What is The Injury Victim’s Role in a Georgia Car Accident Lawsuit?
After you’ve suffered an injury in a car accident, many unfamiliar challenges await. Recovery from your injuries can involve lengthy medical treatment and multiple surgeries. You may need extensive rehabilitation to regain the ability to function as you did before your accident. Pain, loss of mobility, and the inability to work for an extended period add further stress to an already difficult time. If another driver’s recklessness or negligence caused your injuries, you might also find yourself dealing with lawyers and lawsuits for the first time.
When you retain an Alpharetta car accident attorney to pursue compensation for your injuries and losses, you expect he or she to take the leading role in the effort. After all, that’s why you hired them. While they will no doubt be leading the charge and spending a lot of time and energy fighting to get you the money you need and deserve, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have a role to play in your Georgia car accident lawsuit. In fact, you have several roles to play
In a car accident injury suit, you are not just an injury victim. You are a plaintiff and a party to a legal proceeding. You are a key witness who saw or experienced the events that are at the heart of the lawsuit, as well as a witness who can testify about the injuries you suffered and the impact it has had on your life. You are also the client in an attorney-client relationship; a connection that will play a critical role during the process.
Many car accidents happen suddenly and without any warning. That may mean you didn’t see exactly what happened in the seconds before a crash or have a full picture of your surroundings at the time of impact. The shock and trauma of the accident may also cloud your ability to immediately recall what occurred. But you still have plenty of information to convey to police and your attorney that can be critical evidence in your personal injury lawsuit.
Perhaps you know that you had a green light when you entered an intersection and were hit by the other driver. Maybe you saw a car driving erratically or speeding before it crashed into your vehicle, or you glanced in your rearview mirror and saw the driver on their cell phone right before they rear-ended you.
That is why it is important to try to take note – mentally or otherwise – of the circumstances, environment, and events surrounding your accident.
Gathering as much physical evidence and information as you can at the scene of your crash can provide your attorney with crucial pieces of the puzzle that he or she will need to build your case and strengthen your position in negotiations with the insurance company or at trial. Evidence deteriorates and memories fade, and you may lose access to witnesses who can testify if you don’t get their names and contact information. Take photos and preserve any physical material relevant to the accident and the scene. Provide everything you gather to your personal injury lawyer.
Of course, the most important thing you should do in the immediate aftermath of a car wreck is to get medical help. This is vital not only for your health and well-being but also because the medical records and recollections of your treating doctors can be irreplaceable pieces of evidence to prove the cause, extent, and impact of your claimed injuries.
As a witness, and as a party to the injury lawsuit, you will likely have to attend and testify at a deposition in your case, as will be true for other people who may have information about the accident, your injuries, or your medical treatment.
A deposition is a chance for the lawyers involved in a case to question a witness under oath before trial to learn what they know and what they would say if they were called to testify before a judge or jury. Deposition testimony can impact the likelihood of a settlement prior to trial, but it can also be used to call a witness’ credibility into question at trial if they testify differently in the courtroom than they did in the deposition (called “impeaching” a witness).
Your deposition will probably be held at the offices of one of the attorneys or in some other mutually agreed-upon location, like a hotel conference room. You and your attorney will be there along with the lawyers for each defendant and any other parties to the suit. The defendant or other parties may show up to listen to your testimony, but that is the exception rather than the rule in most injury cases.
A court reporter will also be at the deposition, swearing you in before your testimony and transcribing every word spoken by you and the attorneys. A videographer may also be there recording the deposition. It is essential to understand that you are testifying under oath and penalties of perjury in that law office or conference room just as if you were testifying in a courtroom in front of a judge and jury.
If the case goes to trial, you will again have to testify under oath, on the witness stand, where your own lawyer will question you, and you will be cross-examined by the defendant’s lawyer. Before your deposition and before your trial, your lawyer will help you prepare for your testimony and put you at ease.
In order to do the best possible job for you and give you the best chance of a successful outcome, your personal injury lawyer will need you to be completely open and honest about your accident and injuries. The attorney-client privilege protects everything you discuss with your attorney, so don’t hide anything, even if it’s information that you think could hurt your claim. It will come out at some point and could do more damage later than if you had addressed it head-on.
Additionally, you put your trust in your lawyer to know what they are doing. While you can and should always feel free to ask questions, and your attorney should always explain what is happening and why, you should also listen to them when they make suggestions or direct you to do (or not do) certain things.
Speak With an Alpharetta Car Accident Attorney at North Metro Litigators Today
While you indeed have many roles to play in your car accident lawsuit, the Alpharetta personal injury attorneys at North Metro Litigators will be taking the lead, standing by you every step of the way and fighting to get you the maximum amount of compensation available for your injuries and losses.
Call Hait & Kuhn today at (678) 944-0000 or contact us to arrange for your free initial consultation. We welcome the opportunity to serve you.