Getting injured can turn your life upside down and, depending on the severity of the injury, it can be a struggle to get back to normal. Protecting your legal rights is not usually the first thing you think of in the days following an injury. However, following some simple steps can save a substantial amount of time and effort if you later decide to sue someone for your injuries. FindLaw's First Steps After an Injury section provides information about what you should do after you have suffered an injury. In this section you can find articles about how to obtain and use a police report, what to expect during your first meeting with an attorney, and what type of evidence to collect depending on your injury.
If you were involved in an incident in which law enforcement was involved, such as a car accident, the police probably made a report of the incident. Generally, you are entitled to receive a copy of a police report, and it could come in handy for a personal injury case. For this reason, it's a good idea to make the effort to get a copy of the report. Depending on the rules of the police department, you may need to appear in person to pick up a copy of the report, or pay a fee for the copy.
The police report itself probably won't be admissible in a civil court proceeding. However, it can be help if/when you're negotiating a personal injury dispute. For example, during an informal settlement discussion with the opposing side, you or your attorney can use the facts and conclusions that are in the police report to gain an advantage in the negotiation. Some facts that could prove useful are the circumstances surrounding the incident, such as time of day, location, and weather conditions. Also possibly useful would be the preliminary assessment of fault, especially in a car accident. A police report can also provide contact information for any witnesses, and sometimes even witness statements about what happened.
How to Preserve Evidence
One of the best ways to preserve evidence of an incident and resulting injury is to take notes as soon as possible after the incident. Your notes should detail not only what happened in the incident, but also your injuries and how those injuries have affected your daily life. While taking notes is probably not a priority after a possibly traumatic experience, doing so can strengthen your position for a legal claim.
When detailing the incident, it's best to include what exactly happened before, during, and after the incident that led to your injury. These details should include time and place, weather conditions, if anyone else was present, anything that was said, and what you experienced and felt. It's also important to detail your injuries (both mental and physical), medical treatment you received, and any time you missed from work. You should also include any effects that your injuries have had on your close family relationships and any planned vacations that had to be postponed or cancelled.
Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or someone close to you has suffered an injury that you think might be the fault of another person or company, you may want to contact a local personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options. It's in your best interest to contact an attorney as soon as possible after your injury to avoid missing the time limit for filing your personal injury lawsuit.