Proper Documentation Can Make the Difference in Your Accident Case
No one leaves the house in the morning with the expectation of being involved in a car accident. However, traffic collisions and other preventable accidents occur much more often than most North Carolina residents would like to believe. According to a fact sheet from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), nearly 1,200 fatal car accidents occurred in North Carolina in 2014 alone. Whether you are on the highway or have turned out of your driveway, car crashes can happen without warning. Although the aftermath of a serious accident can be disorienting, it is extremely important to take steps to document your injuries in order to help win your case.
From the moment an accident occurs, you should be sure to gather evidence that will assist your Shelby car accident lawyer in putting together the best possible legal claim for compensation from the at-fault party. From taking pictures of the scene of the accident mere moments after a collision to keeping electronic records of your visits to a physician for treatment and rehabilitative care, any and all evidence may be useful in pursuing damages. The following checklist items are essential steps to documenting your case.
- Use Your Smartphone to Take Photographs at the Scene: Taking photographs at the scene of the car accident can be one of the best ways to document evidence. Given that most drivers now use smartphones, nearly all injury victims will have a camera right at their fingertips. Take pictures of your own injuries, the damage to the vehicles (from multiple angles), and the roadways around where the accident took place. Although you might not realize it at the time, these pictures might be able to help your attorney prove that the other driver is lying about fault in the accident. In car accident cases, documenting the scene of the collision itself might help an accident reconstruction expert to prove your version of events. No matter how small an injury or damage to a vehicle might seem, document it.
- Take Notes About the Scene and Witnesses: In addition to photographs, you should also take notes of witness names and phone numbers, as well as anything at all that you remember about the accident. These can be helpful later on when you file a claim for compensation.
- Do Not Wait to Seek Medical Treatment: After you have been involved in an accident, do not wait to seek medical treatment. It can take days or weeks — and sometimes even months — for symptoms of car accident injuries to appear. Common injuries suffered in accidents include but are not limited to: whiplash, concussions, other traumatic brain injuries, neck injuries, back and spinal cord injuries, broken bones, and internal bleeding. As WebMD explains, “Internal bleeding is one of the most serious consequences of trauma.” It can require surgery and, if left untreated, can result in death.
- Retain Hardcopy and Electronic Records of Your Medical Care: Once you have visited a healthcare provider, you will want to keep records of everything related to your treatment. You may need to pay some costs out-of-pocket, while other medical visits will involve a copay. In short, keep all documents related to the costs of treating your car accident injuries, no matter how small the bill. In addition, retain copies of everything you receive from your insurance company, including questionnaires, benefit letters, and other documentation.
- Record the Day-to-Day Physical and Psychological Aftermath of the Accident: Although it might sound like a time-consuming activity, it is important to keep a daily diary related to your injuries. You should note the date, the time, and how you are currently feeling. Keep records of when you visit a hospital or another healthcare facility, and note any changes in your condition. In addition to the physical aspects of your injury, a diary can also provide documentation of your emotional or psychological injuries. Were you anxious all day thinking about your injuries or the accident itself? Note that in your journal. Did you have trouble sleeping? Write it down. Have others mentioned that you appear disoriented or slower than usual? Be sure to jot a note in your diary. Car accident injuries are not just physical. In fact, juries regularly award non-economic damages for pain and suffering resulting from another party’s negligence.
- Use Your Notes to Put Together an Accurate Summary of the Accident: Your injury lawyer might ask you to provide him or her with your own version of events surrounding the accident, or a timeline leading up to the crash. It is important to provide as detailed an account as you can while still being honest and accurate. If you took notes in the immediate aftermath of the collision, you can turn to these to help summarize the events surrounding the crash. And if you have been keeping a journal, you can refer back to your notes to put together an accurate timeline of the accident and its aftermath for your attorney.
- Make Sure to Update Your Car Accident Lawyer: Your car accident lawyer will advocate for your right to compensation throughout this difficult time. It is important to provide your attorney with all relevant documentation at the start of your case, and it is essential to update your lawyer each time you visit the doctor or receive any information from your insurance company. After a car accident, you will likely have hundreds of documents that may be relevant to your case, and perhaps even more. You should plan to share everything you have with your attorney, who can go through these materials to determine which documents will be the most helpful in winning your case. You should also remember that only your attorney — and not your insurance company — will advocate for your rights. Insurance companies are not on your side. Give you injury lawyer the best chance to help you win your case.
Contact an Experienced Shelby Car Accident Lawyer
At Teddy, Meekins & Talbert, P.L.L.C., we are dedicated to assisting Western North Carolina residents who have suffered injuries in accidents caused by someone else’s negligence. If you or someone you love suffered injuries in a serious auto accident due to someone else’s negligence, a car accident attorney in Cleveland County may be able to help you pursue compensation. Contact Teddy, Meekins & Talbert, P.L.L.C., today to learn more about the services we provide.
A native North Carolinian and a fourth-generation lawyer, Ralph W. Meekins literally had the desire to help those who are not able to help themselves as well as to be a practical life adviser to people in his blood.