How to Prepare for Your Personal Injury Claim
What to expect?
After you have retained me to represent you in a claim for personal injuries and damages, you, my staff and I will be working together as a team to put forth the strongest and most convincing case for you and to bring about a speedy and just resolution of your claim. Over the next weeks and months, a great deal of time and effort on both your part and ours will be necessary to accomplish these goals. The more information you can supply to me, as your attorney, the better I will be able to prepare your case for trial, to ask and obtain from you relevant information and to recover on your behalf an amount to compensate you sufficiently for your claim for damages.
Remember Facts and Details
I encourage you to do everything possible to remember any facts and details about the incident, any conversations you had with anyone concerning the incident and any statements you may have given to anyone in this regard. It is also important for you to give me the names of any witnesses who could testify either on your behalf or on behalf of the defendant about the incident and when, how and why it occurred. Similarly, it is important for you to give me the names and addresses of any potential witness who could testify about any injuries you claim to have suffered from the incident as well as any pain, discomfort or limitations that have resulted therefrom.
Keeping a Personal Journal
You also need to document your injuries as completely as possible. I encourage you to keep a personal injury journal, or diary, in which you should describe daily how you are feeling, what limitations you have on your activities, how much pain you are experiencing, where you are experiencing that pain, whether you are taking any medication or undergoing any treatment and how the injuries and/or pain have affected your lifestyle on each particular day. Your journal will help both of us during depositions and at trial to be as specific as possible about the kinds of damages and injuries you have suffered.
In preparing your case for trial, I may need to know some personal things about you, which you may initially consider to be private, irrelevant or immaterial to your claim for damages. The purpose in asking questions in this regard is not to invade your privacy, but to prepare your case thoroughly for trial. If there are any difficulties with your case, or there are points, which need further documentation or clarification, we should know about them as soon as possible to prepare your case adequately and effectively and to counter any possible defense counsel attacks. You must be candid with me about any prior problems you have had with the police, the courts or any other third party. You must also let me know whether you have experienced any prior injuries or have undergone any medical, psychiatric or counseling treatment in any regard, including alcohol or drug dependency treatment. Be assured that the defendant, or his attorneys and investigators, will obtain this information and will attempt to use it to their advantage at trial. Only if I know about it can we work together to prevent introduction of that evidence, if any such evidence exists, or to limit its use at trial.
You May Be Asked Questions
The defendant will also have the right to conduct discovery under our rules of procedure. In this regard, it is likely that the defendant will be sending interrogatories or questions to you, which will seek answers to a variety of facts concerning your personal background, the incident, any injuries you sustained and your claim for damages. The questionnaire which you have completed for me records much of this information already and will help both of us prepare appropriate answers to the defendant’s interrogatories.
The defendant may also want to take your deposition, which is a statement made under oath. At the deposition, you must be prepared to respond to certain questions about you, your injuries and your claim. The defendant’s attorney will ask these questions. I will be present along with a stenographer. You and I will prepare for this deposition testimony well in advance of trial and at the deposition, I will protect and guard your rights.
Additionally, because we have claimed both physical and psychological damages as a result of your personal injuries, the defendant may have a right, as allowed by rules of procedure, to have its own physician and psychologist/psychiatrist examine you at its own expense. If such a request is made, we will have an opportunity to review and question, if appropriate, the qualifications of the examining physicians, psychologists or psychiatrists and we will also have an absolute right to obtain any copies of evaluations and reports that result from such examinations.
Finally, as I have described previously, a great deal of mutual effort and cooperation will be necessary to ensure that we make a well prepared, well informed and persuasive presentation of your claim and that we move forward in an organized, efficient and positive manner to reach a prompt and fair resolution of your claims.
During the course of this case, you may from time to time wonder what conduct is expected of you. For example, many clients ask questions such as “Would it hurt my case if I returned to work?” or “Would it help my case if I refrained from doing certain kinds of activities?” You should refer these types of questions to your physician, who should guide you on all decisions on health related issues. If, however, you have any question whether a matter should be referred to your physician, please contact me and I win be happy to attempt to guide you.