After a serious injury, no priority takes precedence over seeking medical care. Your health should be your top concern, but if possible, it’s also important to gather evidence at the scene to strengthen your subsequent claim. If you’re in need of legal advice or representation after a sudden accident or the death of a family member, contact our Santa Barbara personal injury attorneys for a free consultation. Our law firm provides personalized legal services with a focus on meticulous preparation. We approach each case as if we’re going to trial, even if we expect to reach an out-of-court settlement. This philosophy has resulted in more than $300,000,000 in financial awards for our clients. We can come to you if you’re unable to come to us. Dial 1-800-GO-HARRIS to speak with a member of our team in a free case review.
Cases Our Santa Barbara Personal Injury Attorneys Handle
- Car Accidents
- Bike Accidents
- Motorcycle Crashes
- 18-Wheeler Accidents
- Pedestrian Accidents
- Aircraft Accidents
- Turo Accidents
- Boat Accidents
- Slip and Falls
- Premises Liability
- Accidents Involving Rideshare Vehicles
- Scooter Injuries
- Burn Injuries
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Brain Injuries
- Bus Accidents
- Dog Bites
- Train Accidents
- Wrongful Death
- Other Personal Injuries
How Should I Prepare for My Initial Consultation with a Personal Injury Attorney?
If you’ve been severely hurt in a sudden accident, you probably have a lot on the line both financially and personally. From a financial standpoint, you may be facing the possibility of insurmountable debt and perhaps even bankruptcy if your claim is unsuccessful. On a personal level, the outcome of your case could affect the quality of the healthcare you receive. If you’ve suffered a permanent disability, a personal injury settlement may provide the funds needed to live a life of maximum independence by potentially paying for domestic help, home and vehicle modifications, and other necessary services. With so much on the line, you should do everything in your power to facilitate the proceedings and to increase the chances of recovering a fair settlement. While the outcome of your case is largely out of your control, there are steps you can take to help your Santa Barbara personal injury lawyer build your claim. For example, by taking the time to prepare for your free initial consultation, your attorney will have a strong starting point for the investigation. Adequate preparation may also help your lawyer identify the disputes that are most likely to arise and take the necessary steps to avoid or overcome them. You can prepare for the consultation by:
- Writing down What You Remember: Small details can make a huge difference when it comes to proving liability and damages. It’s not uncommon for a seemingly insignificant observation to have a major impact on how an attorney conducts the investigation. For example, if you noticed surveillance cameras in the area or you suspect a nearby business might have a CCTV camera system, make a note of such in your written description. You should also record the time, date, location, whether law enforcement attended the scene, a description of your injuries, and your statements and actions while at the scene.
- Compiling Evidence from the Scene: Come to your initial consultation prepared with any evidence you gathered at the scene. Your Santa Barbara personal injury attorney will be interested in any photographs you took of property damage and injuries, as well as statements you recorded from eyewitnesses.
- Gathering Medical Documents: Your attorney will need medical documentation to prove the kinds of injuries you sustained and to tie them to the accident. By showing that you received prompt medical attention, the insurer may be less likely to argue that you’ve failed to mitigate your damages.
- Compiling Receipts and Invoices: Any documentation you have of expenses related to your injury or accident may be used by your lawyer to prove damages.
- Printing out Relevant Insurance Policies: If you have medical payments coverage, collision coverage, uninsured motorist coverage, or another insurance policy that might pay benefits, bring those policies with you to the initial consultation.
- Gathering Financial Documents: Any income you lost can be included in the settlement calculations. If you haven’t yet been able to return to work, you may also be entitled to compensation for loss of future income.
- Printing Any Correspondence with the Opposing Party: Bring along any emails, text messages, or other correspondence you’ve had with the defendant or insurance company.
Can I Use Social Media While My Claim Is Pending?
In the aftermath of a serious accident, reaching out to friends and family on social media might seem like a reasonable thing to do. However, posts about your claim, injury, or the accident may be taken out of context by the insurance company and used to deny or reduce the value of your claim. You should deactivate your social media accounts until your case has been resolved. If this is not an option, here are a few steps you can take to prevent social media from harming your case:
- Switch to Private: From Instagram to Facebook, most social media platforms now let you switch your account to “private.” With this setting turned on, only you and your connections can see what you post. This can prevent the insurance adjuster from digging through your feed.
