Personal Injury Checklist

How to Protect Yourself if You are Injured:

Physical evidence and the recollections of witnesses and involved parties are crucial both for establishing the liability of the negligent parties as well as for proving the nature, extent and causation of injuries.

In resolving personal injury lawsuits in Sacramento, those in which this critical evidence has been preserved are almost invariably easier to settle and to settle at full value. If the claim proceeds to trial, this evidence becomes even more critical as the basis of proof of liability and damages.

Once an experienced attorney takes on a personal injury claim, the attorney will promptly assign staff members and/or professional investigators to collect all the evidence that may be relevant to the claim. The earlier this is done, the better off the case will be. And if the injured person has already begun on his/her own to put this information together, this will get them an even earlier jump on the process.

Since the nature of many pieces of evidence may not be immediately obvious to the non-attorney (and since even an experienced attorney will use checklists to avoid forgetting important items), we've provided the following lists to help you protect yourself from having crucial evidence lost or destroyed. Since every case is unique, these lists can't include every type of evidence possible.

Rather, these are intended to describe the most common pieces of evidence needed for successful resolution of a personal injury claim. Collecting as much of this evidence as early on as you can will give both you and any attorney whom you may retain a significant head start on resolving your claim promptly and at full value.



Automobile Accident/Motorcycle/Pedestrian Accident Checklist

After the insurance and driver's license information has been exchanged, most laypeople have the misunderstanding that evidence gathering and preservation from a Sacramento car accident has concluded. This, however, is not the case. Here are some tips that you can use to ensure that you have maximized your potential for recovery through evidence preservation.

License Plate Information

  • Following an accident, the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself is to copy down the license plate number of the other vehicle involved.
  • Sometimes the person driving the car does not own the car. You may think that you have protected yourself by obtaining the driver's license information of the other driver, but this is often not sufficient. By writing down both the driver's information and the license plate of the vehicle, you have worked to more thoroughly protect yourself and ensure that you have obtained all the information that you might need in the event of litigation.
  • If a police officer has come to the accident scene, be sure to ask if a report of the accident will be prepared and where and when it will be available. If the officer does not intend to prepare a report, be sure to request the officer's name and badge number for later contact.

Photographs

  • Take pictures of your vehicle as soon as possible. Take pictures from all angles, not just the damaged portions.
  • If possible, take pictures of the other vehicle(s) involved in the accident.
  • Take pictures of the surrounding area to preserve the way it looked at the time of accident.
  • Take pictures of the surrounding location and roadway for any physical damage, skid marks, or debris.
  • If you or someone in your vehicle sustained a visible injury: i.e, bruise, cut, scrape, or stitches, take photograph(s) of the injury to preserve the state of the injury at the time of the injury.
  • Feel free to take as many photographs of what you think may, no matter how trivial, be important to the accident. Your attorney will decide what is and what is not important.
  • If you were a pedestrian, take photos of the crosswalk or the location where you crossed at street or where you were standing, walking, jogging, at the time of your accident.

Statements of Witness(es)

  • Take the name, address and telephone number of any potential witness and save this information someplace where it will not be lost.
  • Return to the accident scene, visit any nearby homes or business for any potential witness(es) to the accident.
  • Revisit the scene of the accident several times at the same time at which the accident took place. Some people may have a habit of visiting, stopping, driving, etc, by the location of the accident as part of their normal daily routine. You may able to find a witness.
  • If you have obtained witness information, do not contact or speak to the witness(es) again. Do not try to solicit a written statement and/or drawing from the witness. Let your attorney contact any possible witness(es).

Property Damage

  • After taking photographs of your damaged vehicle, take the vehicle for a repair estimate as soon as possible. You are not obligated to use a repair facility recommended by an insurance company to have repairs done, but it generally won't hurt to get estimates from recommended garages.
  • Obtain written and dated repair estimates from a minimum of two repair facilities, at least one of which you selected without insurance company suggestion.


Slip and Fall Accident Checklist

Once the shock and embarrassment of falling down is over, leaving the scene as quickly as possible may not serve you very well. If you are fortunate enough not to need ambulance transportation from the scene, many people simply believe that filling out an accident report is enough. Often, however, reliance upon this type of limited information allows crucial evidence to become lost forever. Here are some tips that you can use to ensure that you have maximized your potential for recovery through evidence preservation.

Photographs

  • Take pictures of location where you fell, especially the floor surface, as soon as possible to capture the condition at the time of your fall.
  • If possible, take photographs of the condition of your clothing and shoes immediately following the accident.
  • Take photographs of any mats, rugs, or slip prevention fabrics at the location, if the location of the accident had any of the above. If the location of the accident fails to have any of these fabrics or any other type, take photographs illustrating the potential lack of the safety items.
  • Take photographs of any warning signs that might be in the area of the location of the accident.
  • If you sustained a visible injury: i.e, bruise, cut, scrape or stitches, take photograph(s) of the injury to preserve the state of the injury at the time of the injury.
  • Feel free to take as many photographs of what you think may, no matter how trivial, be important to the accident. Your attorney will decide what is and what is not important.

