Nothing is worse than dealing with the aftermath of a bad car accident. In addition to working through your own recovery, you might be forced to deal with unplanned expenses and calls from pushy insurance adjusters. To make things right, you might be thinking about working with a car accident attorney to file a lawsuit. Here are three things that you need to give to your lawyer, so that he or she can start shaping your case:
1: Accident Reports
When you file a personal injury lawsuit, you and your lawyer have the burden of proof. This means that you are responsible for showing that the other party was at fault. Fortunately, when it comes to proving fault, there aren't many documents more valuable than the accident report generated by the police officers who handled the scene.
Accident reports typically contain information about the orientation of the cars, the individuals who were driving, and the officer's opinion of what happened. Police officers might also indicate who received citations for the wreck, which can be helpful in court. For example, if you were hit by someone who was driving recklessly, the officer might include his or her opinion about how fast the other driver was traveling. Your lawyer could use this detail to prove that the other person knowingly broke the law, and that they should be liable for your injuries.
If you weren't given a copy of your accident report, contact your local police bureau. In some places, you might be able to download a PDF of your actual report online. For example, in New York, you can order your accident report for $15 after you pay a small $7 search fee. It might seem like an added expense, but this vital information could help your lawyer to prove your case.
2: Pictures of the Scene
It isn't always easy to explain the circumstances surrounding your accident, especially if there was more than one vehicle involved. You might find yourself tripping over the details, which could delegitimize your case. However, a few pictures of the scene could clear things up in a hurry. The insurance adjuster or judge might be able to see that complicated traffic pattern, or the median that your car landed on.
Before you meet with your lawyer, carefully collect any images you have of the accident. Talk with your family members to see if anyone snapped pictures of your wreck with their cell phone. After you track down images, do not alter them in any way. Don't adjust the color, crop the image, or change the filename. Adjusting photos could erase important metadata present in the file. Instead, email original copies of your photos directly to your attorney. When your lawyer has access to images taken from different vantage points, he or she can use that information in court.
3: Medical Bills and Records
The total amount of your final lawsuit settlement will be largely based on the total of your medical bills. Typically, most settlements equate to about three times the sum of your medical expenses. Because of this fact, it is crucial to keep all medical bills and records for your lawyer.
Keep all discharge papers, co-pay receipts, and doctor's notes. These documents can be used to prove that you followed medical advice, and that your condition is as serious as you are saying it is. If you can, think about keeping a medical journal. Starting with the day of your accident, write down how you are feeling and which doctors you worked with.
The more information you can give to your auto accident lawyer, the more rock-solid your case will be.