Your attorney's job is to advocate for your needs throughout the process of settling your personal injury claim, but he can't do this alone. To win your case, you and your attorney need to work together as a team.
Tell the Whole Story
For your personal injury attorney to effectively represent you, he needs to understand how the accident occurred. Thus, it’s important that you write down everything you can remember about the accident, striving to tell a story that your attorney can use as the basis of the case. Make sure your narrative includes the following details:
- The date and time of the accident
- The road you were traveling on
- The direction you were traveling in
- The moment you first noticed the other driver
- The actions the other driver took before the accident
- The response, if any, that you made
- The symptoms you experienced right after the accident
- The witnesses to the accident
As you're communicating with your attorney, remember that honesty is key. If you suspect you may have done something to contribute to the accident, discuss this issue with your attorney right away. Louisiana law allows at-fault drivers to collect compensation for damages they've suffered, although their ability to collect will be reduced by their percentage of fault. There is no specific formula for assigning percentage of fault, so your attorney may be able to negotiate a lower fault percentage and increase your eligibility for compensation if you're honest from the beginning.
Failing to wear your seatbelt doesn't make you an at-fault driver, so there's no need to lie about whether or not you were buckled up at the time of the collision. Additionally, it’s important not to exaggerate the severity of your symptoms or try to blame the other driver for symptoms related to a past injury. Medical records and expert testimony can sniff out these falsehoods, which means being untruthful is sure to backfire.
Personal injury lawsuits require a great deal of evidence and documentation. It’s important that you provide as much of the following as possible:
- Photos of the accident scene
- Hospital admitting charts
- Doctor notes
- Medical exam and test results
- Medications you had to take because of the accident
- Your own diary detailing your injury symptoms
- Pay stubs to document your lost wages
- Letters from your employer documenting your absence from work and/or ability to return to your current position
- Copies of correspondence with your own insurance company and the other driver's insurance company
If you assist your attorney in locating the necessary information and evidence, it will greatly speed up the process of settling your claim. Many people recommend purchasing an expanding file folder to keep track of necessary documents and a calendar where you can jot down the date, time, and name of anyone you've spoken to about your personal injury case.
If your lawyer contacts you requesting additional information, always respond as soon as possible. Louisiana personal injury claims must often proceed under tight deadlines. A delayed response could have serious consequences regarding your ability to obtain a fair settlement.
If you're having trouble locating the information your attorney has requested or are unable to respond right away, reach out to see if there is an alternative to make sure your case proceeds as scheduled.
While your case is pending, do not speak about your accident with friends, family, colleagues, or acquaintances. If you're not careful, even seemingly harmless speculation could be used as evidence against you.
It's best to stay silent until your personal injury settlement is resolved. If you're contacted by an insurance adjuster, refer him to your attorney.
There's no need to be intimidated by your attorney or the legal process involved in settling your claim. If you have questions about the way your case is being handled or want clarification on a specific issue, don't be afraid to speak up. Any skilled attorney will be happy to hear your input.
To learn more about how Neblett, Beard & Arsenault can help you resolve your personal injury claim, please complete our online contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of the firm’s experienced personal injury attorneys. You can also call us direct at 800.256.1050.