This article is part of our Anatomy of a Lawsuit series, where Attorney Travis Charles Smith provides accurate information about the legal process in Oklahoma. If you have questions about the process that are not covered in this article series, please send us your question by email and we will be happy to answer it.

Investigation of the Claim, and Preparing to file the Lawsuit

After I’ve been retained to handle the case, I then commence my investigation prior to filing the lawsuit. What I am doing here is gathering all (or as much as possible) of the evidence that I will need to prove the case. Doing this before filing the lawsuit eliminates additional delay that would occur if I conducted my investigation during the lawsuit.

Interviewing Witnesses: the most important part of any lawsuit

This is the best time to interview witnesses. When their memory is fresh and the subject of the case is still a recent event. This is where I need you, the client, to help me identify all potential witnesses. If you can arrange an introduction for me, that’s even better. I have no problem contacting witnesses, but they are much more likely to make arrangements to meet with me if you personally ask them, especially when the witnesses are your friends, family, acquaintances, and neighbors. Even doctors may be more likely to speak with your attorney if you personally ask them. Witnesses are the most important type of evidence in any trial, so let’s get to them as soon as possible!

Other parts of initial investigation are gathering all documents available that relate to the case. Let’s go ahead and gather every thing that doesn’t require a subpoena. If it’s an injury case, let’s get the medical records and medical bills. Let’s go ahead and get all your health insurance information so we can determine subrogation. If you are Medicare or Medicaid, we need to notify them and get a conditional payment letter. In a bad faith insurance case, let’s gather all correspondence from the insurance company.

The pre-suit investigation is complete when we have gathered all available documents, interviewed available witnesses, compiled a list of potential witnesses to be contacted during suit; we have outlined the story of what happened (our case) and how we intend to tell that story through evidence and witness testimony.

Now that we have an outline of our case, it’s time to file the lawsuit.