Here in Southern California, if you are injured because another person was negligent, you are entitled under this state’s laws to complete compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages and lost earnings capacity, pain, suffering, and more.

If you have been injured in southern California because someone else was negligent, and if your injury is not work-related, you can probably seek damages with a personal injury lawsuit.

IF YOU’VE BEEN INJURED BY NEGLIGENCE, WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS?

If you can prove that you were in fact injured and that someone else’s negligence is the reason why, you have the right to be reimbursed for your medical bills, your lost wages, and your other injury-related costs and losses.

Injury victims who have been injured by negligence should schedule a consultation immediately with a personal injury attorney. A first consultation is free, so it will cost you nothing as an injury victim to learn more about your rights.

A first legal consultation is nothing to be nervous about. Typically, a first consultation is a simple, casual conversation with your prospective accident attorney.

WHAT HAPPENS AT A FIRST LEGAL CONSULTATION?

You’ll tell the attorney how your accident happened, how badly you were injured, who you believe should be held accountable, and exactly what you are hoping to accomplish with a legal action.

Even with the help of a skilled personal injury attorney, the main person responsible for compiling the evidence about your injury will be you.

Why? Because some of the most important evidence in a personal injury case is available only at the accident scene, and you must gather it right then and there, with no lawyer to advise you.

You must also make absolutely certain that the evidence of your accident and injury is safely preserved. Without that evidence, you do not have a case.

You should bring to your first consultation any documents that will verify your injury claim and that will help your lawyer to develop a successful strategy on your behalf.

WHAT KINDS OF DOCUMENTS WILL YOU NEED?

Your attorney will basically need to see anything and everything that might be pertinent to your personal injury claim. This includes your health insurance policy, and if you were injured in a traffic collision, your auto insurance policy.

You will need any documents generated by the accident itself – your medical exam results, the police accident report (for traffic accidents), and any pertinent insurance paperwork.

And you will also need to bring your driver’s license or some comparable identification document to your first consultation.

Additionally, bring everything that you know about the person who injured you. If it was a traffic accident, you should have obtained the other driver’s name, address, license number, and information about that driver’s insurance company at the accident scene.

WHY IS IT IMPERATIVE TO TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS?

And whether you were injured in a traffic crash or in some other accident scenario, take plenty of photographs at the accident scene, and bring them to your first consultation. If there were eyewitnesses, try to get their contact information, and then share it with your attorney.

Photographs can provide conclusive evidence that can often make the difference in a personal injury case and lead to a quick, out-of-court settlement. The statements of neutral eyewitnesses can also be powerfully persuasive.

HOW IMPORTANT ARE THE DOCUMENTS RELATED TO YOUR ACCIDENT?

Here is a brief look at how important some of these documents can be in a personal injury case:

1. Police accident reports: The police will evaluate the scene of a traffic accident and write a detailed report. That report may or may not state that the other driver was negligent, but either way, it is important evidence in your case.

2. Other official reports: If you are injured on public or private property, most government agencies, schools and universities, corporations, and retail, restaurant, and hotel chains require an accident report to be completed whenever someone is injured.

3. Medical documents: Make and keep copies of the medical bills, test results, and any other healthcare documents you receive. These are key documents in personal injury cases because they specify precisely what your injuries are and the extent of those injuries.

4. Insurance documents: Along with the applicable policies, you should bring any recent insurance paperwork regarding your injury to your first consultation with your attorney.

After discussing your legal rights and options at your first consultation, if you choose to file a personal injury claim, your attorney will help you through the personal injury process.

HOW WILL YOUR PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER HELP?

Ask your personal injury lawyer if any other documents will be required. Your lawyer will explain what other documents (if any) are needed, will analyze every detail of your case, and will help you to understand exactly what you can expect as your case proceeds.

If you are even thinking about filing a personal injury claim after an accident, then you must keep all of your medical appointments. If you don’t, the other side’s attorney may suggest that you were not very seriously injured.

HOW SHOULD YOU DEAL WITH AN INSURANCE COMPANY AFTER AN INJURY?

After you’ve been injured, do not sign any insurance company documents or forms before consulting with your accident attorney. Do not make any statements regarding your accident or injury to an insurance company.

In many injury cases, an insurance adjuster may try to coax you into accepting a settlement that is far below the amount your claim is actually worth. Do not accept it.

In fact, let a good personal injury lawyer handle all of the negotiations with the insurance company on your behalf. Most personal injury cases are resolved out-of-court with no need for a trial.

Talk to a personal injury lawyer at once if your injury was caused by a vehicle or pedestrian accident, by a slip-and-fall accident on private property, or by any accident caused by some other person’s negligence in southern California.

If your injury case does go to trial – because no acceptable settlement has been offered – an experienced San Bernardino personal injury attorney will develop an appropriate legal strategy and will advocate aggressively for not only the compensation but also for the justice you deserve.