- Do Not Accept New Connection Requests: A new friend invite or follow request from an unknown person should be a cause for alarm. It isn’t unheard of for someone associated with the insurance company or defendant to try to connect with a plaintiff on social media so they have access to the plaintiff’s online content. You should ignore any requests from people whom you do not recognize until your case is resolved.
- Do Not Discuss Your Accident, Injury, or Case: Even if your account is set to private, it’s easy for someone in your circles to screenshot your posts and share them with another party. The defense may also be able to make a discovery request to gain access to your social media accounts. By discussing the details of your case, accident, or injury, you may give the opposing party ammunition to challenge your claim. You should also avoid posting about your social life or expenses.
- Do Not Post Photos of Yourself: Recovering from an injury can be a long and challenging process. While you may spend most of this time in pain, you might still have a few bright moments such as spending time with family or enjoying a day at the park. Unfortunately, any photos of you doing even basic activities could end up jeopardizing your claim. The defense may use such posts to assert that you are deviating from your doctor’s instruction to rest. You should refrain from publishing any photos of yourself until the conclusion of your case.
- Ask Your Friends Not to Tag You in Pictures: In a similar vein, you should request that friends and family no longer tag you in pictures online. Tagging you in photos could alert the insurance company of their existence, giving them the opportunity to take the pictures out of context to dispute your claim. Sites such as Facebook have settings that allow you to opt out of tagging altogether or confirm and deny tags as they are published.
If you have been active on social media since your injury, it’s important that you inform your Santa Barbara personal injury attorney of any posts you have made, pictures you have uploaded, and images you have been tagged in. Your lawyer can then provide you with guidance regarding whether those posts should be removed and how to prevent social media from harming your case throughout the proceedings.
What Mistakes Could Harm My Personal Injury Case?
From the outset, it may seem clear that another party was responsible for causing your injuries, but that sense of certainty could lead you to make costly mistakes that jeopardize your case. You can expect the insurance company to search for reasons to deny your claim or reduce your payout. Any missteps in the early stages of the proceedings could lead to disputes over liability, causation, the extent of your damages, and other aspects of your case. As a result, it is vital that you take steps to minimize the chances of facing disputes in the future. At Harris Personal Injury Lawyers, our attorneys can explain what you should do—and not do—to protect your case. Here are just a few mistakes you should avoid to improve the odds of winning a settlement or verdict:
- Putting off Your Legal Consultation: There are many kinds of evidence your Santa Barbara personal injury lawyer might use to build your claim. Often, this evidence is only available for a few days after an accident. Examples include dashcam footage, road markings, and surveillance recordings. Also, people who saw the incident take place may forget pertinent details. Strong evidence is the backbone of any successful tort claim, so it is important that your attorney is able to perform the investigation as soon as possible.
- Waiting Too Long to Seek Medical Treatment: It’s not uncommon for personal injury victims to delay seeking treatment. This is particularly common when the injuries have latent symptoms. Unfortunately, putting off the clinical assessment can lead to issues when it comes time to file your claim. For instance, the insurance adjuster might argue that you did not take sufficient steps to mitigate the damages, which could lead to the reduction of your financial award. The adjuster might also assert that your injuries were caused by something else or that they couldn’t be serious since immediate care was not necessary.
- Posting About Your Injury or the Accident Online: As we’ve already mentioned, your social media posts could be used as evidence to dispute your claim, so it is best that you stay off these websites until your case has been resolved.
- Providing a Recorded Statement: Do not give a recorded statement to the insurance company. You should let your attorney handle all such correspondence so you don’t say something that leads to a dispute.
- Ignoring Your Doctor’s Orders: Has your medical team advised you to take a few weeks off work? Will you have to rest for an extended period of time? Following these instructions can be incredibly challenging if your finances are already being stretched thin and you’re used to living an active lifestyle, but if you deviate from your doctor’s orders, your financial award may be reduced due to a failure to mitigate damages.
Discuss Your Claim with a Personal Injury Lawyer in Santa Barbara
At Harris Personal Injury Lawyers, we know what it takes to win substantial settlements and verdicts in personal injury and wrongful death cases. Our attorneys have represented more than 5,000 clients, so we’ve encountered and overcome just about every kind of complication that can arise during these proceedings. To discuss your case with a well-credentialed and highly experienced personal injury lawyer, call us today at 1-800-GO-HARRIS or send us a message for a free consultation.