1. Discover the Source of Your Injury and How it Occurred.
The source will differ depending on the type of injury you received.
o For vehicle collisions, the source may be a flat tire, the other driver, black ice, etc. Be sure to write down the other driver's contact and insurance information.
o For dog bites, make sure to identify the dog that bit you as well as its owner. Owner information may be on the dog collar license. Identifying the correct dog is important because it will provide your doctor on vital information on any diseases the dog may have been carrying such as rabies.
o If you slipped and fell, inspect the surrounding area to see if there was a cause for your fall such as water on the floor or an obstructed walking path.
2. Seek Medical Attention
Even if you do not feel your injuries are serious, you should still visit the doctor. For certain types of injuries, you may not feel the full effects of the injury until several days later.
o If you slipped and fell, do not hurriedly get up to attempt to avoid embarrassment. Instead, take your time making sure your injuries are not severe asking for help up if needed.
o If you received a dog bite, immediately clean out the wound and seek out medical care. If you were bitten on the face, make sure to insist on seeing a plastic surgeon instead of an ER doctor.
o If you were in a vehicle collision, be checked out by a physician requesting to see a specialist for whiplash.
o If the injury was severe enough that you are unable to return to work right away, ask your doctor to give you a medical leave certificate.
o Make sure to follow all of your doctor's instructions and schedule follow up visits.
3. Collect Documentation of the Injury
o Photographs are an important part of the documentation process. They capture the essence of the moment and provide proof of the extent of the damage or hazard. If you are wounded, you will want to take many pictures of your injury especially at each point of the process.
o Reports are an important way to document the facts of your case. If you have been in a vehicle collision, do NOT leave the scene without a police report on the incident. For all forms, reports, letters, medical leave certificates and medical records, make sure to keep a copy for your records.
o While the events of the injury are fresh on your mind, you should write down what happened. In this journal, keep track of all damages you incur and proof of the damages. For example, if you missed work, note the amount of days and the loss wages and keep proof of your wages and normal work hours.
4. Identify Witnesses
At the time of your injury, look around for potential witnesses. If you see anyone, collect their contact information. Even if a witness did not actually see the injury occur, he or she may be able to give account as to the environmental conditions directly before or after the injury.
5. What to Avoid
o Never sign anything from the insurance company or the owner of the property either causing your injury or where your injury occurred.
o Never discuss money with the insurance company or property owner especially in the context of settlement, loss wages, or medical expenses.
o In the event of a vehicle collision, Never drive away from the collision scene without a report and do Not admit fault.
o Do Not wait too long because you may have limited time to file your claim.
o Getting all you are entitled to from a personal injury can be complicated, so it is not recommended to try to settle the matter on your own. Instead, consult an attorney as soon as possible!