A personal injury can completely change your life. From serious bodily damage to economic loss, accidents have the potential to take up lots of time, money, and energy.
You need to know what to do after an accident. Since there’s no telling when one could happen, it’s best to know what to do beforehand.
Have you suffered a personal injury and aren’t sure what to do next? Don’t worry; we’ll help you find a path through to the end.
What Is a Personal Injury?
Personal injury is when you suffer injuries as a result of someone else’s negligence. You’re likely familiar with the usual types of personal injury lawsuits:
- Car accidents
- Dog bites
- Medical malpractice (i.e., botched surgeries)
- Other types of accidents on someone else’s property, also known as “premises liability.”
Personal injury cases are, by definition, accidents. If someone does any of the above to you on purpose, that’s called a crime!
Auto accidents are, by far, the most common personal injury claim. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), each year, around 3 million people experience non-fatal injuries due to car accidents.
According to this professional Indianapolis personal injury lawyer, personal injury cases are “tort” cases, meaning they are non-criminal cases involving damages. The vast majority of personal injury cases, auto accident or otherwise, end up settling–as do most tort cases in general.
The Settlement Process
According to the professional Mike Morse, most personal injury cases don’t involve a lawsuit, meaning they never make it to trial. A settlement is a negotiation that takes place between your attorneys and the offending party’s insurance company.
This is where liability insurance comes into play. When a car accident occurs, the at-fault party’s vehicle liability insurance is first in line to foot the bill for any damages.
And liability insurance isn’t just for cars. You can get liability insurance for properties, as well as for your professional practice. Since so many industries carry some degree of liability, businesses will often purchase liability insurance to protect them in the event of a claim or a lawsuit.
If the fault is apparent, the settlement process can be relatively straightforward. However, if there is any hint of shared responsibility, your attorney should be ready for a fight.
When a driver runs a red light, speeds, hits a parked car, or hits another vehicle or cyclist from behind, the fault is often evident. However, if there’s a chance to spread the liability around, rest assured the insurance company will push back.
For example, in a car accident, you may have been speeding or committing some other traffic violation. In the eyes of the law, you could be held partially at fault.
For example, cyclists hit from behind by a car may not have had adequate bicycle lights if they were hit at night.
Third-party liability can even come into play. For example, in a car accident pile up, the guilty party can be hard to point out.
You could even carry fault just by being there, thanks to a legal concept known as “comparable fault.”
You can ask traffic lawyers to guide and help you about this matter.
Liability is just one of the many factors that can affect the outcome of a settlement. Other factors include:
- Policy limits
- Amount of property damage
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
As a result, there are no standard car accident injury settlement amounts. So, as you navigate the settlement process with your attorney, don’t expect a fixed amount.
Personal injury settlements can go from zero to just a few thousand to several hundred thousand dollars.
How to Proceed With a Personal Injury Settlement
In reality, Hiring a Personal Injury attorney is the best way to handle the settlement process. So if you’re thinking of going on your own with a personal injury claim, your chances of success drop to virtual nil.
How should you proceed in the event of a personal injury settlement? Well, the answer lies in what you do immediately following an accident.
Come settlement day, you will want to have done the following things after your accident.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
After an accident, you will want to go to the hospital. If you are lucky enough to walk away from the scene, take a few minutes to get the other party’s info. Most likely, a police report will contain all the vital details.
Injuries often hide after an event. Because of the adrenalin, and because of an injury’s way of presenting itself several days or weeks after the damage, you may not “feel” injured. You’ll want to get an assessment of the injury as soon as possible.
Why? First, you need to take care of your physical well-being. Second, you need to show that you sought medical attention directly following the event–that you didn’t wait weeks for the damage to worsen.
Records showing you got the proper medical attention will help your case come settlement time.
If you are well enough following an accident, take photos of the scene. Take pictures of your injuries as well. Try and get a police report and take the names and numbers of any witnesses nearby.
Collect records of any damages. Keep records of property damage, like car repairs. Also, keep records of any rehab (such as physical therapy) that you needed to recover from your injuries fully.
Any documentation you can gather will strengthen your settlement case.
Finally, get a lawyer. You can’t go it alone when it comes to a personal injury settlement. The right accident attorney will know the ins and outs of the system and be able to guide you through the settlement process.
Be aware that accident lawyers generally work on a contingency basis. This means that you don’t pay anything upfront, but your lawyer will take around 30% of the settlement. It’s something to keep in mind when figuring the settlement amount.
Luckily, most personal injury claims settle and never end up in court. However, to be successful in your settlement, you need to come prepared.
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