One of the most frustrating aspects of a personal injury lawsuit is that a lot of what happens after you file your lawsuit is out of your control.
Fortunately, there are 5 simple things you can do to ensure that your lawsuit gets started on the right foot.
If you’re involved in an accident, your instinct might be to discuss the accident on social media. If so, you’re certainly not alone.
One of the first things insurance companies and defense attorneys do when a claim is filed is search the plaintiff’s social media accounts for any posts that could be harmful to their case. What’s more, even private social media pages may be discoverable.
Let’s look at an example of how a social media post might hurt a personal injury case:
Jill files a personal injury lawsuit seeking damages for her injury. In the lawsuit, she claims that she’s no longer able to participate in the outdoor activities she used to enjoy as a result of her injury.
The lawyer for the defendant introduces the photograph of Jill hiking as evidence that she’s exaggerating her injury. Though Jill explains that she took the photograph a week prior to the accident, she has no proof of this and it’s now up to the jury to decide who to believe.
Rather than attempt to determine whether a post will harm your case, the safest course of action is to refrain from posting about your accident or injury altogether.
2. Seek medical treatment right away and listen to your doctor
It’s important to seek medical treatment after an accident for a couple of reasons.
First, your health should be your top priority. Some injuries, including serious internal injuries, don’t reveal symptoms until hours, days, and even weeks after the injury. Seeking medical treatment right away could save your life.
Second, plaintiffs have a duty to mitigate their damages. This means that a plaintiff must take all reasonable steps to prevent their injuries from becoming worse.
If you fail to seek medical treatment after an injury or fail to follow your doctor’s medical advice, the defendant will likely make the argument that you exacerbated your injury or lengthened your recovery time, and that your damages should be reduced accordingly.
3. Gather and organize any evidence you may have collected
Before meeting with a lawyer, gather any evidence you may have collected. Ideally, this will include:
- The contact information for any witnesses
- Photographs or videos of the accident scene
- Medical records
- Police reports
- Physical evidence recovered from the accident scene
Additionally, it’s important to keep track of all your medical records, as well as the impact your injury has had on your day-to-day life. Here are a couple of tools to help you do that:
4. Find a lawyer near you
Unless your accident was very minor, it’s probably a good idea to talk to an attorney. If you’re on the fence about hiring an attorney, you can always schedule a free initial consultation. Because personal injury attorneys generally work on a contingency fee basis (meaning they don’t get paid unless you get paid), they’ll tell you honestly whether you have a legitimate claim.
In preparation for your first meeting with an attorney, gather and organize the evidence you collected. Having this evidence on hand will allow you and the lawyer to make the most of your time together.
Keep in mind that the first meeting with a lawyer is an opportunity to find out if the lawyer is right for you. Personal injury lawsuits can last years and you don’t want to be stuck with the wrong attorney.
5. Take on the role of an ideal plaintiff
Personal injury attorneys love clients (and defense attorneys hate plaintiffs) who are:
- Respectful plaintiffs dress professionally, and they remain calm and polite even when stressed or agitated.
- Attentive plaintiffs listen to their attorneys and keep an open line of communication.
Plaintiffs who are respectful and attentive don’t hurt their chances of recovering damages. However, personal injury lawsuits are often lengthy and almost always stressful. Defense attorneys count on plaintiffs losing their cool or ignoring their lawyer at some point. Don’t let the defendant get the best (or worst) of you, take on the role of an ideal plaintiff from day one.