When you suffer an injury your first thought is not who can I sue; or, it certainly should not be that thought. What most people think about are their injuries, how to obtain treatment and how to put their lives back together. As a result of attending to these essential things, valuable time is often lost in the event compensation is due from a negligent party for your injuries.
Whether you know you have a claim or whether you want to pursue a claim in the event you have one is not the only basis for seeking legal representation. The initial reason to timely seek legal representation is to preserve evidence, witness knowledge, and examine your legal rights. Attorneys can only advise clients what their legal rights are and make recommendations on whether and how to pursue those cases having merit. Ultimately, the decision to pursue a legal claim is solely yours.
If, however, too much time passes between the occurrence of an injury and the beginning of an investigation, evidence may be lost and the recollection of witnesses (including you) may grow dim. So, gathering facts can be crucial to preserving your legal rights.
If you are involved in any accident, there are some basic things you or someone on your behalf can do:
Obtain the names, addresses, e-mail addresses and telephone numbers of any witnesses;
- Obtain the name(s), addresses. E-mail addresses, and telephone numbers of anyone who may be responsible for your injuries. In an automobile accident, that may be the person who rear ended you, but if, for example, the other driver pulled out in front of you because “the bushes were blocking my view”, an additional potentially responsible party may be the property owner of the bushes.
- Record the type of vehicles; including the make, model, license tag number, and the type of damage to each vehicle.
- If your vehicle is inoperable, try to determine the location to which it is being towed.
- Take photographs. Nearly every cell telephone has the capacity to take basic photographs of the scene of any accident. In an automobile accident, photograph all the vehicles; photograph the damages to each vehicle; photograph the scene by standing out of traffic and shooting a series of pictures moving from the left to the right of the entire scene. Photograph skid marks.
- If you can, sketch the scene and include the relative location of vehicles when they ultimately came to rest.
- Obtain investigating officers names and telephone numbers.
Any time you are injured, the very first priority needs to be your injuries and getting them attended. Never place yourself in a position of peril in attempting to obtain evidence. If people are unwilling to volunteer information, do not try to force them. When an accident occurs, emotions are often high. Your goal, or someone acting on your behalf, is not to take the place of skilled police officers or investigators.
If you are unable to do any of this at the scene because you are injured, ask a friend, spouse, or other person to do it for you to the extent that is possible.
Call an attorney to determine your rights.