GET IT IN WRITING!!! DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT!
“Get it in writing! Document, document, document!” Whether advising a client on a criminal defense matter, drafting and/or enforcing a contract, or dealing with a family or personal injury case, the advice is always the same. What you are doing or about to do, get it in writing and document everything! We live in a world where documenting, photographing, texting, and scanning couldn’t be easier. Conversations about child custody/support issues? Get it in writing. Agreements related to work on your house? Memorialize it in writing. Waiving writes in a criminal case? Consult an attorney first, but get it in writing. Best practice? Always get it in writing and document everything! Always keep documents. Purchase an affordable scanner and scan and store documents. ScanSnap scanners are affordable and dummy proof.
Here’s some other helpful things to consider:
1. Always get contact information of anyone you are dealing (phone number and address). Ask for a copy of a driver’s license when conducting business. Why? You want to show that the person you are dealing with is who they say they are. Get their contact information. Place of business.
2. If someone is doing work for you that should be licensed, verify their license. Ask to see their license.
3. Disputing something? Create a timeline of what you do, who you speak to, and any communications. Timelines keep thoughts organized.
4. When communicating with someone, particularly in contentious situations, do so in writing. Email. Text messaging. Get it in writing and store it. You want to have the date and time stamps of the messages. We live in a world where, text messaging may include social media messaging (such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.). Screen shot and save messages. There’s no excuse not to do this, particularly in “he said, she said” situations where someone may not “remember” things said at a later time.
5. Store your records. It is worth the money to get a hard drive and save all the documents, messages, and photos you take.
6. When possible, photograph! If you are in an accident, photograph property damage and possibly injuries. Someone breaks a window in a fight, photograph. There are even apps now that covert photographs to pdf documents. When possible, video as well!
When in doubt, get it in writing! Document, document, document. Remember, winning cases that are generally tried months, if not years later, requires evidence. And sometimes well documented evidence helps resolve cases without trial. Collect and store. Contact my office if you have questions or need assistance.
Franz N. Borghardt