Accidents happen. Personal injury claims cover a myriad of different types of injuries, including, but not limited to, car accidents, medical malpractice, slip-and-fall accidents, and defective product claims.
If you’ve suffered substantial damages, handling the legal aspects of a personal injury claim can be challenging. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take after a personal injury to prepare you for filing a claim. Here are 10 tips to consider before filing a personal injury claim:
1) Seek Immediate Medical Attention
If you have been seriously injured, or you’re unsure about the extent of your injuries, the first thing you should do is get medical attention. If your doctor recommends a treatment plan, you should carefully follow it. Do not attempt to handle any claims before you have properly addressed your injuries with a medical professional.
The injured party may have a duty to “mitigate losses,” which means you must take steps to ensure that the injury does not cause any further injuries or economic losses. Consequently, failing to seek medical attention after an accident may reduce your amount of recoverable damages.
2) Keep Accurate Records & Preserve Evidence
These may include hospital bills, medical diagnosis statements, bills related to property damage, and insurance records. If your injury has caused you to miss work, you should also maintain records of lost wages. It’s also a good idea to keep a written account of the injury, especially while the facts are still fresh in your mind.
In the event of a lawsuit, the jury is going to decide your case by looking at the evidence. The more you can do to preserve evidence, the greater chance of winning your case.
3) File a Police Report
Further, filing a police report can ensure that you have tangible records of important information. This may include the names and contact information of other parties that were involved in the accident.
4) Be Wary of What You Say at the Scene
While you must communicate with the other party after an accident, exercise discretion. You are under no duty to state whose fault the accident was or to offer additional information. Avoid making statements that might make the situation more complicated and avoid creating other conflicts in relation to the event.
5) Be Cautious Dealing with Insurance Companies
The legal process may become more complicated when involving insurance companies in a personal injury claim. Nevertheless, in most cases, completing your personal injury claim will require working with an insurance company. Be sure to protect your interests when negotiating with an insurance company, and strongly consider employing an experienced attorney. Ideally, you should not speak to any insurance company without first consulting an attorney, and be aware that the insurance company may ask to record the conversation, which can be used again you in the future.
6) Understand What You’re Signing
Before filling out any forms or documents in relation to the personal injury claim, make sure you completely understand the terms you may be agreeing to. Do not sign any forms if you are unsure of their long-term impacts. Be wary of any documents or contracts that ask you to release the other party from liability, or that require you to forfeit your right to a lawsuit. These include any forms that may be presented to you well after the actual accident occurred.
7) Avoid Trying to Settle on Your Own
Attempting to settle on your own with the other party or with their insurance company can be a complex process. If you are unsure of what you are doing, it is strongly recommended to seek the advice of a legal expert, especially if the other party hires a lawyer. Working with your own personal injury attorney can help you prevent making costly mistakes that may have negative effects on your claim.
8) Know Your Filing Deadlines
You must file your claim in a timely manner. For most personal injury claims, your state’s “statute of limitations” will limit your window of time to file with the courts after the accident occurs. Once the statute of limitations has expired, you might not be able to file your claim anymore. Under Florida’s statute of limitations for most personal injury cases, you have four years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit in Florida’s civil courts; however, there are situations where this time can be reduced to a far shorter period, including a statute of repose.
9) Do Some Preliminary Research
If you wish to pursue a claim, you should familiarize yourself with the basics of personal injury lawsuits in your area. Local rules may vary, and personal injury claims can take some time to fully resolve. While you are not expected to become an expert, speaking with a lawyer for some basic guidelines can help eliminate some confusion from the process.
10) Know What Type of Lawyer You Need
Finally, remember that not all attorneys are the same. Some lawyers specialize in certain fields, while others handle more general claims. There are many different types of personal injury lawyers, and one may be more suitable for your situation than another.
If you or a loved one suffers injuries in an accident, Miller Trial Law can help you.
Please call us today at (305) 697-8312 for a free, no-risk consultation. We look forward to serving you!