Embarking on a personal injury lawsuit can be a stressful process, especially while you also have to deal with recovering from an accident. However, if you do your research and take the right steps, it can be surprisingly straightforward. Here are 9 essential tips to keep you calm and give you the best chance of winning while you pursue your personal injury claim.
Contact a Lawyer as Soon as Possible
The success of your personal injury claim will largely be determined by how much evidence you can provide to support your version of events. To this end, it is always good practice to pursue any legal claim as quickly as possible after the legal event. This will ensure that the specific events will be fresher in your mind, so you can better recount them. You also must take into account the statute of limitations, as most jurisdictions have a time limit for making claims after events.
It’s also worth considering what specific type of attorney you want to contact to pursue your claim. This is because, while there are plenty of non-specific personal injury lawyers out there, there are also many lawyers specialized for specific scenarios. Law firm Lamber Goodnow, for example, offers specialist attorneys in several types of personal injury law, such as trucking accidents, dog bites, and pedestrian accidents.
Seek Out Medical Advice
For multiple reasons, it is also imperative that you seek out medical advice quickly after the accident. Firstly, from a medical perspective, it is always a possibility that the injuries you’ve sustained are more serious than you originally thought. Contacting a medical professional will thus ensure you know the full extent of your injuries and how best to treat them. Secondly, from a legal perspective, the fact that you sought medical attention directly following the incident will likely strengthen the validity of your claim. Your medical records will also be highly useful in terms of evidence.
File a Police Report
On a similar note, filing a police report on the accident will ensure a reliable record of the events exists in an official form. Therefore, if your personal injury claim ever ends up in court, you can point to the police report to support your account of the accident. This can be very helpful in apportioning blame in an accident and can also be useful as a tool to support settlement negotiations out of court, as well. Furthermore, a police report can be helpful in identifying potential witnesses to corroborate your story of the accident.
Exercise Caution When Speaking About Events
As with any lawsuit, anything you state about the accident that caused your injury can be used as evidence against your claim. It is therefore crucial to be highly prudent when making statements about it. You should be especially careful when speaking at the scene of the accident, as you are under no obligation to make any claims of who was at fault, even to the police. As a result, doing so can only serve to weaken any legal claim you might make. This applies to making statements online, as well as in person.
Gather as Much Photographic Evidence as Possible
As mentioned earlier, the likelihood your claim will be successful mostly depends on the strength of the evidence you can provide. In particular, photographic evidence is some of the best evidence in supporting a lawsuit. In view of this, you should try your best to take as many relevant photographs as possible to support your claim. This includes photographs of the scene of the accident (especially if your accident was related to hazardous conditions), as well as photographs of any injuries you sustained.
Retain All Related Bills and Documentation
For similar reasons, recording all documentation relating to the accident will both help to support your claim and determine how much the compensation figure should be. Specifically, medical bills, expenses, and proof of any missed work can all be valuable evidence in proving the accident caused you to lose money due to bills or lost wages.
Avoid Dealing Directly with Insurance Companies
Following an accident, you may be tempted to settle any personal injury claim through an insurance company, to resolve the claim quickly and easily. And while this can be appealing while going through the process of making a claim, it could lead you to receiving much less compensation than you are entitled to. In addition, even if you do eventually decide to settle through an insurance company, you have nothing to lose from contacting a specialist lawyer first, to determine whether you have a case.
There is little point in trying to mislead opposing attorneys during your case because it is likely that you will later get found out. Similarly, if they can find any instances where you have knowingly lied or exaggerated about the details of the case, they will likely use this information to discredit your version of events, as well as your character. In serious situations, there may even be legal repercussions for dishonesty. It’s therefore crucial that you try to be as honest as possible when describing events to lawyers, medical professionals, and anyone else involved in the case.
Don’t Settle Too Soon
Another worthwhile tip is to be vigilant during the negotiation phase of your lawsuit. Civil lawsuits involving personal injury rarely go in front of a judge, so if your claim is successful, this will likely be when your compensation figure is determined. However, opposing lawyers can often take advantage of the stressfulness of the process to sell you on a figure that is well below what you are deserving of. In these cases, it is best to hold out since the opposing lawyers will eventually back down if your case has a strong chance of winning in court. Instead, you should listen to your own attorney about what sort of figure is reasonable and proceed from there. On a similar note, you should normally resist accepting the defense’s first offer, since they will almost always start off with an offer lower than they are willing to pay.