Accidents can be devastating, leaving victims injured and faced with unexpected medical bills. Navigating the legal aspects of a personal injury claim can have people feeling hopelessly lost, on top of recovering from their injuries. There are steps you can take after a personal injury to help you prepare for filing a lawsuit or claim. These are the top tips for handling a personal injury claim:
1. Seek Medical Attention Immediately After the Accident.
Seeking medical attention is important after an injury, both for your personal wellbeing and the claim. Get care for your injuries with a medical professional before attempting to handle any claims you may wish to make. As the victim of the accident, it may fall on you to mitigate your losses by taking steps to prevent further injury or economic loss. Failing to seek proper medical attention after an injury may reduce the amount of damages you can recover.
2. File a Police Report
Filing a police report ensures you have a public record of important information about the accident. It may include names and contact information of other parties involved, as well as important facts about the event. It can be used in court if a lawsuit occurs. Some police departments will not send an officer to take a report unless someone is taken to the hospital. If this is the case, visit the police station yourself to make a counter report as soon as possible, while your version of the facts are still fresh.
3. Watch What You Say at the Accident Scene
Of course, you will be required to speak to the other parties involved in the accident, but be mindful of what you say. You have no responsibility to determine who is at fault or offer additional information. Avoid making statements that could complicate things, and avoid creating conflict. This also means you shouldn’t speak to insurance adjusters or allow your statement to be recorded by them without your attorney present. Insurance adjusters work to make sure the company pays the lowest amount possible on the claim. Your lawyer can help you navigate a conversation without hurting your case.
4. Don’t Sign Anything You Don’t Understand
It is important to make sure you completely understand any form or document you sign. If you are unsure, have your attorney look them over before signing. This remains important long after the event, if the document is still related to the accident. Forms that ask you to release the other party from liability or waive your right to a lawsuit should especially be looked over by your lawyer.
5. Keep Accurate Records of All Costs and Expenses of the Accident
This is not limited to medical bills or property damage. If the injury left you unable to work, you should record your lost wages. Create a written account of the event while the memory is sharp. You may also wish to maintain a diary of your experiences after the accident. Be sure to carefully record each activity you are unable to participate in because of the injury. Documenting all the losses you’ve experienced can make it easier to prove them in your claim or lawsuit, and ultimately easier to receive compensation.
6. Know Filing Deadlines
Be timely when filing your legal claim or lawsuit. For many claims, you have a certain amount of time after an accident to file with the courts. This is called the “statute of limitations,” and can vary between types of accidents.
7. Continue Medical Care and Follow-Up Appointments
Be sure to follow-up with your doctor about the care you received after the accident. Be diligent about following your doctor’s orders, whether it is taking prescribed medications, attending physical therapy, or seeking other treatment. Failure to do so can be used as evidence by the opposing party that you are faking your injury. Seek emergency medical treatment immediately after the accident, and follow up with a chiropractor, diagnostic treatment (such as MRIs, CT Scans, and x-rays.), and attention from medical specialists (including a psychiatrist, neurologist, or orthopedic surgeon). Seeking the full range of treatment allows you to prove your injury to the fullest extent, as well as receive the care needed to make a strong recovery.
8. Know Your Insurance Coverage
A personal injury attorney can help you understand your coverage. Many people have a no-fault medical coverage that either you or your lawyer can control. This can be used to manage payments to emergency services, provided you immediately send a letter to your insurance provider notifying them to send all medical payments to yourself or your lawyer to handle. Emergency services will make early claims and may take your entire medical payment coverage, so timeliness is important when contacting your insurance company regarding payments.
9. Avoid Trying to Settle on Your Own, but Familiarize Yourself with the Legal Process
It is unwise to attempt to settle a personal injury claim without the assistance of an attorney, but that doesn’t mean you should be completely in the dark about the legal process for filing. Research local laws and what the steps need to be taken in order to ease the process of talking to your lawyer.
10. Find the Right Lawyer
With a personal injury claim, it is important to make sure that your lawyer is experienced in personal injury and is well versed in the process of completing a claim. Take the time to determine which lawyer is best suited for your case.
Have you been injured in an accident? Our Waterbury personal injury attorneys at Fitzpatrick Mariano Santos Sousa P.C. have many years of experience fighting for the rights of injured victims. Contact us to discuss how we can help you get fair compensation for your losses.