Statements of Witness(es)

  • Take the name, address and telephone number of any potential witness and save this information someplace where it will not be lost.
  • Return to the accident scene, visit any nearby homes or business, if applicable, for any potential witness(es) to the accident.
  • Revisit the scene of the accident several times at the same time at which the accident took place. Some people may have a habit of stopping or driving by the location of the accident as part of their normal day. You may able to find a witness.
  • If you have obtained witness information, do not contact or speak to the witness(es) again or attempt to get any written statements from them. Let your attorney contact any possible witness(es).

Physical Evidence

  • Most importantly, save the shoes that you were wearing at the time you slipped and fell. Place them inside a plastic garbage bag and tape it shut so that any materials stuck to the shoes will remain.
  • Store all of the articles of clothing that you were wearing at the time of the accident in a plastic bag in a safe place where they will not be lost. Do not wash them.
  • If possible, do not leave the scene of the accident without obtaining a copy of the accident report that the manager, owner, employee or other person has filled out while in your presence.
  • If the item that you slipped on is non-perishable, save a sample in safe place where it will not be lost.
  • If the item is perishable:i.e. vegetable, or fruit, try to preserve the item in a liquid chemical preservative or in a freezer.


Dog Bite or Animal Attack Checklist

A dog attack or cat attack is a traumatic event, especially when it involves small, young children. Seeking out a medical examination to make sure that you or your family member has not been infected with any disease would be one of the first things you should do. Beyond a medical examination for your safety, there are several things that you can also do to preserve crucial evidence in the unfortunate event that litigation might be needed. Here are some tips that you can use to ensure that you have maximized your potential for recovery through evidence preservation.

Identification of Animal

  • One of the most important things that you might want to do is to obtain the name and address of the owner of the dog, if possible.
  • If possible, obtain the dog license information.
  • Ask if a report on the incident has been filed with an animal control agency or other public agency.

Statements of Witness(es)

  • Take the name, address and telephone number of any potential witness and save this information someplace where it will not be lost.
  • Return to the incident scene, visit any nearby homes or businesses, if applicable, for any potential witness(es) to the incident.
  • Revisit the scene of the incident several times at the same time at which the attack took place. Some people may have a habit of stopping or driving by the location of the incident as part of their normal daily routine. You may be able to find a witness.
  • If you have obtained witness information, do not contact or speak to the witness(es) again. Let your attorney contact any possible witness(es).

Photographs

  • Take pictures of the location where you were bitten by the animal.
  • If possible, take photographs of the condition of your clothing in the area where you were bitten.
  • If you sustained a visible injury: i.e, bruise, cut, scrape or stitches, take photograph(s) of the injury to preserve the state of the injury at the time of the injury.
  • Feel free to take as many photographs of what you think may, no matter how trivial, be important to the accident. Your attorney will decide what is and what is not important.


Burn Accident Checklist

Burning yourself is actually a fairly common experience. Most people have touched a hot stove or a lit match and experienced the pain of burning skin. Sometimes we burn ourselves, other times we are burned by someone else or as a result of their actions. Many non-lawyers have no idea what they can do to help themselves following a burn accident. Crucial evidence that you could use to help yourself, due to the nature of the incident (like burning wood, for example) disappears never to be seen again. Here are some tips that you can use to ensure that you have maximized your potential for recovery through evidence preservation.

Photographs

  • Take pictures of location where your accident occurred, as soon as possible, to capture the condition at the time that you were injured.
  • If possible, take photographs of the condition of your clothing and shoes immediately following the accident.
  • Take photographs of any warning signs that might be in the area of the location of the accident.
  • If you sustained a visible injury, take photograph(s) of the injury to preserve the state of the injury at the time of the injury.
  • Feel free to take as many photographs of what you think may, no matter how trivial, be important to the accident. Your attorney will decide what is and what is not important.

Statements of Witness(es)

  • Take the name, address and telephone number of any potential witness and save this information someplace where it will not be lost.
  • Return to the accident scene, visit any nearby homes or business, if applicable, for any potential witness(es) to the accident.
  • Revisit the scene of the accident several times at the same time at which the accident took place. Some people may have a habit of stopping or driving by the location of the accident as part of their normal daily routine. You may able to find a witness.
  • If you have obtained witness information, do not contact or speak to the witness(es) again. Let your attorney contact any possible witness(es).
  • Try to determine if a report on the incident has been prepared and request a copy.
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