Accidents that result in injury are a part of life, and we can’t necessarily avoid them. “Few of us think about what would actually happen to us if we were seriously injured, until that happens,” say the attorneys at Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC in West Virginia.
“Many types of serious injuries result from the dangerous, reckless, or illegal behavior of another party. A serious injury can mean months of treatment and care, surgeries, and rehabilitation with no possibility of being able to work and earn a living.”
The solution may be to file a personal injury claim. If you can prevail in such a lawsuit, you’ll have funds to cover medical expenses, repairs to your property, lost wages, and other expenses. But you have to start by filing a personal injury claim.
1. Take Care of Yourself
The first step should always be taking care of medical and physical needs. “You can worry about who’s at fault and who’s financially responsible for damages after medical personnel has examined and/or treated everyone involved,” says DMV.org.
After being checked out at the hospital, give yourself a few days or weeks to recover before you seek the challenging task of pursuing a personal injury case. You want to be physically prepared to handle your personal injury case.
2. Collect Evidence
As soon as you’re well enough, write down as much as you can remember about the accident. If you possess the presence of mind and physical ability at the time of the incident, take photographs. Write down the names and numbers of witnesses who would be willing to give a statement.
If the police came on the scene, they will have collected evidence on your behalf. Contact the police department if you’d like a copy of the report to use in your case.
3. Contact Insurance
It’s standard procedure to exchange insurance information when another party is involved in an accident. If you live in an at-fault state, and the accident was caused by someone else, their insurance should cover much of your losses.
If you live in an at-fault state or the defendant’s insurance is not adequate to cover your costs, you may have to turn to your own insurance. This may raise your rates, and there’s no guarantee your injuries will be fully covered.
After contacting your insurance companies, you’ll have a better idea of how much compensation you’ll need. The willingness to cover medical expenses or lack thereof can be used in your personal injury case to secure compensation.
4. Engage an Attorney
Hiring an attorney for your personal injury case is recommended. A lawyer can help you fight for what’s rightfully yours and make sure you don’t forget anything when you file.
Screen attorneys carefully to find the right one for your case. “Remember, talking with an attorney isn’t the same as hiring an attorney,” advises David Goguen, J.D., a contributor for AllLaw.com.
“Most personal injury lawyers will be happy to provide an initial free consultation where they discuss the merits of your case with you, and outline your legal options.”
Goguen discusses the best part about hiring a personal injury attorney: “In most attorney-client agreements in personal injury cases, the attorney works on a ‘contingency’ basis, meaning the client pays nothing unless there is a settlement or court judgment in the client’s favor. Then, the attorney takes an agreed-upon percentage of the settlement or judgment, as a fee for services.”
That means you won’t have to worry about paying the attorney out of your own pocket, so there’s little risk to hiring an attorney to represent your case. You’re also likely to get more in the settlement because your attorney will be experienced in these matters and knows how to operate in court.
5. File Your Lawsuit
Your attorney will help you file your lawsuit. You’ll start by filing a complaint with your local branch of the state’s civil court. Ask your attorney to go over your state’s statute of limitations regarding personal injury so you don’t risk being late in filing or collecting your compensation.
You may find this a difficult journey, but a great lawyer on your team and a decent understanding of how the process works will make all the difference. Compensation is coming, and that will enable you to work toward a better life.