Important Steps to take when Filing a Claim for Personal Injury
Getting hurt by someone else is never a situation that anyone wants to be in. Unfortunately, there are many laws revolving around protecting someone who has been injured and numerous guidelines that must be followed in obtaining the protection that is due to an injured person. Personal injury accidents can affect your life, monetary situations and overall happiness.
If you are potentially due a monetary settlement, it would make sense to seek out professionals who have dealt with these types of situations before, such as a competent personal injury attorney.
Types of personal injury accidents
There are many types of personal injury accidents, including the following:
- Premises liability (e.g. slip and fall)
- Animal attacks (e.g. dog attack)
- Product liability (e.g. the product breaks and causes injury during normal usage)
- Drug defect (e.g. carcinogenic ingredients)
- Medical malpractice (e.g. surgery-related negligence)
- Wrongful death (e.g. workplace negligence)
- Auto accidents (e.g. at fault)
- Pedestrian accidents (e.g. hit by bicycle, car, or motorcycle, etc.)
- Swimming pool accidents (e.g. drowning, injury)
- Assaults (e.g. personal assault)
- Nursing home abuse (e.g. neglect of patient)
- Trucking accidents (e.g. side-swiped)
These cases have different rules for establishing liability for a responsible party and may also have different timelines for filing a claim. For example, you have two years to bring a personal injury action in California, but a medical malpractice claim can be brought within three years of the date of the negligent act, or within one year if the injury should reasonably have been discovered earlier. Product liability suits can be brought within four years. There are even different rules depending on your age and mental competence.
Different filing procedures and timelines exist if a city or municipality is involved. Be sure to seek out the rules and regulations regarding your municipality to ensure that you stay within the guidelines. Your local county website and/or municipality can help direct you in these cases.
Proving Your Case
It can be a mistake if you attempt to handle your injury claim alone. Even in the simplest of accidents where liability may not be disputed, an insurance adjuster or defense attorney can easily raise certain defenses and allege that you may have contributed to the accident and that your injury was minimal or your treatment unreasonable, thus diminishing your claim’s value. There are certain steps that should be taken in ensuring that you are maximizing your potential for receiving the proper claim due.
For instance, after an accident people often feel that they do not need to see a doctor, even if their neck hurts just a little bit. The problem is, if your injury develops into something worse down the road and you did not have proper medical documentation of the incident along with either an accident report or a police report, then this greatly diminishes your chances of being successful in your claim.
Maximizing your chances for a successful claim
Be sure to do the following things to maximize your potential for being successful in your claim for the accident:
Get all of the other driver’s information immediately after the accident
Get their insurance card information, car registration information as well as their all of their license information along with the car make, model and year. If can get access to a copier, make a photocopy of all of this associated information in case you make a mistake in writing it down.
Take pictures of any damage to both vehicles after the accident.
Also take pictures of any injuries that have occurred due to the accident. Most of us have camera phones and can very easily take pictures to better document the event and any associated damage. If the personal injury is severe enough, be sure to call 911.
Call your insurance company and file a claim with them right away.
They will help you if any other requirements that might need to be taken.
Depending on the severity of the accident, call the police to report the accident.
If the police are not going to be called, be sure to go to the DMV and file an accident report. This will be critical if your case ever goes to court. If you do not have proper documentation of the accident, then it can be one person’s word against the other.
These are the steps that you can take immediately after an accident to improve the likelihood of you being successful in your case. From this, you can determine if utilizing a personal injury attorney will help you further.
The role of a personal injury attorney
In a personal injury claim, you have the burden of proving that the responsible party was negligent in causing your injury. For example, anyone who drives a motor vehicle has a duty to operate their care safely according to the existing conditions. The maker of a product similarly must design a product that is safe to use or issue detailed warnings about possible complications or risks that are reasonably foreseeable.
You must also establish a link between the negligent act and your injury, show that you were injured and offer evidence that your damages are reasonable and are related to the negligent conduct. This often requires a comprehensive investigation of your accident, obtaining of medical documents and other records, retaining of experts in certain specialties and filing of motions to force a party to release certain evidence.
You are also entitled to certain damages, including past and future wage loss, past and future medical costs, property damage, damages for lost working capacity and the need for rehabilitation as well as pain and suffering. The latter is determined by the nature and extent of your injuries, including any permanent disability and how the accident has affected your life. There are different damages that can be awarded in wrongful death cases. These include but are not limited to: driving while using a cell phone, drunk driving, death caused by work conditions or medical malpractice.
Although the majority of personal injury cases settle before trial, only a meticulously organized and professionally presented claim can convince an insurance company or defense attorney to resolve your case on satisfactory terms. Studies have shown that being represented by a competent attorney in personal injury cases overwhelmingly result in more compensation to the victim, even after taking attorney’s fees into account.
If you are in an accident, be sure to call and file a police report right away. This documents the accident report with the authorities, even if it is minor. Take as many pictures as you can as well. Also, make sure that you receive all of the other party’s license, registration and insurance information. Forgetting any of this will make it difficult for you to deal with adjusters down the road.
A personal injury can seriously affect your life. Trusting it to just anyone is not an option. Find and retain a California personal injury attorney whom you can trust to vigorously prosecute your injury claim and obtain the compensation you deserve.