If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence — whether it be at the doctor’s office, your workplace, or on the roads — you’ll want to consider filing a lawsuit.
Hiring a qualified, experienced lawyer is the best way to obtain full and fair compensation for your injuries. And at Keefe, Keefe & Unsell, personal injury lawyers in Belleville, IL, we work hard to make sure each client recovers the full extent of what they are owed. But did you know that there are certain things you can do on your own to help strengthen your case?
Here’s a quick list of tips that we regularly share with clients.
Following these recommendations will ensure your case avoids unnecessary hurdles and roadblocks. And it will help us do our job, which is to fight for your best interests.
Obtain proper medical care.
After a serious accident or error, the first thing you will want to do is seek proper medical care. This will not only help minimize your injuries, but can protect any claim you might have due to negligence or other failures.
Remember — to win money in a lawsuit, you need to prove you sustained damages. A medical record is essential for this, and the earlier you seek help from a qualified health professional, the better.
If medical malpractice is the cause of the injury, we’d advise switching health care providers as soon as possible. A second or third opinion, from an unbiased party, will help protect you from further harm and can start the process of building a record to show the initial care was in error.
In any of these scenarios, it is very important to stick with the treatment plan prescribed for your injury. This will minimize any argument that your own negligence or actions contributed to your damages.
Write it down.
A personal injury suit or medical malpractice claim can take years to resolve. In that time, memories may fade and specific details can be lost if they are not recorded somewhere. As your lawyers, we will track down all existing documentation that helps support your claim. But what about the things that don’t make it into the official record? There are certain intangibles, especially relative to your pain level and subjective experience, that aren’t always captured in a medical or legal file. But they could be if you think ahead. We recommend you document everything — relevant phone calls, day-to-day struggles, hours worked, etc. In our next blog post, we will talk more about one specific way of doing so, which is by keeping a pain journal. But for now, just remember that it is important to gather as much information as possible, as events are unfolding. It may end up helping your lawsuit.
A statute of limitations will govern how much time you have to make a claim. But well before that time period expires, you’ll want to start thinking about getting a lawyer on your side. Generally speaking, the sooner we can look at your case, the sooner we can start formulating a strategy and advising you on any number of fronts. But there are also specific reasons why it makes sense to file a lawsuit now versus six months from now. For one, time matters when it comes to preserving evidence. Did you know that some 911 calls are only kept for a year? Surveillance footage often has an even shorter retention period (sometimes only a week or two). Also, with the passage of time some witnesses may relocate, or memories may fade. Better to start the discovery process before that has a chance of happening. We may also face certain deadlines depending upon which legal path we pursue. We’d like to get a jumpstart on the case before that becomes an issue.
The key is to remember that from a legal perspective, it’s never too early to file a lawsuit.
Stay off social media.
We can’t stress this enough — do not, we repeat, do not post anything about your case or your injury on social media. In fact, we’d advise staying off of these platforms altogether, because it is so easy to make an innocent comment or post that can negatively affect your case. Remember — anything you post online has a potential to make its way to the defense. For example, say you were to post a picture of yourself playing basketball or chasing your kids through a park. A smart defense attorney might use that to argue your injury isn’t as severe as you say it is. Even positive posts, updating family and friends about your recovery or treatment plan, could be turned against you. So best to err on the safe side and refrain from sharing these things. This holds true no matter your privacy settings, and even after your lawsuit is resolved, especially if it is by way of a confidential settlement. It is important to remind your family and friends of this as well.
This should be common sense, but in case it isn’t, we will say it here — do not lie or embellish. As your lawyers, we need to be aware of the straight truth so that we can formulate the most effective plan for your lawsuit. If you do not tell us certain things now, we will surely find out later, and at that point in the game your case will undoubtedly be hurt as a result. Especially if the defense learns the information before we do. Some defendants and their insurance companies will even use surveillance to weed out fraudulent claims and/or defend their client. That is within their rights, and something you need to be aware of. Juries do not like liars. If you are caught in a lie, or even just embellishing, it will unquestionably reduce your chances of receiving proper compensation for your injury.
If you are considering filing a personal injury or wrongful death claim, it is essential to work with an attorney who is prepared to explain the law, help you sort out legal choices and make sound decisions. Call us today to talk more about your options and how we can help you.