Suffering a personal injury isn’t just painful. It can send your world upside down into a tailspin. You know you want and deserve compensation for your injuries and damages. However, you aren’t sure what to expect from a personal injury claim, which makes you reluctant to start one.
The good news is that personal injury claims are typically more manageable than most people think. When you hire an experienced personal injury lawyer, they can handle nearly all the details and the process for you. This choice allows you the time and space to heal from your injuries and continue living your life as usual as possible.
If you or a loved one recently suffered a personal injury, don’t delay contacting a skilled personal injury attorney. The sooner you get legal help, the more options you will have, and the better you can protect your rights.
The Personal Injury Claims Process
Personal injury claims can take a while to resolve, particularly if you must litigate your claim to receive reasonable compensation rather than simply deal with an insurance company. Your personal injury attorney and the insurance company will likely take time negotiating to reach a settlement that satisfies all interested parties.
Even still, bringing a personal injury claim or litigation is relatively straightforward.
Here is what you can expect during the personal injury claims process.
You suffer a personal injury, such as those arising from:
- Premise liability
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Boating accidents
- Scooter accidents
- Defective products
- Dog bites or attacks
- Medical malpractice
- Slip and fall
You decide to contact a personal injury attorney for a no-obligation case review to determine if you have an eligible claim.
You meet with the lawyer and discuss the details of your injuries, the accident, and any evidence you might already have. If you and the attorney decide to go through with the case, they will ask you to sign a contract to retain their services and explain their fees. Most personal injury lawyers work on contingency fee arrangements. Under such an arrangement, you don’t owe them anything until they obtain compensation on your behalf. When that compensation arrives, they take a pre-set percentage as their fee.
Your lawyer investigates the circumstances surrounding your injury and gathers evidence from medical records, bills, and statements from witnesses and other involved parties. Your attorney may need your help getting some of this evidence. If you haven’t filed a claim with the appropriate insurance company already, your lawyer will do so for you.
Negotiations between your lawyer and the insurance company begin. This phase can require a lot of back and forth and may last for months. It may also involve meeting with a mediator. Your attorney will notify you of any settlement offers they receive on your behalf. You have the final say in whether to accept a settlement offer or not, though it’s in your best interest to listen to their advice.
Suppose the insurance company fails to present you with a reasonable settlement offer. In that case, your personal injury attorney will file a complaint in civil court on your behalf. The other party will file an answer, likely addressing each allegation in the legal complaint. They will do this by refuting or admitting to each allegation.
Attorneys for all parties will go through a legal process called “discovery,” which involves collecting and sharing evidence by the parties. Discovery also often requires depositions which involves bringing a party or potential witnesses in to answer questions in person under oath.
The parties can still negotiate a settlement at any time throughout this lengthy and complex process. The parties may use mediation or arbitration to help reach an agreement. If the parties still fail to settle the case, it will proceed to trial before a trier of fact a judge or jury.
The trier of fact will listen to each side’s arguments, evaluate the evidence presented, and decide who is liable for your injury. If they rule in your favor, they will determine how much compensation to award.
A lawsuit can take over a year to resolve, depending on the complexity of the factors in the claim. Many personal injury claims are straightforward for a skilled lawyer and can settle quickly; the vast majority won’t ever proceed to a lawsuit because the parties agree on a settlement at the initial insurance claim stage.
Ways to Maximize Your Personal Injury Compensation
Some personal injuries prove unpredictably challenging regarding an insurance injury claim. It’s common for insurance companies to attempt to minimize the compensation they must pay for any injury, especially when it comes to injuries that may not show obvious physical signs, such as whiplash or other soft tissue injuries. Some insurers will even attempt to minimize your suffering, causing you to grow increasingly frustrated and uncertain about what you should do next.
However, there are many steps you can take to help maximize your claim and ensure your attorney can do all they can to help you.
#1. Report the Injury Accident ASAP
Suppose you suffer injuries in a motor vehicle accident, for example. In that case, you must report it immediately to the appropriate law enforcement agency. Inform the property owner immediately if you suffer injuries in a premises liability incident, such as a slip and fall. Ask if you can file an incident report and if so, complete it as soon as possible and obtain a copy for your records.
By reporting the accident to the right people, you create a paper trail that will help establish that the accident did indeed occur and when. The report will make it easier to show what caused your accident and, as a result, who is likely liable for what happened.
An accident or incident report is evidence that can help your lawyer garner maximum compensation on your behalf. The bottom line is that making a report can help you receive the full compensation you deserve for your injuries.
