What Your Lawyer Needs to Know About Your Motor Vehicle Accident
After an accident, it is important to know what questions to ask. These details will help your car accident attorney hit the ground running on your case. As you prepare for your initial consultation with an attorney, consider the following questions that your lawyer will ask.
Questions About the AccidentWhen, where, and how did the accident happen?
There is a lot of information your attorney will need after your car accident. If you or someone who was with you is able, take notes at the accident scene or as soon as possible after the crash. Jot down the location, details of the crash, a description of the crash scene, and any other observations that could help.
Notes and even drawings could be invaluable, and all the details matter: the time, the weather, traffic conditions - if it comes to mind, write it down. In addition, if the other driver admits fault, make a record of it, and try to get the responding officer to note it in the police report.
Questions About InjuriesWhat medical problems resulted from the accident?
Your attorney wants to know everything, and not just what has been diagnosed. Describe all obvious physical problems, from bruises and lacerations to fractures. Don't ignore problems that have not been addressed yet. If problems have cropped up since you last saw the doctor, tell the attorney.
Get it all on the record, and that includes seeking medical treatment. There are injuries ranging from back and internal damage to whiplash that aren't always immediately evident and sometimes go untreated for a long time. Has your physical condition changed to the extent that you expect long-term (even lifelong) negative consequences? Tell your lawyer, and don't ignore the emotional/psychological effects of the crash.
Questions About InsuranceWhat auto and medical insurance do you have?
Your attorney will need to know the specifics. In New York state, for instance, drivers must have liability insurance coverage of $25,000 for bodily injury to one person, $50,000 for bodily injury to all persons, and $10,000 for property damage. Also required in New York is "no-fault" coverage of $50,000. Here's your insurance information checklist:
o What are your policy's liability limits?
o Do you have supplementary uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, and if so, how much?
o Do you have the other driver's insurance information?
Questions About RecordsBefore heading to that initial consultation with your lawyer, you should know what documents to show your attorney after a motor vehicle accident. Here is the paperwork you will discuss during that first visit:
Police report: If you called the police after the crash, there will be a report. That report typically includes a diagram of the crash and the officer's observations. If you have not gotten a copy of the report, your lawyer can get it for you.
Auto insurance policy: Bring a copy if you have one.
Proof of insurance premium payment: Bring receipts or canceled checks, anything that proves your insurance payments were up to date.
Any notes you took or information you gathered at the scene or afterward: This could include the names, phone numbers, and addresses of other motorists involved or witnesses, particularly information indicating who was at fault.
Traffic tickets: If you were issued a traffic citation related to the accident, bring a copy. If the other driver was ticketed, let your attorney know.
Photographs: If you took pictures of injuries and property damage, bring them. A picture is worth far more than a thousand words in the courtroom. Sometimes the insurance company takes pictures, too, and those can be acquired.
Statements: Did the insurer(s) call for an accident statement from you? Let your attorney know if you have spoken with anyone about the crash.
Medical records: Your attorney will want to review the results of all physical and psychological examinations and details of all treatment. This includes all records, from CT scans and X-rays to diagnostic assessments of any kind.
Financial records: Pay records are needed to help establish how much money you have lost and need to recover. How much were you earning before the accident? How much were you earning after the accident? What other financial effects have you documented?