Information Any Personal Injury Victim Should Know
In the rush to seek compensation after a incident, many personal injury victims wind up making legal mistakes that prevent them from obtaining the maximum amount of compensation to which they are entitled. Our Phoenix personal injury lawyers have compiled this guide in order to assist victims of personal injury in taking the correct steps toward documenting their case and obtaining the most beneficial verdict or settlement possible.
Read the topics below to learn details about what to do and some common issues we have seen in regards to personal injury victims:
- First steps of what to do if you are a Personal Injury Victim
- Keep your case information between you and your injury attorneys
- Review documents with your injury attorney before signing
- Do not try to negotiate on your own
- Never let evidence go undocumented
- Keep track of key information such as names & dates
- Tips to preventing documents getting lost
- When to know if you should file a lawsuit
- When you should speak to a personal injury lawyer
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Because of the laws in place regarding personal injury in an automobile accident or public setting, most people or companies that are responsible for any injury you incur will already have an insurance company in place or a lawyer on retainer. These people and organizations exist to protect the individuals and companies they represent, which means that they will attempt to cause limitations on the compensation you can receive, or in some cases, prevent you from receiving compensation entirely. Insurance companies, investigators and attorneys will be investigating the circumstances that resulted in you being injured starting at the moment that the injury takes place – this is why it is important to follow best practices after being injured.
If you’ve sustained a personal injury, your first step should be to contact an attorney. Typically, a number of steps need to be taken when an injury that may involve legal action is sustained. Some of these steps are as follows:
- Witnesses to the injury must be interviewed
- Appropriate parties must gather and preserve any physical evidence
- Photos and videos should be taken of the accident and any related objects and areas
- Experts and investigators should be brought on to examine the case
- Insurance companies must be contacted
When you’ve been injured, it’s essential that these steps are taken. It’s very easy for your rights to be violated by an insurance company or attorney if you aren’t on top of things. Free consultations with attorneys are available, and obtaining one is crucial
When you’ve sustained a personal injury in a car accident, an attorney or an investigator from the insurance company of the party who is at fault will be contacting you. They will go about this in a very nonchalant way, making it seem like they are simply conducting the routine process of collecting information regarding the accident or your claim. They may pressure you, making you feel that you are legally obligated to talk to them. You are not, and you should not reveal any information.
It is crucial that you not discuss the accident or anything relating to your claim with anyone who contacts you. It is your legal right to refuse to provide a statement, whether spoken or in writing, to any investigator or insurance company who is working on behalf of the party who is at fault. It is up to you to stand up for your rights and refuse to speak to these individuals. The appropriate course of action in this case is a statement such as “I will not be discussing the details of the case with you, but if you give me your name and your phone number, my lawyer will be in touch.” This asserts that you know your rights and are having your case handled by a professional.
It’s important for you to know that this does not apply to your personal insurance company. Most insurance policies leave you legally liable for full cooperation with your own insurance company. It is your responsibility to provide your insurance company with a statement about the accident in which you were injured.
Insurance companies and other affiliated parties can be ruthless in trying to prevent payouts when settling claims. This can result in people from the company trying to coerce you into signing documents that can then limit the amount of compensation you are able to receive. If the insurance company of the at fault party or any other individual related to that person’s side of the case attempts to obtain your signature on any document, it’s very important that you review that document with your attorney to make sure it doesn’t violate or limit your rights in any way.
If you’ve sustained a serious injury, you know just how important it is that you receive compensation for your hardship. Though it can be tempting to try and fight the system on your own, many have tried and failed. It may seem like the cost of an attorney is limiting, but the truth of the matter is that you are likely to receive significantly less compensation or none at all if you attempt to negotiate your settlement without the assistance of an experienced attorney.
In almost every case, the insurance company representing the party at fault will refuse to compensate you with the full amount to which you are entitled unless you have legal representation available to provide an evaluation of your case and proof that the at fault party is responsible. When you’ve been injured, your care may extend beyond your immediate needs. An experienced attorney can assess any medical problems that might occur down the road because of your injury as well as calculate the amount of money you have lost and will lose from time spent out of work. Without an attorney, the injuring party’s insurance company will almost never pay out these figures.
