If you’re involved in a personal injury case, it’s important that you bring plenty of documentation with you. Many people forget or lose track of everything they’re supposed to bring with them, and that can seriously damage their case.
There are nine essential documents you should ensure you have when going to court. Consider this a checklist of evidence you should gather when you’re trying to prove your case. If you’re not sure where to start to get your hands on these documents, then don’t be afraid to ask someone for help.
- Official Reports
These are reports that have been made by officials These include police reports, accident reconstruction reports (either made by your attorney or the police), private investigation reports, and recorded 911 calls. This is a great start to building your case, as these files are readily available on hand for you to collect. They’re considered public records, so there isn’t a lot of legal tape you have to go through to get the report of your own accident and hand it over to your personal injury attorney. However, these shouldn’t be the sole document you rely on to prove your case.
If the accident occurred on the property of a business, then an incident report may have been made as well. Be sure to get your hands on this too if there is one.
- Photo, Video, and/or Audio Evidence
If you’re able, take video and photos of the scene soon after it occurred. These will be an accurate representation of the scene, as well as provide other evidence. You can gather evidence about the conditions of the scene (was the road wet, was it foggy), the individuals who were at the scene (in case you require additional witness testimony), reveal what your injuries were at the time of the accident, and if there was damage to additional property. Not everyone’s memory is 100% accurate, but the photos can record some things you may have missed or cannot recall by the time you get to court.
Take pictures of your injuries as they heal as well to provide a timeline of how serious your injuries may have been.
- Statements and Notes
These include witness statements, statements of other victims that may have been involved in the accident, and your own journal/notes of the incident that you made while the memory was still fresh in your mind. Witness statements are essential for being an accurate recording of the incident at the time before they forget them, and prevents witnesses from changing their story later on.
Keep a journal of your recovery process and how you’re feeling each day, when your medical appointments are, and how well your injuries are healing.
Lastly, you may want to get the statement of an expert witness who can explain how the incident unfolded and reconstruct its details for the court.
- Medical Reports
If you were injured, it would be imperative that you visit a doctor. They can do a physical examination to assess your condition and provide notes that can be used in court. Include second opinions and specialists’ reports as well if they apply.
You should start collecting these reports from your very first appointment and continue throughout your treatment period under your doctor’s care. Include documents of your medical history if the incident exacerbated a certain condition or to explain why your recovery process may be taking longer than usual.
It doesn’t hurt to get the medical history of the other party as well to prove that they shouldn’t have been engaging in certain activity to begin with.
- History and Research
It’s time to dig into the past of the other party involved. If they were involved in similar incidents before, then that’s going to be valid evidence you want to bring up. It will display that the other party has a trend of being involved in certain kinds of incidents and it’s likely that they’re responsible for your current situation as well.
If there was any machinery involved in the accident, what its service history is. A faulty piece of machinery can be unreasonably dangerous, and the owner should have been aware of the fault to correct it beforehand. Without taking steps to fix it, the owner is more likely to be held liable.
- Physical Evidence
Bring the damaged clothes that you wore and any small items that were damaged during the incident. It may seem weird that you’re keeping torn and/or dirty clothes, but they will show the true extent of how serious the incident was. Soon after the incident, bag them up and keep them somewhere safe so that they won’t be tampered with.
Bring your insurance card, that of the other party, and documentation of any conversations that took place with insurance companies. Also, bring evidence of who your insurance provider is and any information on your current policy.
- Specific Work Forms
In the event that you’re seriously injured, it’s a good idea to bring evidence of your lost wages from having to miss work during your recovery process. Provide pay stubs, W2 information and any evidence that demonstrates what your earnings were before you were injured.
- Bills and Invoices
The biggest folder you’ll want to have is for medical bills, repair invoices, receipts of payments made, and estimates for repairs. This will provide how much you’ve actually lost and what you may be able to claim as compensation.
Keep records of any other payments you had to make while you were recovering from your injuries, such as hiring someone to do yard work or clean your house, gas receipts for going to medical appointments, and any special equipment you had to purchase (wheelchair, crutches, et cetera) as a result of your injuries.
You’re already going through enough after an incident, with medical bills and possibly pain. Make it easier on yourself by ensuring that you have all of these onhand when bringing a personal injury claim.