First steps in preparing a personal injury claim

You’ve just been injured due to someone else’s recklessness. Before delving into the complication of finding a lawyer and pressing charges, here are some time-sensitive steps you need to be aware of right away:

Gather evidence.

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:

  • 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.).
  • 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.
  • 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.
Act quickly.

You have a limited amount of time to file a personal injury claim. This timeframe is known as a statute of limitations. In Illinois and Missouri, the statute of limitations is two years for bodily harm, and five years for injuries to personal property. The 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.