- Tax returns
- Pay stubs or pay statements
- Bank statements