An accident has the potential to alter your life permanently. It can leave you with severe injuries as well as financial loss. After an accident, if you don’t take the right steps, you could miss out on the compensation you deserve.
The personal injury claim process can be daunting if you’ve never done it before. This beginner’s guide will tell you everything you need to know!
The Personal Injury Claim Process
So what is a personal injury claim? Legally speaking, a personal injury case is an accident that involves you but was not your fault (if you are on the plaintiff’s side). Common personal injury cases you may be familiar with include:
- Dog bites
- Car accidents
- Slip-and-fall cases
- Medical malpractice
- Defective products
- Workplace injuries
Since personal injury claims are considered “tort” or civil claims, you can take the guilty party to court for compensation. So what can you receive compensation for after an event such as a car accident?
Typical damages you can claim in a personal injury case involved damages to your property, medical expenses, and, occasionally, pain and suffering.
But before you receive a dime of compensation for any damages, the personal injury process requires you to prove two things: the damages, along with liability.
“Proof” is the operative word here. You must have evidence that it was the other person’s fault and that you suffered damages (physical, mental, and/or material) because of their negligence.
Here are the three most vital steps to take after an accident that wasn’t your fault.
1. Seek Medical Attention
The absolute first thing you must do after a personal injury accident is seek medical attention. If you’ve suffered injuries, go to the hospital ASAP.
Even if you think you might not have suffered an injury, get medical help. Sometimes, injuries (especially internal injuries) can go under the radar and not surface until several days later.
To boot, after an accident, your body is teeming with adrenaline, so you may not “feel” injured. Get medical help anyway, and keep records. If you wait until a week after the accident to see a doctor, the procrastination may be used against you when it comes to claiming medical damages.
2. Keep Records
Take pictures of your damaged car and record your injuries where appropriate. Get a police report. Collect every single record you possibly can regarding your accident, including receipts for repairs or records of missed work.
3. Lawyer Up
Finally, get an attorney. You don’t want to go through the personal injury process alone. Accident attorneys abound, and a quick internet search will yield plenty of credible options.
Personal injury claim settlement amounts vary from zero to several hundred (even millions) of dollars. Your attorney will likely file a claim to the guilty party’s insurance first. If that doesn’t work, it’s court time!
Much of the personal injury claim process depends on how you act directly after an accident, so be prepared!
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