You’ve just been injured due to someone else’s recklessness. You may not know the extent of your damages yet, and you may not even know if you’ll want to seek compensation down the line. Nonetheless, it’s important to take certain steps to help preserve your memory of the incident – and support you, if you decide to take legal action:
As soon as possible following an accident, gather any physical evidence that will be useful in supporting your case. Such evidence can include damaged clothing or equipment, photos and relevant documentation. It’s important to do this soon, while your memory of the incident is fresh and before the scene of the accident has changed. Here are a few examples of physical evidence worth collecting:
- Premises liability: If you tripped over an uneven patch of sidewalk, make sure you have photos that clearly outline the hazard area, ideally taken under the same conditions as when the injury occurred (same time of day, same weather, etc.).
- Medical malpractice: If you suffered burns as a result of an improper surgical procedure, immediately take photos of any visible injury to your body. See a doctor right away to assess the injury, and keep records of the evaluation.
- Defective product: If you were injured using your juicer, keep the appliance in the same condition as at the time of the accident. Also gather any instructions or warning labels that may add value to your case.
- Car accident: If a negligent driver T-boned you at an intersection, be sure to take pictures of the scene of the accident from different angles. Also gather statements and contact information from any witnesses.
If you’re thinking of filing a personal injury claim, you’ll want to meet with a lawyer early on to understand the strength of your case.
You have a limited amount of time to file a personal injury claim. This timeframe is known as a statute of limitations. In Illinois, the statute of limitations is two years for personal injuries, and five years for injuries to personal property. This time is normally calculated starting from when the injury occurred, but in some cases the stopwatch can start running later on – when the injury (or its cause) is first discovered.
Although the above steps may not be at the forefront of your mind when you initially suffer an injury, they can prove to be extremely advantageous if you decide to pursue legal action further down the road.