After being in an automotive accident it is a wise decision to hire an attorney to represent your case, this can ensure that you get fair treatment and the compensation you deserve. When first meeting with an attorney to discuss your case, it’s vital to provide them with as much information as possible. The more facts and documentation (evidence) the attorney has, the better the chances are that you will have a strong case. Here is a list of most of the important documents you should have prepared when getting ready to speak with an attorney. Keep in mind that they may require additional information, but this checklist below will provide you with a solid head start on the proceedings.
Your Insurance Policy: If you have automobile insurance your attorney will want to see a copy in order to review the extent of your coverage and see what kind of insurance compensation you may be entitled to. If you do not have your own copy your attorney will be able obtain one, with your permission.
Evidence of Premium Payments: Providing evidence of your insurance policy is important, but equally important is being able to prove that your insurance premiums are paid up to date! Periodically insurance companies will send a bill when each payment is due. Providing this correspondence as well as evidence of your payment (such as a cancelled check or receipt) will prove that your policy is up to date.
Information Exchanged at the Accident Scene: Often, names and telephone numbers are exchanged during an accident while talking with the other parties involved. Your attorney may need this information, even if you have already contacted them.
Information Provided by Police at the Accident Scene: Most of the time police are called to the scene of an accident. In these situations the police are required to make an accident report, which may even include a diagram of where the cars and/or pedestrians were at the time of the accident. Most importantly, the report will also include the on-scene officer’s initial impressions of the cause of the accident. This information is essential to helping the attorney understand the specifics of your case. Be ready to provide your attorney with the accident report and anything else written by the police. If you do not have a copy of these documents your attorney may be able to obtain one on your behalf.
Tickets Related to the Accident: If you have been given a ticket in relation to the accident, make sure you let your attorney know. For example, if you were given a ticket for “failure to yield” this information is very important to your case.
Photographs: If your car was damaged as a result of the accident and you were able to take pictures they will be helpful for your case (see Personal Injury Accidents: Preserve Evidence for more information). However, if you did not take pictures it’s okay, a representative of the insurance company may have. If you do have pictures provide your attorney with them. If you do not, but think the insurance company might, tell your attorney that information as well.
Statements: Occasionally after an accident you will be contacted by a representative of your insurance company who is looking to get a statement from you about the accident. If you were contacted you have a right to a copy of the statement you gave. If you have a copy, give it to your attorney. If you do not, let your attorney know that you spoke to an insurance representative so they can obtain a copy of it. It is important to note that generally you are not required to give the insurance company a statement, especially after securing an attorney to represent you. In any case, let your attorney know if you have been contacted by the insurance company.
Medical Records: If you have suffered injuries as a result of your accident, chances are that you saw a medical professional. If you have seen someone, your attorney will need copies of your medical records to determine the extent of your injuries and potential recovery time. Provide your attorney with any medical records you have. If you do not have any, provide your attorney with the name and address of any medical providers you have seen. Your attorney will be able to obtain your records on your behalf.
Psychological Records: If your accident caused emotional or mental damage for which you received psychological or psychiatric care, your attorney needs to know about this as well. Similar to medical records you should provide any psychological records or the name and address of any mental health providers you saw.
Pay Records: If you have been forced to miss work as a result of your accident you may be entitled to recover those lost wages. You will need to provide evidence of how much you earned before the accident and evidence of how much earned after the accident. Your attorney can use this evidence to calculate how much income you have lost because of your injuries in order to determine the amount of compensation.
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