There are certain steps that should be taken after an accident. These are the significant points to stress:
(1) Don’t discuss incident with other party or that party’s representative (usually an insurance company investigator):
Statements made at the time of or following the incident could be used against claimant as the case unfolds.
(2) Seek immediate medical attention:
Documentation of injuries is essential to recovery of damages; and procrastination in seeking necessary medical treatment can reduce the value of the claim.
Note that this advice should be given regardless of the apparent magnitude of the injuries.
It is the possibility of injury that should trigger a visit to the doctor.
(3) Memorialize sequence of events:
Claimant’s memory of the incident (what happened and how it occurred) tends to fade with the passage of time. Therefore, potential clients should be advised to make written notes … even before the first office interview.
(4) Take precautionary steps to preserve proof:
Affirmative steps must be taken from the very outset to assure that essential proof is neither lost, altered, nor destroyed.
(a) Tangible evidence:
Advise claimant not to tamper with any potential evidence of the accident. Make clear the need to preserve the proof… and be spec& in your instructions.
1) For example, in an automobile case, repair work should not be commenced until detailed photographs have been taken of the vehicle. Indeed, a professional photographer, who knows what pictures to take, ultimately should be sent to do the job.
2) Similarly, in any product liability case, be sure the product, or its vestiges, are retained.
3) If claimant is the victim of a dog bite, all torn clothing should be preserved intact.
4) And, in a slip-or trip-and-fall case, claimant’s shoes are important proof and should therefore be preserved (i.e., not worn, repaired or discarded until the claim is resolved).
(b) Evidence of injuries:
Also, do not overlook the fact that the injury itself is crucial evidence.
1) It is advisable to photograph all parts of the anatomy that reflect signs of injury before the healing process commences (and to date the photos accordingly). Valuable demonstrative evidence may be lost forever once claimant’s injury begins to heal.
2) In particular, whenever cosmetic surgery is scheduled (e.g., for burns, cuts or scars), instruct claimant to have photographs taken before and after the surgical procedure.