First Steps in an Accident or Personal Injury Attorney Claim
The moments following a personal injury or accident can be confusing and overwhelming. The most important thing is to look after your health and stay safe in the aftermath. Once that is taken care of, here are some steps we tell clients to take to preserve rights to file a personal injury claim:
Gather Evidence of What Happened>> Collect evidence that shows who caused the accident as well as what damage was caused by the accident. Cell phone videos and photographs are very useful. Take photos from many angles, up close and zoomed away showing the damage details, injuries, stop signs and traffic lights if applicable, and all relevant details. If you can, take photos or videos of any other parties involved in the accident and their identifying information.
>> Write down exactly what happened with as much detail as you can remember. Include identifying information like names, license plates, descriptions.
>> Take notes of what others involved in the accident say.
>> Get the contact information of any witnesses who saw the accident and note what they saw.
>> File a police report if appropriate.
>> Tell whoever is responsible that you will file a claim for property damage and personal injuries.
Get Medical HelpIf you or someone you know has suffered a personal injury, the very first thing you do should after the accident is get medical treatment. Even if your injuries are not obvious, you should see a doctor because many injuries are not immediately apparent. Besides being the best for your health, getting medical attention quickly strengthens your personal injury claim. If you wait days or weeks after the accident to seek medical treatment, it is harder to prove your injuries were the result of the accident.
Certain types of injuries like neck injury or whiplash, soft tissue injury or brain injury symptoms may not appear for weeks after the accident. A competent doctor will be able to perform a thorough exam and properly diagnose your injuries and recommend the proper care and treatment. The doctor may also identify injuries you didn't know will be a problem and what recovery treatment and time frame to expect. Take detailed notes on your injuries and medical treatments, costs and doctor recommendations.
Contact a Personal Injury AttorneyOnce you or your loved ones have received the appropriate medical care, you should contact an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer like Chudnovsky Law. Our knowledgeable accident attorneys will advise whether you have a valid personal injury claim and guide you as to what steps you should be taking. A 1999 study by the Insurance Research Council found that the average person receives a settlement 3.5 times larger with legal assistance than without it. In a personal injury case, this can make a huge difference in your recovery.
Our injury attorneys will carefully analyze your case for free. We take personal injury cases on a contingency basis, so you never have to pay any fees unless you win.
Help Your Attorney Investigate the AccidentOur accident attorneys will carefully investigate your accident and develop the elements needed to prove your personal injury was caused by someone's wrongdoing or negligence. Depending on the case specifics, we may bring in investigators, accident reconstruction specialists, medical doctors and any other experts needed to analyze your injuries and the accident. Our injury lawyers then carefully document who was at fault, what happened and what the effect of the injuries will have on you and your loved ones.
Ask Your Lawyer What Kind of Compensation You Should ReceiveDepending on the type of injury or case, there are many items you may be due damage payments for. Some common damages include:
>> Medical expenses: Doctor costs, prescriptions, medical equipment, rehabilitation
>> Travel expenses to see doctors and specialists
>> Pain and suffering or emotional distress
>> In home care
>> Lost wages and benefits
>> Punitive damages to punish the defendant
>> Loss of consortium and companionship
What NOT To Do After An Accident!A) DO NOT ADMIT FAULT
People are often in shock and feel compelled to apologize for an accident when they are at the accident with the police or talking to the insurance company. For some people, this can be a reflex even when they know it isn't true. Admitting fault can seriously affect your ability to make a claim. Instead of just assuming the blame, work with the police to create an accurate police report with complete details of the accident and photographs. It is better to provide an honest description of what happened and let the police, insurance companies and your accident attorney determine fault.
B) DO NOT SETTLE YOUR CLAIM PREMATURELY
Due to the delayed nature of some injuries, it is best to complete your medical treatment for injuries and be fully healed before considering settling. Otherwise you could easily miss some expenses or symptoms and lose your right to fair compensation
C) DO NOT SIGN RELEASE FORMS PREMATURELY
Sometimes insurance companies put release of liability on checks they send out. Signing these forms could release your insurance company from responsibility for any future liability or payments
What is The Time Limit To File A Lawsuit For An Injury?The statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits varies by state. In California the statute of limitations against a company or an individual is 2 years per CA Civ. Proc. 335.1. Although, for a variety of reasons, injury cases can become harder to pursue the longer you wait from the injury to make a claim. In general, it is best to proceed diligently with a claim for best results. Your accident attorneys can advise you of your rights. If the statute of limitation expires you may give up the right to ever make a claim for your injuries.
If you are making an injury claim against a government agency, agent or employee, the statute of limitations is typically 30 days to 1 year depending on the entity, state and jurisdiction.
Additional resources provided by the author
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