You've been in an accident - Now what?
There are three legal questions we must answer in any accident or injury case:
1. What happened?
2. Who is responsible for the accident or injury? and
3. What kind of harm resulted?
An excellent way to preserve the important details of your accident or injury is to take notes. Write down the events as you remember them as soon after the incident as possible. HOWEVER, DO NOT GIVE THESE NOTES TO ANYONE BUT YOUR ATTORNEY.
What to Write Down
As soon as you can, write down everything you can think of that relates to:
- What exactly happened before, during, and after the incident that led to your injury -- time and place, weather conditions, who was present, what was said, how the incident played out, what you experienced and felt, and anything else that you feel may be important to record.
- Extent of your injuries -- what injuries you suffered (physical and mental), medical treatment you received (past and future), and the effect of your injuries on every aspect of your work, social, and personal life. This includes visits to the doctor and physical therapist, time missed from work, any planned vacations that were postponed or cancelled, and the effects that your injuries have had on your close family relationships.
Take Notes Throughout the Claim Process
As your claim progresses, continue to keep track of new developments by taking notes after any conversations with your insurance company, medical care providers, witnesses to the incident, and anyone else with whom you discuss important aspects of your case. Write down each person's name and contact information, the date and place of the conversation, and as much as you can remember about what was said.
During your first meeting with us after any accident or injury, we will first want to hear about what happened, and we will collect a variety of information from you. The length of the initial interview can vary depending on the circumstances that led to your injuries. In rather straightforward cases like car accidents, the first meeting probably won't take very long, especially if you come prepared.
As you tell us about your accident we may ask questions about it. While some of these questions may be difficult to hear, let alone answer, we need to know the answers in order to help you find the best solution for your case. We will collect a variety of information relating to your accident or injury, including facts about your medical treatment, others involved in the accident, potential witnesses, and more. We will also discuss practical aspects of your case, such as a representation agreement, different types of legal fees, and the kinds of costs you can expect in your case.
Here is an idea of what you can expect during your first meeting with us:
- We may ask you to sign a form authorizing the release of your medical information from health care providers, so that he or she can obtain your medical records on your behalf
- We will want to know about all your insurance coverage.
- We will ask if you have talked to any insurance adjustors and if so, what you have said and whether you provided a recorded or written statement about the accident or injury.
- We will ask if anyone else has interviewed you about the accident or your injuries, and if so, with whom you spoke and the details of what was discussed.
- We will ask about the current status of your injuries.
- We may advise you to see your doctor if you have any lingering physical problems or complaints. If you don't see your doctor and later decide to pursue a legal claim for your injuries, the defendant may argue that you aren't seriously hurt, on the theory that no doctor visit indicates no medical problems.
- We may decide to consider your case, and to contact you shortly after the meeting to discuss your legal options. This is a common practice in injury cases, so you should not read anything into it.
- In some cases, we may decline to take your case. We may do this for many reasons, such as his or her current caseload, capabilities or specialties, economic situation, or family responsibilities. You also may learn that in our opinion, you do not have much of a case. While this is valuable information, and it is better to get such an opinion early, you should by all means seek a second opinion from another attorney.
- We may refer you to another attorney. This happens when we cannot take your case for any number of reasons, or when we think that another attorney can do a better job under the circumstances.
- If we do take your case, we will ask you to sign a retainer contract or other form of agreement for representation. Read the contract carefully and ask questions before you sign it. You should be able to take the contract home to study it before signing.
- We will tell you what the next steps are. There may be a factual investigation before a lawsuit is filed or settlement is considered, and we may be able to give you a rough estimate of how long it will take to resolve the case.
Myser & Davies
320 Howard Street