Personal injury cases can become quite complicated. There are numerous factors that a plaintiff will need to prove, which will require gathering specific evidence from a variety of different sources like specialists and law enforcement. Thus, the best way to prepare for a strong personal injury case is to hire a local personal injury attorney who has experience in handling similar lawsuits.
The right personal injury attorney can:
- Make sure that you have a viable personal injury claim;
- Discuss your options for legal recourse and the potential remedies you can recover;
- Explain the procedural requirements of the legal option you pursue;
- Identify evidence that you might be missing and can help you collect that evidence;
- Draft and review necessary legal documents;
- Inform you about important rights and protections that you have under the law;
- Provide representation in court and/or at settlement meetings; and
- Offer legal advice, so you can make educated decisions about your situation.
Aside from hiring and meeting with a personal injury attorney, some other things you can do to prepare a strong personal injury case include:
- Discuss your injuries with your medical team (e.g., primary physician, specialist, etc.);
- Obtain copies of your medical records and corresponding receipts for treatment received;
- Speak to law enforcement to retrieve copies of the police report associated with your case (if the police were involved);
- Gather any other case-related evidence and store it in an organized fashion;
- Avoid conduct that may hurt your case (e.g., insulting the other party, admitting fault to the insurance company, posting details about the case on social media); and
- Consult your attorney if you are unsure about a case-related issue, want to know about the status of your case, or need to inform them about something that could impact the outcome of the case (e.g., your injury has gotten worse, etc.).
What Type of Documents and Questions Should I Bring to My Personal Injury Attorney?
The types of documents that a client should bring when meeting with their personal injury attorney should be those that can help bolster their case. For instance, the attorney will need to establish that the client has suffered damages that were caused by the opposing party. Thus, they will have to show what those damages are and proof that they were in fact caused by the other party, not the plaintiff themselves.
Accordingly, some types of documents that may be useful to establish injuries and damages may include the following:
- Photos, videos, or audio recordings of the accident, related injuries and/or property damage, the conditions at the scene of the incident, and so on.
- A list of witnesses and their contact information (e.g., eyewitnesses, victims, etc.).
- Evidence and costs associated with the injuries, such as test results, treatments, medical charts, therapy, medical estimates for future treatments, and receipts for all medical expenses.
- Police records or reports from the incident (if any);
- Documents that prove the plaintiff missed days of work or lost wages (e.g., pay stubs, tax returns, timesheets, etc.).
- Various other documents that show the client was forced to spend money because of their injuries (e.g., renovations to a house to accommodate a disability, car rental if their vehicle was totaled, travel expenses for friends or family that needed to care for them after the accident, and so forth).
The plaintiff should also be prepared to ask their attorney any questions they may have about the case. Some items that a plaintiff should know about when involved in a personal injury case include:
- Whether it is worth going to trial or if they should simply settle;
- The types of damages they can recover based on the circumstances;
- Whether there is any evidence missing that can make their case stronger;
- The way the lawyer intends to bill for the case (e.g., contingency fee basis, flat fee, etc.);
- What costs they are responsible for if the lawyer works on a contingency fee basis;
- How long it may take to resolve their case; and
- How much time the lawyer expects the plaintiff to dedicate to their case (e.g., some lawyers require their clients to be very involved, whereas others prefer their clients have minimal involvement with the case).
What Makes a Strong or Weak Personal Injury Case?
Some factors that can make a personal injury case stronger include:
- Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney;
- Gathering solid evidence that proves or disproves the other party caused injuries and damages to the plaintiff, depending on which party is reviewing this information;
- Being honest and upfront with the lawyer about all case-related facts and materials;
- Asking questions when the client does not understand something about the case (e.g., if they do not know what a particular law means or what types of damages they can recover);
- Filing a claim before the statute of limitations expires;
- Seeking medical attention immediately after receiving the injury and proof that medical attention was provided;
- Being able to prove that the plaintiff suffered a financial loss due to their injuries;
- Behaving in a way that does not harm the case (e.g., not posting about the case on social media); and
- Having zero liability for the harm done (e.g., the plaintiff did not contribute to their own injuries).
In contrast, some factors may make a personal injury case weaker include:
- Not hiring a personal injury lawyer to represent the client in court or to negotiate with the insurance company on the client’s behalf;
- Hiring a lawyer who has no experience with personal injury cases;
- Admitting fault to other parties or the insurance company;
- Posting about the case online and telling other people explicit details about the case;
- Not having solid evidence to support or refute a claim;
- Failing to get medical treatment after suffering an injury;
- Giving the insurance company a recorded statement or signing an agreement without consulting a lawyer first;
- Lying to the lawyer about the events that led to the injury or about the actual injuries;
- Having multiple insurance claims on record or being involved in many personal injury lawsuits; and
- Behaving disrespectfully towards the lawyer, the court, jury members, other parties, and so on.
What Types of Personal Injury Cases Benefit the Most from an Attorney’s Help?
In general, the type of personal injury case that benefits the most from an attorney’s help is a case that involves multiple parties, a large amount of damages, and an incident where it may be hard to determine who exactly is at fault.
Some examples of these types of cases include:
- Motor vehicle accidents;
- Medical malpractice claims;
- Wrongful death lawsuits;
- Accidents in the workplace;
- Slip and fall cases;
- Premises liability claims; and
- Product liability lawsuits.
When Do I Need a Personal Injury Attorney?
There are a number of circumstances wherein hiring a personal injury attorney may be in your best interest. For instance, if you were in an accident and you do not know who is at fault for the resulting injuries, then you will need to hire a personal injury attorney to protect your rights, defend you against any claims, and to help you recover damages for your injuries. This is especially true when an incident involved multiple parties.
You will also likely need a personal injury attorney if you sustained a severe injury or suffered a permanent disability (e.g., paralysis, loss of limbs, etc.). In these types of cases, you should not represent yourself because you may risk losing your case and the opportunity to recover a large damages award. A personal injury attorney can help ensure you comply with the proper laws and legal procedures, and will know how to present your case in the most favorable light.
Finally, you will need a personal injury attorney if the insurance company delays or denies your claim. Insurance companies are usually protected by big legal teams whose main job entails preventing personal injury claims from moving forward and settling such claims for a minimal amount of damages. A personal injury attorney can help prevent this situation from happening and will be able to explain the laws and/or procedures to reinstate your claim.