At Stangl Law, we understand the devastating impact personal injury can have on someone's life. We also realize what steps are important for you to take in order to help get the results you deserve.
Besides the stress of the accident or event, victims can also suffer medical, emotional, and financial burdens. While it can be difficult during this time to shift your focus from the trauma of your experience to a checklist of actions, it is in your best interest to do so as soon as you're capable.
Taking these actions as quickly as possible is important in ensuring you have appropriate assistance and evidence is preserved. The following steps can serve as a tremendous help to you in handling your personal injury case.
Step 1: Make Sure Everyone Is Okay
After any accident, always check to see if anyone was injured or requires medical attention. If needed, call 911 as soon as possible.
If you or someone in your party requires medical treatment, be sure to be very thorough when informing doctors and nurses of any pain, discomfort, or other complaint in detail. Also, be sure to follow all instructions from your health care providers; this could include taking prescription medication, limiting your physical activity, and so on.
Step 2: Report the Accident
Whether your injury was the result of a traffic accident or other event, it is important to contact law enforcement right away.
The police will determine and document what happened in an accident report, which will become part of the evidence of your case. They should also help ensure emergency medical services are contacted if they haven't already been requested.
Step 3: Count to Ten
You have just been through a stressful event. It's natural to feel the urge to start talking about what happened during this tumultuous time—but RESIST. You might start talking to ease the situation and end up apologizing or taking responsibility for the injury as a reflex when, in fact, you weren't at fault.
Insurance companies will be very interested in anything you say in determining whether or not you should receive any compensation and, if so, how much. As a result, you must be careful not to discuss blame with anyone at the scene.
Instead, focus on simply exchanging names and phone numbers with the individuals involved and witnesses. If this was a traffic accident, also exchange insurance information, but do not discuss details of your insurance or your coverage limits.
Later, you will also want to avoid discussing your case with a claims representative since they can use what you say against you, having a negative effect on your result. Only discuss your case with a competent attorney.
Step 4: Gather Evidence
Evidence is very important to have in pursuing a personal injury case in Wisconsin. It is needed to help determine the cause and fault of the incident, and help in establishing the extent and financial costs of your injuries or damage incurred.
Evidence can be anything relevant to the event and could include a variety of things: tangible objects, such as an obstruction in the roadway; descriptions by you and/or witnesses of the actions of the responsible individual, object(s), situation or conditions; and photographs or recordings of the environment, road conditions, vehicles involved, traffic lights, etc.
Identify WitnessesBefore you leave the scene of the accident or event, talk to witnesses to hear their accounts of what happened and ask for their contact information. If you are not able to do this yourself, ask someone to do this for you.
If no one is available to do so, your attorney can request the accident report later, but this method does rely on what law enforcement chooses to document in describing the accident for their purposes. Keep in mind, this report is also limited to witnesses the police chose or had time to interview, and will not necessarily be focused on supporting your case.
Take PhotographsAs soon as you are able, it is important to begin documenting your experience. If you are able to do so at the scene of the accident or event, take photographs any way you can. In taking photographs, be sure to capture different angles, including those giving your viewpoint when the injury happened. Include photographs of an obstacle, obstruction or defect in existence that may have caused the event or the damage, as well as any physical evidence as a result of the accident (i.e., a dent in the vehicle or physical injury).
Try to photograph the environment to give an idea of any contributing conditions due to adverse weather, surface or structural defects, obstructions to visibility, etc. You may need to return the next day or the same day the following week if contributing factors were dependent on time of day or particular traffic patterns.
If you are not able to take photographs immediately following the event (due to hospitalization, etc.), contact your attorney.
If you are able to return quickly to the scene of the accident, bring a friend, family member or attorney with you. Do not go alone, as you will want someone to serve as your witness who can write, sign and date a statement supporting their observation of your actions to give further authenticity to your photographs.
DocumentWrite down everything you can remember about the accident. Any detail: time of day, weather conditions, obstructions, as events around you can all be significant. Write down anything you recall and continue to do so in the days ahead, as it is common to forget details in the stress of the moment. In cases of traumatic brain injury, memory loss surrounding the actual event is common.
Include statements you overheard witnesses make surrounding the event or comments made afterwards regarding your physical or mental state.
Continue to document how the accident or injury has impacted you physically, personally, and emotionally due to pain and suffering, and how it may have interrupted your lifestyle and daily routine.
It is also important to start keeping track of any financial costs or losses you incur as a result of your injury. Medical expenses, rental car, lost wages, days of work missed, etc.
If it seems relevant and you are able to preserve it in some way, try to do so. It is better to have an over-abundance of evidence to support your position than not enough.
Step 5: Contact an Experienced and Knowledgeable Attorney
After any accident or attack in which you or a loved one were hurt or injured, contact an attorney who specializes in personal injury cases. An experienced attorney can help make sure you aren't missing any steps.
The above checklist is a useful and can help in building your case for the courts and for your insurance agency, but it is no substitute for legal advice from an experienced attorney regarding your specific case.
Free Personal Injury Case Evaluation
If you need help regarding a personal injury or have questions about another legal matter, contact experienced Wisconsin law firm, Stangl Law Offices, S.C. immediately for a FREE no-obligation consultation.
You can also click here for a free consultation with Wisconsin Attorney, Pat Stangl, serving clients across the state, including (but not limited to) Greater Madison, Eau Claire, Rice Lake, and Hayward.