If you’ve been recently injured, it can be confusing to figure out what to do next, especially if you are struggling with emotional trauma. “Personal injury cases are legal disputes that arise when one person suffers from an accident or injury, and someone else might be legally responsible for that harm.” (FindLaw 2018) The first steps in taking control of the situation begin immediately after the initial incident. Taking care to follow these steps can help lead the way to successfully holding someone responsible for the emotional and physical damage they have cost you.
First Steps in a Personal Injury Claim
The first action taken is ensuring sustained injuries are taken care of. Failing to have injuries properly evaluated and treated by a medical professional may unintentionally give the impression that there weren’t real injuries, to begin with. This can severely impact the ability to file a personal injury claim, let alone have a successful case. Early treatment also assists in proving that the injuries suffered are all directly related to the accident and not from another underlying cause.
The subsequent steps to be taken into consideration when filing for personal injury are separated into two categories: documentation and notice. Documentation of an injury includes calling the police immediately following the accident (if you are able), taking photographs of the incident and resulting injuries, giving a statement on the accident and injuries, keeping discharge records from the ER, creating a notebook journal of evaluation and treatment after the accident, keeping receipts for any prescriptions used to treat the injuries, providing a doctor’s note for missed work, etc. Always strive for the most accurate record possible of the event to ensure there is ample proof of the accident and injuries sustained.
The ‘notice’ category begins by formally notifying the parties involved in the accident and injuries. This can include but is not limited to, informing auto insurance of the accident (if the injury is vehicle-related), working with an adjuster to resolve the property damage claim, coordinating with any health insurance that may be applicable, letting the workplace know if you will be out, etc.
Things to Avoid
Filing a claim for personal injury is weighted with several things that should always be avoided, or there is a risk that the claim will be deemed invalid. Never admit fault in the incident, do not make a recorded statement, don’t downplay injuries (let the medical professionals know if your pain rating is 10/10), and don’t try settling a personal injury claim without the assistance and guidance of an attorney.
All of these factors are critical to building a solid case and ensuring that your claim has validity. Take the time to approach the situation with a personal injury attorney who can help you through the legal process of properly filing a personal injury claim to greatly improve the chances of receiving the compensation sought. Hopefully, these steps aren’t needed any time soon, but there is no such thing as ‘too prepared’ for unexpected obstacles one may face.
Notes from Attorney James M. Payne