5 Proven Tips to Increase Your Chances When Pursuing a Personal Injury Claim
Being injured in an accident of any kind presents a number of problems and most of them create a financial burden. This is why the law allows people to pursue compensation, or damages, from those injured through the negligence of others. While you may have certain rights that allow you to receive compensation, either through an insurance settlement, or a court-ordered award, you also have certain responsibilities. By knowing about your obligations in these situations, you'll be better prepared to do everything possible to win your case.
- Seek Medical Attention as Soon as Possible
It's very important to seek a medical evaluation and treatment, as soon as possible, after your accident. This is true, even if you don't feel injured, because it can take some injuries awhile to manifest. You may not feel pain, or experience other symptoms, until days, or even weeks, after the incident. Injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, spine damage, or neck injuries can take time to develop.
Additionally, failing to seek medical attention within a reasonable timeframe will be viewed unfavorably by insurance companies and civil court judges. It can seem as though you deliberately delayed treatment to let your injuries worsen in the hopes of getting a bigger settlement. In court, this is called contributory negligence and judges can either dismiss your case altogether, or limit the amount you're entitled to receive in damages. For this reason, you should seek medical treatment promptly and follow your doctor's instructions.
- Collect Evidence of Your Injuries
It's not enough to simply claim that you have suffered injuries, as a result of the accident. You must be able to provide proof of specific injuries and you must be able to show that you're seeking treatment. This requires tangible evidence, which you can present to an insurance company, or that which you can present in court. The best proof you can provide will come in the form of your medical records.
One way to prove you suffered injuries is to make copies of your medical records. These documents should show the diagnoses provided by your caregivers, as well as the recommended treatments. If you must go to physical therapists, or participate in other types of additional therapy, records documenting your participating in those services should also be provided. You should also supply copies of all of the bills for these treatments, so the financial burden of your recovery can be documented. Keeping meticulous records and being able to provide copies of them will go a long way toward establishing your need to recover damages. It will be difficult to defend against your claims, when you can provide documents that support your claims.
- Don't Discuss Your Case
One of the biggest mistakes people make is discussing their accidents and possible personal injury claims publicly. By discussing the incident, you may make statements that can be misinterpreted, or taken out of context. The insurance companies and defense attorneys know how to uncover these kinds of things and they will use those statements against you. One statement, even one made innocently to someone you believed you could trust, can end up sabotaging your entire case.
For the same reason, you should limit what you post on your social media accounts. In fact, personal injury lawyers prefer that their clients stay off of social media altogether, until their case has been settled. This because photos, videos, and written statements can all be used to defend against your claims. For instance, a photo that was taken, before your accident, but posted after you filed your claim might be used to cast doubt on your claim. If you must maintain a social media presence, don't discuss your accident and don't post any new personal pictures. For the same reason, it's best to avoid adding new friends and to keep all of your posts limited to "friends only" settings. Limiting who can see your posts can help you control the defense's access to your account.
- Be Wary of Early Settlement Offers
Signing one document that you don't fully understand can destroy your ability to file a claim for future compensation. The opposing party's insurance company will come to you in a short time period to offer you a cash settlement to pay for your injuries. While this sounds like a quick way to get the immediate cash you need, these settlement offers are usually insufficient to cover the full extent of damages you suffered. The insurance companies know that, once the victim in an accident accepts a settlement, they give up any future claims for compensation. If you are going to negotiate with the insurance company, it's vital that you read all of the documents pertaining to the offer and that you fully understand its terms.
- Hiring a Lawyer is the Best Route
Rather than try to negotiate with the insurance company directly, your best course of action is to hire a no win no fee lawyer. An attorney experienced in handling personal injury claims is better prepared to negotiate with the insurance company. They will know how to communicate with the insurance company's representatives to help you get a fairer settlement offer. This will ensure you'll receive enough money to cover your medical treatment bills, future therapy needs, and the loss of wages you suffered, as a result of your injuries.
In event that the insurance company won't settle, your lawyer will be prepared to go to court. He will already be familiar with your case, through the unsuccessful negotiations, and can begin preparing for trial. He will already have done much of the preparatory work, so he'll be equipped to develop a strong strategy for your case.
In most cases, insurance companies will settle, but that requires your ability to know how to conduct yourself to develop a stronger case. By limiting what is publicly known and gathering evidence, you can help your attorney put together a promising case that has a greater chance of a positive outcome. Even negotiations will be more effective, when you can limit the opposing party's access to evidence against you.