HANDLING YOUR CLAIM
Keep in mind that you are the only nonlawyer who is permitted to handle your case. Even though your cousin Bernie thinks he can represent you as well as any real lawyer, it is not allowed by the law. It is called the unauthorized practice of law. Bernie can give you all the off the record helpful hints he wants, but if you do not retain a licensed attorney, you must sign all of the official court documents yourself and you must appear in court yourself. In addition, if you are handling the claim yourself, you are responsible for gathering all the information you will need to reach a settlement. There are several things you need to do to get organized.
The Accident Events
Review Chapter 1 of my book, Winning Your Personal Injury Claim. The advice about the events that occur immediately after an accident apply whether you intend to retain a lawyer or not.
In auto accident cases, always obtain the police report. Here you have an advantage over people who are represented by attorneys. The police, especially big city police, often will more readily and more rapidly turn over their information to you, the accident victim, than they will to a lawyer. The police report is crucial because it contains the names, addresses, and phone numbers of witnesses, insurance information for the person who injured you, license numbers, a diagram of the accident, and many other important items.
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