As soon as the client leaves your office after the initial intake, it is usually best to send a preservation of evidence letter to the potential defendants. The letter should demand that the defendant “please retain any and all evidence and communications relating to this incident, specifically including, but not limited to the [name the instrument of injury] involved in [client’s name] injury, and any moving pictures or still images of the area in which the incident occurred.” If you face employment issues then visit a employment defense law firm.
- Preserving witness accounts
If there are witnesses to the fall or to the conditions of the location of the fall, they need to be located and interviewed immediately. Oftentimes it seems that there was no one at the scene that witnessed your client’s fall with the exception of the plaintiff. In those situations, there are still multiple “witnesses” that may be helpful to your case. Current employees of the defendant are usually not helpful to your case and often not accessible to you until you notice their deposition, but other witnesses may exist that you can interview after the intake. The best witnesses are often the emergency personnel that attended to your client’s injuries the day of the fall.
Request your client’s medical records immediately and identify who the para-medics were that treated your client on the day of the fall. While the emergency treatment report may not state in it that a slippery substance was on the floor while the first responders were there, you’ll often find upon interviewing the medical providers that they noticed and remembered something on the floor.
But, of course, if you do not interview them immediately they will forget about your client and the circumstances of his or her fall since they treat many patients in similar circumstances. Oftentimes, emergency room personnel can also attest to wet clothing on your client that would prove the floor was wet. For this reason, you should attempt to locate and interview “day of incident” medical providers as soon as possible,-Do not wait to depose them and ask them only about the damages portion of your case.
- Search public records
If your client fell on a sidewalk or at a public facility maintained by a city, county or state, you should send a Freedom of Information Act request to the appropriate public entity for information on your client’s fall and previous falls in the same location. You should also check applicable public records to see what past construction permits have been issued for the particular facility. You should also do a search for any previous lawsuits that have been filed against the entity in the local trial court.
Even conducting a Google or other Internet search on the potential defendant can be useful early in your case. It may be possible to find the company’s policies and procedures online through a simple search. There are also reviews available on the Internet through Yelp, Trip Advisor, and even the company’s own social networking page that might contain information about prior incidents.