What Steps Do I Take When I Have Been Involved In An Accident With Injuries?
The first thing that you need to do is notify emergency services. You will need a police report and you will need to seek immediate medical care. If possible, you will want to gather evidence at the scene of the accident, such as insurance company and policy information, names and addresses of witnesses, and take photos of the scene. However, if your injuries are too severe, it is more important to get immediate medical attention. Do not give any written or recorded statements to anyone about the accident or your injuries. Never admit to fault for the accident, even if you think you are partially responsible. Once your injuries are stabilized, contact a personal injury lawyer to protect your rights.
How Do I Know If I Qualify For A Personal Injury Case?
If you have been injured as the result of someone else’s negligent action, than you have a personal injury case. Personal injuries can occur in any place and under any circumstance. Common personal injuries include, vehicular accidents, slip and fall events, animal attacks, work related injuries, medical malpractice, food poisoning and tainted foods, dangerous products, dangerous medications and medical devices, and as a result of some criminal actions.
What Type Of Compensation Am I Entitled To For My Injuries?
Under the law, you can make a claim for three different types of damages when you are the victim of an accident. Each of these damages are for a different type of loss. All three types may not apply to your case. Your attorney will explain to you what damages you are entitled to, based on the facts of your case:
- Special Damages – This is for financial losses you incurred, such as car repairs or replacement, medical bills, and lost wages and benefits. This is a standard type of compensation.
- General Damages – This usually includes pain and suffering from your injuries and long term costs associated with those injuries.
- Punitive Damages – These types of damages are generally used to punish the person that caused the accident because of the actions they took that caused the injury. This can apply to cases like accidents caused by a person who was under the influence, a hit and run accident, or even an assault and battery. Punitive damages are not automatically awarded.
Do I Really Need An Injury Attorney to Represent my Personal Injury Case?
There are no laws requiring you to have an attorney represent your personal injury case. You can work with the insurance company yourself. However, unless you are very familiar with state laws, policy limitations, and have access to expert testimony regarding your injuries and their long term effects, it may not be in your best interest to self-represent your case. An attorney brings training, knowledge and experience into the negotiations and ensures that the insurance company honors all terms of their policy and complies with state laws.
Will I Have To File A Lawsuit Or Go To Court To Receive My Compensation?
In most cases, the insurance company will make a fair settlement offer and you will be able to settle out of court. It is in the best interest of the insurance company to handle cases in this manner because it saves them a lot of money in legal costs. However, if the insurance company is not being fair, it is in your best interest to take the case to court and allow a jury to decide the case.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim for Compensation After I Received My Injuries?
It is always in your best interest to contact an attorney as soon as possible after an accident has occurred. This will help ensure that details of the event are fresh in your mind and in those of any witnesses. It will also be more beneficial to evidence collection. Speaking to an attorney in a timely manner will also ensure that your rights are protected as a victim. However, under the Statute of Limitations, you have up to two years to file a claim for compensation from the date of the accident. It should be noted, however, that insurance companies will become more aggressive at fighting any claim that is filed at such a late date.
What Should I Bring With Me to the Initial Consultation?
When you first meet with your attorney, it is wise to bring as much information about the event as possible. This should include a police report, information on the accident, insurance company information and claim numbers, medical reports associated with your injuries, and any other photos or evidence you may have regarding the event. Additional information may be necessary. Your accident lawyer will inform you of any additional information needed or request permission from you to obtain these records and information on your behalf from the various agencies.
What Exactly is Negligence?
Negligence is defined as a person acting in a manner that was not using reasonable care. For instance, a person who was texting while driving knows that this is wrong, yet was texting any way, was not acting in a reasonable matter. There can be numerous different circumstances where the term negligence applies. Your attorney will explain to you how negligence applies to your specific case.
What If The Other Party Claims I Was Also Negligent?
Comparative negligence laws apply in the many states. What this means is that the defendant of the case can make allegations that you were partially responsible for the accident. If you are found to be partially responsible for the accident at all, your compensation will be adjusted by that percentage.
How Long Will the Claim Process Take to Complete?
Every case is different, but the average amount of time for a case to come to a settlement is between 18-24 months. If your case is more complicated, if your injuries have still not been stabilized, or if the case is required to go to court, it may take additional time. Many cases will settle earlier than this, but there is no absolute guarantee on the time necessary to finish a case.
One of the best ways to speed up the process of your claim for compensation is to always comply with the deadlines for requests for information, go to all scheduled meetings instead of rescheduling to a later date, and follow any other time sensitive advice your attorney provides you regarding your case. Working with your attorney in this type of manner will make sure that there are no unnecessary delays in your case.
Special thanks to our friend Aaron Cantor, of Cantor Crane, Law Offices of David Michael Cantor, Cantor Law Group, for providing some insight into personal injury practice in Phoenix, Arizona.