Talk to a Personal Injury Attorney
Any time you have a case that can require legal action, your best bet is to speak to an attorney. Without one, you will not be in the position to obtain a reasonable claim. You will not be protected from the attempts to take advantage of and limit you that will almost certainly be made by the insurance company of the person responsible for an accident. Consulting with a lawyer can help you be certain that you’re not providing information the insurance company shouldn’t have. It can also prevent the insurance company from trying to undermine the amount of money you can receive by trying to figure out your opinion on the case’s value and then low-balling you with a figure far less than you deserve, saying that it is the maximum they can offer.
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If you’ve been seriously hurt, a lot of issues will spring up suddenly that you may not have been prepared to deal with. You’re not the only one impacted – your family can also suffer after you’ve been in an accident. You’ll have medical bills, and you’ll need recovery time that can impact your ability to work. Though these things are upsetting and can be detrimental, it’s important that you or someone you trust consistently document your injury through photos and video. This can help a jury to understand that an injury was serious and impacted your life even after you’ve recovered to the point of functionality. From the moment a collision or accident happens, you or your friend or family member should be taking clear photos and video of everything taking place to ensure that your case is well rounded.
It can be easy to forget small details, but when it comes to legal matters, those same details can make or break your case. Names of individuals involved, the date and time of day of accidents and incidents that occur, events relating to the case and statements made by all parties should be recorded, as they’re often the building blocks of a good case. Ask anyone involved in the accident on your side to provide statements about the who, what, when, where and why of your case to have full documentation.
There will be a lot of paperwork resulting from your personal injury and the resulting claim or case. It’s important that this not be lost – in fact, it might be in your best interest to keep these documents in a fire and waterproof lockbox. In any case, the documents should be kept together in a safe place that not many people can access. You should let someone close to you, such as a spouse or family member, know the location of these documents for your protection. Some documents you should hang on to include:
- Medical Bills from the doctor or hospital
- Documentation of your case from the doctor or hospital
- Any correspondence from the at fault party
- Documents sent to you from any insurance company
- Any digital or physical correspondence from people who witnessed the event
- Statements from witnesses and reports made by police
- Any hand written correspondence relevant to the case
Personal injuries tend to be unique situations, and every person needs to decide for themselves whether or not they should file suit against an at fault party. It’s important for you to consult with an attorney, as they are a qualified party that can determine the veracity of your claim and whether or not it’s worth taking to court.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself when trying to determine whether a lawsuit is in your best interest.
- Is the claim viable? This requires examining the claim from a legal perspective. The legal standards of negligence must be able to be proven for a case to stand up in court.
- How much damage have you sustained? Have you sustained major financial loss, or are your losses less than the cost of filing a lawsuit? Factor in long term medical costs when answering this question.
- Who is the at-fault party? More often than not, if the party is an individual or a small business, seeking financial compensation outside of court is easier than a lawsuit. Many people are hesitant to cause financial harm to the at fault party when they don’t really have the insurance necessary to pay out a huge claim anyway.
- What kind of damage have you sustained? If the damage is significant and long term, and has resulted in economic and non-economic damages, filing suit is often a good idea.
Things like loss of income, chronic pain, significant medical expense or anything else that changes your ability to function or limits your quality of life generally mean that you should consider filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party, particularly if the injury will have a long term impact.
Simply consulting with a law firm does not construe filing a lawsuit. A free consultation allows you to present your case to a qualified attorney, who can assess the veracity of the case and inform you about the costs involved in filing a lawsuit and what kind of compensation you could potentially receive. This insight is invaluable, and it is only available through consulting with an attorney. The attorneys at the Hirsch & Lyon team have experience in handling personal injury cases. Call Hirsch & Lyon today at (602) 535-1900 or fill out our Online Case Review Form to speak with a personal injury attorney at the Hirsch & Lyon team about your case.