#2.See a Licensed Medical Doctor
Visit a licensed medical doctor about any symptoms you might be experiencing. Even if you don’t have symptoms or pain and don’t feel injured, it’s still crucial to be examined by a medical professional after any incident that might have caused a personal injury.
If you have a severe accident causing property damage or you realize immediately that you have suffered injuries, be sure to seek medical attention as soon as possible. In addition, be sure to seek additional medical care if your symptoms become more severe after the initial event or medical evaluation.
Remember that some injuries, such as internal injuries, can be severe or even fatal but not have symptoms immediately. Protect your health, well-being, and legal rights by seeking medical attention immediately after an accident that can potentially cause a personal injury.
In addition, you should follow the advice given to you by medical professionals. For example, they might advise you to make follow-up appointments, schedule surgery, avoid strenuous lifting or exercise, or have physical therapy. As much as you can, you should do what they say as this will help your recovery and show the insurance company you are doing all you can to recover from your injuries.
#3. Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
Speak with an experienced personal injury attorney about your legal right to compensation and how to proceed with your injury claim effectively. By hiring a lawyer to represent you, you have the best odds of maximum financial recovery for your injuries.
An attorney can help you understand the financial challenges that arose from your injuries, including the medical bills you’ve incurred, your lost wages, and the other losses you might have had to deal with. They can also ensure that if it becomes necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit, they will file it within the statute of limitations or legal deadline.
With legal representation, you can also increase the chances of recovering full and fair compensation for your injuries instead of risking the insurer forcing you into a settlement offer that doesn’t reflect your specific damages.
#4. Be Careful When Interacting With the Insurer
Unfortunately, the insurance company may use your honest and innocent communication with the insurance carrier to decrease your ability to recover the total compensation you deserve. Anytime you speak with the insurance adjuster, be careful about what you might say and your interactions with them. Anything you say, recorded or not, can be used to devalue or deny your claim.
For example, they might try to twist your words or ask you leading questions, such as:
- “You did see the floor was wet, didn’t you?”
- “You only had one drink that night, right?”
When you do talk to the insurance company, be sure to avoid discussing:
- Your activities or plans can indicate to them that you have recovered from your injuries and don’t deserve as much compensation as you are asking for.
- Your injury recovery or health with many personal injuries, it’s common to feel terrible one day and somewhat better the next. However, they can use any statements you make against you.
Hire an attorney as soon as possible and let your attorney handle all communications with them. This way, you protect yourself from accidentally saying something detrimental to your claim. If it becomes necessary for you to speak with them, your attorney will be present to protect your legal interests.
#5. Document Your Recovery
As you recover from your personal injury, many challenges may lie ahead of you. You may not know what steps you will need to take to recover.
However, document or keep a journal of each step in that process. Retain your medical records and keep track of your medical bills and any other expenses related to your injuries. You can also write down how you feel each day, your pain levels, and activities you can’t participate in because of your injury or disability.
The more records you have, the easier it will be to prove the losses you suffer due to your personal injury and the compensation you are likely entitled to receive.
#6. Stay off Social Media
In recent years, insurance companies have been known for hiring private investigators to scour the social media accounts of accident victims. What they find can potentially be used against you in your claim. For instance, if they see that you recently took a vacation, went out to dinner with friends, enjoyed a movie with your spouse, or played with your kids, the insurance adjuster will likely bring it up to devalue your claim.
If you post about your injuries or the accident that caused them, they can also find ways to use that information against you. Removing your social media accounts is best until you have resolved your claim entirely. Unfortunately, posting to such accounts after an accident has ruined the cases of many innocent and well-deserving claimants.
Hire a Personal Injury Attorney Today for Help With Your Claim
In some cases, you initially might not think it makes sense to pay for a personal injury attorney when attempting to recoup money for your injuries and damages. However, one of the best ways to maximize your personal injury compensation is with the help of a seasoned personal injury lawyer.
The right attorney will handle every step of your case and bring years of experience and resources to the table. Their assistance regularly results in significantly higher settlement offers, which makes it more than worthwhile to hire a lawyer. Moreover, you do not have to navigate the complex insurance claim process, and you will have the help you need if your case needs to go to court.
Personal injury claims can seem daunting and confusing; however, with the help of the right attorney, they are a vehicle to recover what is rightfully yours after suffering an injury that you should never have sustained in the first place.
Contact a personal injury attorney today to learn more about the personal injury claims process and what they can do for you.