The determination of who is at fault in civil tort claims is of the utmost importance to a badly wounded victim. This is especially so, when the evidence is not immediately clear. If you believe that a party or parties were at fault, it is important that you determine who it is, and put them on notice. Even before contacting your insurance company, many PI lawyers argue that you must make sure to let them know of the incident, your injuries, and your intention of filing a claim.
Different accidents have different ways of determining who could have caused the funds to pay you. When involved in a car accident, the obvious potential responsible party is the other driver or drivers. In this case, you would write a letter documenting the accident, how you were injured, and that you are going to file a claim. You will need to demand that the potential defendants preserve all documents, papers and things, like time sheets, pictures, cell phone and dispatch records, and so forth.
You will need to explain that if the case goes to trial, after you asked those things be preserved, but were not preserved, means that any evidence that is produced by a defendant “shall” be viewed with distrust and even disregarded (See also Evidence Code Section 412.) You will also notify the driver’s company if possible and your insurance company. Other cases that are not so cut and dry, like workplace injuries, will have other lines of determining who may be at fault, with some being relatively simple and others needing the expertise of a skilled attorney.
When you have figured who you believe to be at fault, you must craft the letter to send to them. Make sure that you keep copies of the letter for your own records and if possible get it notarized. By sending such a letter, the parties will be on notice. Your letter will just ‘state the facts’ and not blame any party for the incident. Your evidence or their admission will do that for you. Sending the letter registered, or certified mail, return receipt requested is definitely a good idea, even though the “Mailbox Rule” applies.
In the crucial hours and days after an accident, it is important not to dawdle. Don’t miss any statues of limitations of insurance filing deadlines. Send out the letters within several weeks of the accident and make sure to reach out to an attorney with experience in these claims. While you may not file a claim in court later on, an attorney can help guide you to know your legal rights in these cases.