When it comes to personal injury cases, I cannot stress the importance of photographs enough. Most people don't seem to understand why photographs are important when it comes to accident cases. The old adage holds true - a picture speaks a thousand words. This is extremely true when it comes to proving your accident case.
You're probably not going to have a camera with you at the time of the accident. However, many cell phones now have the ability to take decent pictures. Take pictures of the damage to your vehicle. However, don't forget to take pictures of the damage to all other vehicles involved in the accident. Also try to take pictures of the scene if you can. It is very important when he comes to convincing in insurance adjuster that your accident involved more than a minor bump.
If you take pictures with your cell phone, make sure you know how to get the photos off your cell phone. In many cases, you can email the photos to yourself and download them to your computer. You can also email them to your attorney or burn them onto a disc. When taking photographs, it's important to take photographs from every conceivable angle. Take pictures of the left side, the right side, from above, from below, from various distances, etc. Don't just take a close-up of the damage because that will not convey the entire story. Remember, in many cases you'll be trying to convince an insurance adjuster that this accident was more than minor. They will do everything they can to minimize your claims. You need to do the opposite - everything to maximize your claims. If the accident was major, you definitely want to document that fact using photographs.
Proving lost earnings is more difficult than you think. You can't recover for "speculative" lost earnings. This affects folks who get paid on commission because it's hard to show you were going to get paid when commission is, by its nature, a hit-or-miss proposition. However, when it comes to lost earnings, you have to show concrete losses. You have to show you were GOING TO GET PAID but did not BECAUSE OF THE ACCIDENT!
Also, it helps to get verification of inability to work from your doctor. If you are unable to work due to your accident, do not leave your doctor’s office without written verification of your working status from your doctor – in other words, get a “note” from your doctor! Claims for lost wages from work are dependent upon your doctor’s written verification of your work status. It is your responsibility to get this information from your physician. Oftentimes, the lawyer's office doesn't get notice of these. Without such notes from the doctor keeping you off work, your claim for wage loss, if any, will be severely hampered.
If you are going to allege lost wages, you also need verification from your employer of the dates missed and your rate of pay. If you are missing work due to the accident, your employer (the person offering verification) should know WHY you are missing work. They need to know it is accident-related. Provide your lawyer with the name/address/phone of the person who can assist with verification of your lost earnings. If your claim is significant, providing tax returns from the past 2 or 3 years is helpful to show the decline after the accident. Insurance companies often won’t pay for lost wages unless they have verification from your employer AND your doctor. Otherwise, they will simply assume you just decided to stay home, eat ice cream, and watch Seinfeld re-runs. They don't pay lost earnings because you are a nice person.
Call (661) 414-7100 if you have any questions or would like help with your personal injury case.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia, Saugus, Canyon Country, Newhall, Stevenson Ranch, Castaic and surrounding communities.