Skip to Main Content

First steps in a personal injury claim

When you’re injured in an accident, the most important thing is to look after your own health. Once you’ve started receiving any necessary care, you may want to consider if another party is responsible for your accident and if you can recover damages from them.

If you think you have a case against someone, here are some things to consider in the preliminary stages. There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong order in which to do these although some can be more time sensitive than others. 

Document the accident

Collect evidence that can point to who or what caused the accident. You can determine liability later, but it’s important to record this information before conditions change. 

Take photos of the site and collect eyewitness accounts. Note names and contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident.

Try to do this quickly. The conditions that caused your accident could potentially be fixed or removed after your injury, making it harder for you to prove your case. 

Also, try to get photos of your injuries. Visit a doctor to have those injuries recorded and assessed.

Keep records 

Record costs and collect receipts for any expenses incurred as a result of the injury. This could include medical costs or lost work and wages. This could extend to family members who incurred costs or missed work to care of you.

If you’re dealing with insurers, police, or doctors, take notes of every conversation relating to your case. Record names and job titles of those you speak to as well as times, dates, and any significant details of those conversations. 

Determine liability

Most personal injury lawsuits are based on a claim of negligence. This means the injury resulted from someone else’s careless or unsafe conduct. Negligence can take many forms, ranging from slipping on an icy sidewalk to medical malpractice. 

Determining whether someone was negligent can be a complex legal question. You should seek a legal opinion here. A personal injury lawsuit can be long and expensive process, so you don’t want to proceed without a solid claim.

Give notice of your intent 

Notify the parties involved that you intend to file a lawsuit. This doesn’t mean you have to file though; it can serve as a warning and may help lead to a faster, simpler, and cheaper resolution than proceeding through the courts.

Monitor your health 

It can sometimes take a while to realize the full extent of an injury. Keep in touch with your doctor so that your condition is well documented.

Don’t wait too long to file 

There are legal limits on the time period in which you can sue for personal injury. It’s often two years from the date of your accident or possible claim, but it can depend on the case and who you’re suing. There are other rules and limitations for lawsuits against governments.

Although it’s possible to file lawsuits yourself, it’s advisable to seek some legal advice along the way. Lawsuits can be complex and expensive — if you lose, you may have to pay the other side’s costs. Even if you win, enforcing a judgment can be difficult.