39.5 million people are injured across the country to the point of needing medical treatment. 45.5 million injuries require some form of hospitalization.
These instances lead to lawsuits more often than you might think.
If you’re the subject of a lawsuit claim, you need to take action. Here are seven personal injury defense moves you should make after the claim is filed. With these tips, you can protect your best interests throughout the process.
How do you defend a personal injury claim? Keep reading to find out!
1. Contact Your Insurer
After the claim is filed, make sure to contact your insurer as soon as possible.
When you’re sued in a personal injury matter, you’ll receive a summons and complaint. You’ll have a specific number of days to respond. Before you do, contact your insurance company.
You will likely need to provide your insurer of all court paperwork. In some cases, your insurer may have already received notification about the lawsuit.
Are you carrying enough insurance to cover all damage resulting from the accident? If so, your insurer will defend any personal injury claim made against you. That includes the case of a lawsuit filed in court.
Once you contact your insurance company, it’s their job to handle the claim. You might also need to cooperate with your insurance company’s lawyers.
Most personal injury claims are resolved out of the courtroom. If you have sufficient insurance coverage, your insurance company might start negotiations by the time you receive the notification. In most cases, the insurer will simply settle the claim.
However, your insurance company might believe the other party is making inflated claims to receive more compensation. If that’s the case, they’ll need an independent third party to complete further investigation. When this happens, the two sides will need to work out the details before arriving at a settlement agreement.
2. Don’t Admit Fault
Immediately following an accident, everyone’s tensions tend to run high. This isn’t the best time to determine who is at fault or place blame.
Make sure to cooperate with all law enforcement officers while you’re at the scene. Again, do not admit fault. Instead, stick to the facts.
Don’t make any comments that someone might construe as accepting blame for the accident. This includes a simple apology to the other party involved in the incident.
Remain polite and patient. How you act at the scene of the incident could impact the claim.
Make sure to exchange insurance and contact information. Otherwise, try to keep your contact with the other party to a minimum. If you have to speak with them, make sure you don’t say anything that they might use against you later.
3. Look for Witnesses
While you’re still at the scene, take the time to look for witnesses. Did anyone see what happened? Are they comfortable providing a statement?
If so, take down their contact information.
You can then have your personal injury lawyers contact these witnesses to benefit your case. They can support your side of the story by providing their firsthand account of the incident.
4. Gather Evidence
After the incident, start gathering evidence. Inspect the scene on your own by taking pictures and notes.
If it was a slip and fall incident, determine what caused the fall. Check stairs for uneven tears or wet floor signs if someone slipped. Was there water or an obstruction (such as a loose wire) on the ground?
Look around and try to pinpoint the cause of the trip and fall.
If it was a car accident, take photos of both vehicles. Make a note of the weather. Then, take photos of the surrounding area, including any road signs.
Take as many photos as possible using your phone. You can use this photo evidence so the insurance company, your lawyer, and the jury don’t have to visualize the scene. This evidence can help support your side of the story.
Take the time to write down everything that happened immediately following the incident. Don’t rely on your memory later on. Instead, take thorough notes so you don’t forget anything.
Keep all of this evidence and records in one place. That includes:
- Your notes
- Insurance information (for both parties)
- Contact information for the other party
- Witness contact information
Write down everything you were doing and remember immediately before the accident. Make a note of the day and time, too. You can then provide this evidence to your personal injury lawyer.
5. Consult an Attorney
There are currently 129,834 personal injury lawyers throughout the country. Instead of choosing any lawyer, make sure to choose someone who specializes in personal injury cases.
In order to find the best personal injury lawyer for your case, there are a few factors you should consider.
First, ask about their experience. How many personal injury claims have they defended in the past? Make sure their case experience is similar to yours.
There are many different types of personal injury cases, including:
- Slip and fall cases
- Car accidents
- Assault and battery
- Product liability
- Medical malpractice
- Animal bites
These types of cases can dig even deeper. For example, medical malpractice could involve a misdiagnosis or surgical error. Make sure to find a lawyer equipped to handle your specific case.
Next, ask about their level of courtroom experience. Most civil cases don’t go to trial. However, you still want to find someone capable of winning in a courtroom.
Then, ask about their success rate? Do they more often win, lose, or settle cases?
Check your local bar association to make sure they’re licensed to practice. You can also ask the lawyer to provide reviews from previous clients.
6. Try to Negotiate
Your lawyer can work with you throughout your personal injury defense to review your best options. For example, you might want to negotiate a settlement. Your lawyer can handle the negotiations to determine a reasonable amount.
Even with a strong case, the other party might accept a negotiation offer to avoid going to court.
7. Suggest Mediation
If negotiation doesn’t work, mediation might. This process encourages a compromise settlement. It can also help both parties work out their issues on an even playing field.
Again, it’s important to discuss your options with an experienced lawyer. They can help you determine your best options as you determine how you can defend a personal injury claim.
Make a Plan After a Claim is Filed: 7 Personal Injury Defense Moves to Make
Ready to make a game plan? With these seven personal injury defense moves, you can react after a claim is filed with a level head.
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