The preparation and proving of your personal injury claim begins immediately after the accident or incident that caused your injuries. A good personal injury lawyer knows that evidence can dissipate over time. Memories fade. Witness recollections become foggy. The scene of an accident will change. It is critical to preserve evidence after an accident in order to help you prepare and prove your case.
During the hours and days after an accident, your personal injury attorney will be gathering certain critical evidence that may no longer exist if not collected immediately. This may, for example, involve sending out an investigator to the scene of the accident to take photographs and going to meet with witnesses to interview them and take their statements. It has been shown that witnesses generally have much more vivid and more accurate memories right after an accident than they will have weeks or months later.
Where needed, your personal injury lawyer will also ask you to have a friend of family member take pictures of your injuries before you have a chance to meet with your lawyer. Pictures of physical injuries at the time of injury, such as fresh cuts, bruises, or burns, will go a long way when it comes time to prepare a demand package or at the time of trial in a lawsuit. Cuts, bruises, swelling, burns, or other injuries, may partially heal by the time you and your lawyer meet and your lawyer can see them and take pictures for you. For this reason, you should take pictures as soon as possible in order to preserve this type of evidence and show it to an insurance company, or judge or jury, when it comes time to resolve your claim and determine the amount of monetary compensation that should be awarded on account of your injuries.
Investigation and evidence gathering is done at various stages in a personal injury claim. During the days after an accident, investigation and evidence gathering will focus primarily on securing facts and evidence that may disappear with time. Once the critical, time-sensitive evidence is secured, the focus of the fact gathering investigation will shift to gathering other important evidence. This may include police reports, medical records from doctors, hospital records, physical therapy records, video surveillance or accident reports from a store where an injury occurred, and other similar types of evidence. While your attorney is obtaining this evidence, you will be focusing on your health and recovery, going to your doctor and any physical therapy sessions as needed.
Before you do anything else, talk to an attorney. No amount of information that you read on your own can substitute for the value of a consultation with a personal injury attorney. Depending on your specific situation, there may be important steps that you need to take to protect your rights, and an experienced injury attorney will be able to advise you on how to protect you and your family’s interests.