According to the CDC, there were over 39 million visits to the doctor’s office for unintentional injuries in 2016 and over 29 million visits to the ER for unintentional injuries in 2017. If you are among the injured, you know that medical bills are oftentimes quite large.
What happens if your injury, unintentional as it may have been, was still the result of someone else’s negligence? If this is the case, you have grounds to file a personal injury claim.
The question is, what do you need to bring with you when you’re meeting with lawyers? The more documentation you can provide, the faster and better they can prepare for your case.
Read on to find out the 7 documents you should always have with you when discussing a personal injury claim with lawyers.
1. Reports from Law Enforcement
Did the police or fire department arrive on the scene of your injury? Did they make a report of everything they witnessed and were told? This isn’t always the case, so don’t worry if this didn’t happen.
However, if law enforcement did show up, you will need to request a copy of the report they made. The information found in these reports can help build your case and generate new leads for your lawyer to pursue.
2. Incident Reports
If your injury occurred in a business, there is probably an incident report in addition to (or instead of) the law enforcement report. Insured businesses typically operate under the protocol that in the event of an injury, strict documentation must be made.
You may be able to receive this report directly from the business. However, they may require you to go through their insurance company, instead. No matter what, they are obligated to share this information with you.
3. Pictures or Footage of the Scene
If there’s one thing all personal injury lawyers will tell you, it’s that you should always take thorough footage of the scene of the injury. Capturing the scene from as many angles as possible is best.
The reason for this is that it’s not always easy to prove negligence after the fact. For example, if you slip and fall on a wet floor in a store, you need to be able to prove both that the floor was wet and that there were no signs nearby to warn you of these unsafe conditions. Without footage, you have to rely heavily on witness testimony.
4. Statements from Witnesses
Gathering witness statements may be unfamiliar territory. If you are uncomfortable with retrieving those written or recorded statements yourself, ask your lawyer for assistance.
Ultimately, the goal is to find other people, preferably third party if possible, who can back up your claims. They need to have been there and be able to provide a clear account of what they saw. That way, you’re no longer fighting a strict you said-they said case.
5. Medical Records
The first step in a personal injury case is proving that one person’s negligence led to your injury. The next is establishing the extent of your injury in order to agree on the amount you are owed financially.
In order to establish the extent of your injuries, you will need to provide medical records pertaining to the case. This includes not just the records from your doctor but also any records from your physical therapist, psychiatrist, or any other medical professional involved in your treatment.
At some point, the defendant’s insurance agency will likely ask for evidence of injuries, as well. Note that if you’ve reached this point and have yet to hire a personal injury lawyer such as Slater & Zurz LLP, it’s time to do so. If you’re not careful, you may sign paperwork that entitles the insurance agency to your entire medical history, a maneuver that can hurt your case.
6. Insurance Information
It can be helpful to keep track of your own insurance information, especially if your insurance is helping to cover some of your current costs before you reach a settlement. (We recommend avoiding this route if possible because it can make settlement more complicated.)
However, what is most important to your lawyers is any information pertaining to the defendant’s insurance. This includes any correspondence you’ve had with this insurance agency before you hired your personal injury lawyer.
7. Medical Bills and Financial Statements
Finally, you need to bring your medical bills when meeting with lawyers about a personal injury claim. Personal injury settlements are designed to cover any medical bills you’ve had to pay out of pocket because of the accident in question. In some cases, this may also include the bills you’ve accrued from any related psychiatric treatment.
However, that’s not all. If your injury was bad enough to keep you out of work or limit your ability to work, you may be entitled to more.
Some personal injury claims result in compensation for lost income. You will need to bring things like pay stubs from before and after your injury in order to establish the cut in pay you’ve received.
Come Prepared When Meeting with Lawyers
One of the biggest misconceptions about personal injury claims is that they result in instant money. The truth is that personal injury claims can take months or even years to settle. That’s why it’s important to come prepared with the right documents when meeting with lawyers.
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