Whether it’s a car or truck crash, animal attack, slip-and-fall, workplace injury or some other incident where you sustained an injury through someone else’s neglect, the aftermath of an accident is often chaotic and hazy. Although one would assume that experiencing or witnessing an accident would burn an indelible impression in your mind, research shows that memories can easily become distorted later down the line. The simple truth is that you can’t rely on your memory—or even the eyewitness accounts of bystanders—to accurately reconstruct an important event, especially an unexpected and traumatic one like an accident.
However, as a seasoned Dallas personal injury lawyer will tell you, “the devil is in the details.” It’s crucial to remember everything that happened at the accident scene should you decide to pursue a personal injury claim or a lawsuit, as these incidents can easily devolve into a “he said, she said” situation when it’s time to go up against the at-fault party. One of the best ways you can create an accurate account of events—and protect your right to fair compensation in the process—is to jot down everything you experienced before, during, and after your accident.
The tips below can prepare you in advance so you don’t have to try and figure out what to do in the heat of the moment while you’re under the influence of stress and adrenaline and can help you build your case in the weeks and months that follow your accident.
Organize Your Thoughts As Soon As Possible
Accident scenes are chaotic. Nonetheless, it’s essential to grab a pen and paper or your cell phone to take notes as soon as possible. A phone might work even better in this case, as you can use it to take pictures, videos, and record witness testimonies. If your injuries are not too extensive, try to begin before you leave the accident site and detail the events that led up to the accident, the accident itself, what happened to your body during the accident, and document any immediate injuries and impacts the accident has had on your life.
What Happened Before and After the Accident?
While you’ll want to take notes about the accident itself, it’s also important to document your day and the events that led up to the incident. Start with what you were doing, where you were going, where you were at, the people you were with, and the time and weather. Documenting the “before” is important for two reasons: it helps to establish a timeline and could aid you in developing your credibility. Adjusters might try to dig up their own evidence to pin some of the blame on you. For instance, if you were drinking or were involved in any other activity that would compromise your ability to act in a careful manner, they will likely try to use this to argue you had some role in the accident.
When you move onto the accident, detail everything you saw, heard and felt during and immediately following the accident. You should also make notes of remarks people involved in the incident made about the accident. For instance, if they say “I’m sorry, I swear I only took my eyes off the road for one second,” you’ll definitely want to take note of that. If it’s safe to do so, approach an eyewitness and gather their name, contact information, and a recorded statement of what they saw.
The more details you can provide, the more credibility you will have with the at-fault party’s insurance company and the attorneys investigating the accident, and the easier it will be for your Dallas personal injury lawyer to construct your claim.
Document Any Injuries And Their Effects (No Matter How Small)
Doctors and other health care personnel take copious notes about your symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment, but they don’t always capture everything . These records are valuable to your Dallas personal injury lawyer and your claim, but your own notes can be useful too. Keep a small notebook with you to jot down any symptoms you experience. Even if symptoms seem minor—like moments of dizziness, nausea, headaches, memory issues and body aches—they may all stem from your injuries. Also make notes concerning your sleep patterns, emotional, or behavioral changes in the weeks following the accident. For instance, if you used to sleep like a baby but now experience broken rest on a regular basis, this may be an important consideration for assessing your quality of life after the accident and can help your personal injury attorney calculate compensation for losses known as “pain and suffering.”
Even if you don’t think you’ve suffered from any injuries or if you think your injuries are too minor to warrant a doctor’s appointment, you should visit a healthcare provider anyway. Adrenaline can mask symptoms and many symptoms may not appear for hours, days or even weeks following an accident. Getting evaluated by a healthcare provider can help you determine if you’ve sustained any injuries that are invisible to the naked eye, such as internal bleeding, or if a minor injury has the potential to develop long-term consequences.
Make Note of How Your Life Has Changed
Along with medical injuries, you may have suffered economic or other losses. Were you forced to miss hours at work? Are you no longer able to participate in physical activities you once enjoyed? Have your injuries sidelined your plans to go back to school? Basically, this can consist of anything you would have enjoyed if the accident hadn’t prevented you from doing so and each of these losses may represent additional compensation in your claim. However, these losses are frequently difficult to quantify.
Spend a few moments contemplating how your life has changed since the accident and what you are no longer able to do. The more detailed your notes are, the easier it will be for your Dallas personal injury lawyer to begin attaching a financial amount to your loss.
Next Step: Bring Your Notes to Your Dallas Personal Injury Lawyer
Bring your notes about the accident and any other evidence you’ve collected to the initial consultation with your personal injury lawyer. This invaluable information you’ve gathered will help the attorney determine the strength of your case and help them calculate the full value of your injury claim, especially when it comes to difficult-to-quantify details, such as pain and suffering or reduced quality of life.
If you or a loved one has suffered harm because of someone else’s negligent or reckless behavior, the attorneys at The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare are here to help. With more than 20 years of experience helping victims recover after car, motorcycle and truck accidents, workplace injuries, slip-and-fall accidents, and more, our Dallas personal injury lawyers are experienced and ready to fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.