When you hire a personal injury lawyer, you become part of a team. Naturally, you are relying upon your attorney to use his or her skill and experience to carry the load, but you can and should participate in your case and here are a few simple things you can do to make your case better and help your lawyer fight for you.
Always Be Truthful
Don’t be tempted to lie to your lawyer. For example, in the misguided idea that you need to “strengthen” your case before they’ll take it on or to increase your chances of winning. If, or rather when, the truth comes out later on, it could destroy your credibility and that of your case. More immediately, not telling the truth to your lawyer means it’s much harder for him or her to give you a realistic assessment of your chances of winning a case. In turn, you can’t make an informed decision about how to proceed. Just put the facts on the table for your lawyer and let him or her advocate and argue over those facts with the insurance company—it’s what lawyers do!
Take Notes And Photographs
Incidents leading to personal injury are often traumatic and it’s understandable that you may go on to “block out” some elements or you may simply forget details over time. Write down as much information as possible, preferably while you are at the scene if that won’t interfere with urgent medical treatment. In particular, get information of any potential witnesses. And, take pictures. You probably have a phone with a camera so use it. People often take photographs of their vehicles when they are in an accident, but they forget to photograph their injuries. Photograph all of your injuries and do so multiple times as you heal. By the time your case gets to a jury, you may have completely healed and appear fine, so it is very helpful to show them visual evidence of what you went through.
The time you spend with your personal injury lawyer is valuable for both of you. To get the most out of the interaction, you need to make sure every question you have is answered, bringing you peace of mind and giving you the information you need to make decisions about your case. Don’t ever be worried to ask what feels like a silly question or admit you haven’t understood something. A good lawyer will always want to be certain you have all the facts and feel confident about what happens next.
Don’t simply answer questions and then keep silent the rest of the time. Make sure to give any details you think might be important to your case—and any detail where you aren’t sure if it’s relevant. Also, give as much information as possible during any medical examiner so there is a complete picture of your injuries and pain. Always mention any symptoms and effects even if you aren’t certain they resulted from the incident: a medical professional is much better placed than you to figure out cause and effect.
Discuss Pre-Existing Conditions
You need to tell your lawyer about the general state of your health and any conditions or injuries that were in place before the incident that led to your potential claim. This issues will come up during your case, so your lawyer needs to know what’s coming and be ready to fight off any attempts to deflect responsibility. Also, you must mention if you had any condition or injury that was worsened by the incident rather than caused by it. The defendant can still be held responsible for the effects of the incident in this scenario, but your lawyer needs to be able to show exactly what harm the incident caused rather than risk it being dismissed as pre-existing.
Mention Emotional and Psychological Effects, Not Just Physical Harm
When we use the term “personal injury,” many people naturally picture physical damage and its visible effects. However, injury can cover mental health as well as physical health, with the potential for financial damages and compensation. If somebody else’s negligence leads to an incident that causes you ongoing psychological trauma, anxiety or depression, you may have a claim. These emotional and psychological injuries almost always accompany serious physical injury. A good personal injury lawyer will understand these issue and the ways in which expert assessment can boost a claim. So, don’t be afraid to detail the invisible effects an incident caused.
We hope you’ve spotted the common theme to this advice, namely that a personal injury lawyer can best argue your case when they have all the facts to hand, leaving you confident you have the best chance of success. At Friedman, Domiano & Smith we work with our clients as a team and we look forward to helping you.