Steps for boosting chances of successful PI claim
By AdvocateDaily.com Staff
In the first instalment of a two-part series, Toronto personal injury lawyer Andrew M. Lee discusses actions that personal injury claimants can take to boost their chance of a successful outcome.
Preserving and documenting any evidence at an accident scene could make a big difference down the road if there is a legal claim, says Toronto personal injury lawyer Andrew M. Lee.
Lee, the founder and principal of Lee and Associates Personal Injury Lawyers, says there are key steps personal injury claimants can take to boost their chances of a positive result.
“The first move is to take immediate action to preserve all the evidence,” he tells AdvocateDaily.com. "This is a legal case, and lawyers need evidence to win cases.”
If the other driver in the motor vehicle crash apologizes or references why the incident occurred, that should be noted as soon as possible. The claimant should also write down any irregularities, such as if the other driver was in the wrong lane or disobeyed the rules in some way.
Lee further suggests taking pictures to record any evidence. Photographs might include the accident scene, injuries, the vehicles and their positions shot from different angles along with images of the licence plates.
If it’s a slip and fall accident, Lee suggests photographing the scene and whatever it was that caused the accident.
“Pictures tell 1,000 words, so take plenty of pictures of the accident scene,” he says. “There’s only one opportunity to do that.
“All of this is invaluable evidence and it will not ever be seen again unless it is recorded.”
Victims should also make a point of talking to witnesses, finding out what they observed and taking down their names and phone numbers, Lee says.
Over time, memories fade and witnesses move on so getting that information up front and knowing how to later reach those who saw the accident could make a big difference to the case, he says.
“Preserving the evidence is key because at our firm we’re going to do a full liability investigation and we won’t leave any stone unturned,” says Lee. “Evidence wins cases and if claimants can provide as much as possible to the lawyers, we can do what we need to do to preserve, investigate and move towards a successful outcome on the liability issue.”
After the incident, Lee says it’s very important for the victim to attend all doctor and treatment appointments, as their notes will become part of the evidence. The medical professionals make clinical notes and develop records of what they observe, and that information will eventually be disclosed to the other driver’s insurance company as part of the claims process.
“These records can help or hurt the case. If they’re incomplete, they will help the other insurance company deny the claim,” he says. “For example, if the claimant has been injured, the expectation is they will see their doctor.
“If they’re not going, the records are going to reflect that, and that’s very damaging to the case.”
If the claimant can get better through treatment, but is simply not going, they’re demonstrating that they’re not trying to improve, and that will have a negative impact on their case, Lee says.
“But if the claimant is going to the doctor and treatment appointments regularly, that underscores the fact they’ve sustained an injury, and will provide the opposing side with less ammunition to deny it,” he says.
Claimants also need to tell their doctors about all of their complaints — the symptoms as well as impairments from head to toe, Lee explains.
“As part of the record, that will corroborate the complainant’s issues to the insurance company as well as the court, if it goes to trial,” he says.
Finally, Lee suggests it’s a really good idea to build a relationship with the doctor, who will be a critical witness in the case.
Stay tuned for part two in the series where Lee will offer tips on how claimants can get organized as early as possible following an accident.