If you’ve ever been hurt by someone or for some other reason filed a lawsuit, you know how complicated the whole process is. For those who have never sued anyone, know that the process is a lot more than what’s shown on TV. Between conducting investigations, finding witnesses, going through depositions, filing the right paperwork — the list goes on and on — a mistake could easily be made.
So obviously, the most important step of any lawsuit is to make sure you have an attorney who actually knows what they’re doing, and won’t make those mistakes. But besides what work your lawyer is doing on your behalf, there are a lot of things you need to make sure you do (and don’t do) after you’re injured to make sure your lawsuit goes smoothly. While some of these steps are widely published on the Web, many of them aren’t well-known at all — but can be crucial to the success of your personal injury case. Keep these 7 secrets in mind during your lawsuit:
No matter how small, insignificant or embarrassing a detail is, you need to tell your attorney about it. These seemingly unimportant facts could turn out to be the cornerstone of your lawsuit. In addition, always remember that you are protected under attorney-client privilege. This means you can tell your attorney details that may seem self-incriminating without worrying about that information being shared with anyone else. Without a full set of information, your attorney can better represent you in and out of court.
After any kind of incident that could potentially cause injury, like a car wreck, you should seek medical attention — even if you don’t feel hurt. That way, you have a paper trail of medical treatment received, and the associated expenses. Further, if your doctor gives you recommendations, follow them. Otherwise, the person you’re suing could say you exacerbated your injuries by not listening to your doctor, and therefore they aren’t responsible.
Besides your attorney, no one really needs to know the details of your case. In fact, saying too much could completely jeopardize your lawsuit. Insurance companies will often try to trick you into making a recorded statement (which you don’t need to do). They may also keep an eye on your social media to see if you’re making contradictory statements. Be mindful of what you say, and if nothing else, defer to your attorney for their judgment.
There will be parts of the lawsuit process during which your attorney will need certain documents or other information from you. Make sure you keep all relevant documents (insurance information, medical records, police reports, personal notes from the incident, etc.) in a safe, easy-to-access location. Investing in a filing cabinet could a great move, as you may need to keep these records in order for a while.
A good attorney should be willing to always keep you updated on your case. If you ever feel like you’re out of the loop, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Even if the question seems insignificant, you deserve to know what’s going on. On the flip side, listen to your attorney. Their livelihood depends on winning your case; as such, they probably know what they’re doing. However, that doesn’t mean you should blindly trust your lawyer. If something seems off, ask about it.
Before you file your lawsuit, you should talk to multiple attorneys. Ask them what their process is, how they communicate, and other questions to give you an idea of whether you want to hire them. While this is often a pre-lawsuit task, you can also find a new attorney during the case. However, you should only do so if your attorney is seriously not doing their job. Switching lawyers in the middle of the game can set the process back a bit, and should be a last resort.
Remember that list of steps given at the beginning of the blog? Each of those take time. It may be months before your case is settled or sees the inside of a courtroom. During this time, keep up with your medical treatments to get as many medical bills documented as possible. You’ll also want to make sure you’re staying in contact with your attorney during this time so you know you’re taking the right steps toward receiving full compensation.
Though the legal system is a complicated one, most of the complexities are handled by your attorney on your behalf. Your most important job is to recover from your injury, and follow the steps above to make sure you don’t endanger your chances of getting the compensation you deserve.