Personal injuries can happen for a number of reasons and if you have been involved in an incident, you need to file a claim. This can help to ensure that you receive the compensation you need from the person who caused the accident or their insurance company. This money can be critical for paying for medical costs, covering any lost salary on days where you can’t work following the accident, and for repairing or replacing your vehicle. The process of filing a claim can be quite complicated, especially if you haven’t had to do it before.
To help everyone who has been hurt in an accident, here is how to properly file a personal injury claim.
The most important thing you need to do after being hurt in an accident is always to seek immediate medical attention. Many people assume that because they don’t notice any symptoms or pain straight after the accident, they don’t need to go for a checkup. Shock or adrenaline can easily hide the injuries, however, and while you don’t feel any pain in that moment, the symptoms can appear in the following days, weeks or months. Therefore, it is very important for your health that you go to the hospital as soon as possible.
Furthermore, if you don’t go for medical treatment, it could have a negative effect on your compensation claim. The other party’s attorneys or insurance company may say that your injuries clearly can’t be that bad if you didn’t even go for medical treatment. Make sure that you explain what happened to the doctor so he can include it in your medical report. This can then be used as evidence.
There are incidents which you may be able to settle alone such as if you only had a minor car crash and no one was injured. With any accident where there were injuries or serious vehicle damage, however, it is always advisable to hire an expert attorney to help you. Bringing in one or more personal injury lawyers will help to unload the burden of the claim to someone who knows what they are doing. Your lawyers will be able to give you the time and space you need to heal and recover, while they take care of everything else. Even minor personal injury claims can end up being very complex and so it is better to save your time and energy and hire expert legal assistance.
Once you have a lawyer in place, they can then set up the personal injury claim for you. This will usually involve notifying the responsible party and their insurance company that you are planning to file a claim against them. This may result in them offering you an out-of-court settlement to get the matter over and done with quickly. Your attorney will be able to advise you about how much money you are likely to get if the case goes to court so you can decide what is a fair offer. There may not be the right settlement offered at this point but they may come back with a better offer later.
If the case is going to court or you want to put pressure on the other side, your attorneys will need to gather evidence to prove your claim is genuine. This will include the original police accident report, witness statements, vehicle repair or replacement invoices, ongoing medical bills, evidence from the scene of the accident such as CCTV footage, and anything else that can help you. Start keeping track of every expense from the moment you were injured and this will ensure that you are able to claim it all back.
If your evidence is strong, you may be able to try again to negotiate a settlement with the other side. The insurance company or legal advisors of the responsible party may realize at this point that they could be liable for a sizable payout if it goes to court so they will want to settle the matter as quickly and cheaply as possible. If this is the case, consider what you are willing to take to cover your costs and save you the hassle of having to take the claim to court. There is always some amount of compromise which needs to be made for an out-of-court settlement but make sure you are comfortable with a number before you agree to it.
If no settlement can be agreed then you will need to file a lawsuit to get the compensation you require. This will need to be done within a certain amount of time passing after the day of the incident. The statute of limitations on personal injury claims varies state to state but your attorney will be able to advise you on the timeframe available to you wherever you live. If you miss the deadline then you will not be able to file a claim and the other side will have no incentive to offer a settlement.
Your attorney will be able to file the lawsuit on your behalf to give you the best chance of getting the money you are entitled to. The process can be lengthy and quite complicated but it basically goes like this:
You file a written complaint for the damages you are seeking compensation for and how much money you want.
Information is exchanged during litigation. You will often need to testify under oath about your injuries so that you can use the recorded deposition in court.
The trial begins and evidence is presented. The jury weighs the arguments and decides which party’s evidence they believe.
If the jury finds in your favor, either they or the judge or jury will decide how much compensation you should be awarded. It will usually be the jury who awards the final compensation unless your case is a “bench trial” in which case it will be the judge.
Personal injury claims can be lengthy, stressful affairs so it is always advisable to seek legal help to make it easier on yourself. Most personal injury lawyers charge no fee unless your claim is successful so you don’t need to worry about costs. Follow these seven steps and you will be able to get the compensation you need to move forward following a personal injury.
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