If you have been injured by someone else’s negligence, wrongful act, or omission, it is important to know that you can sue them to recover your damages. This means that you can recover money to compensate you for the harm that you have suffered. Generally, this type of claim is known as a personal injury case. When you are hurt in an auto accident, it is important to know your rights and understand how the law can help you recover from your damages.
What happens first?
Auto accidents are often at times very traumatic. There is the initial shock of what has happened, then realizing that you or somebody that you care about may be seriously hurt. Auto accidents are hard enough to deal with without having to worry about how best to handle your medical bills and other expenses. Once you’re out of immediate danger, all you may want to do is go home and sleep it off. Before you begin the process of recovery, however, there are some important things that need to be done. A few hours after the accident, when you’re in a position to do so safely and calmly (which can be weeks after when your body is feeling better), it’s time to contact an attorney, gather evidence and start investigating what happened. It is much easier if you hire a good Personal Injury attorney who does all this for you so that you can focus on getting better rather than spending your time tracking down essential documents and people needed for building up your case. There are even some attorneys that offer free consultation after an injury. An investigation will show exactly who was responsible for the damage and injuries you have suffered, in order to determine whether they were insured or if there are any assets in their possession that could be used by the court to pay damages.
Where to start?
By following this general outline, you can start doing some things even by yourself before you contact a professional. Here is an example of a timeline:
Make a list
Sit down and make a list of all your injuries, noting the severity of each ailment. This is important because it will be necessary to compare your current state with your pre-accident condition. If you were in good shape before the accident but are now unable to work out at the gym or engage in other athletic activities that once brought you pleasure, then this should be noted on your list.
Gather documents and bills
As you recover, you should begin to compile bills and other financial documents. If you have insurance, medical providers will often send each other their portion of the bill as soon as they are paid by one of the two parties. You should keep all those receipts for your records. What’s more, it’s a good idea to take pictures of damaged property before repairs are made if there is any question as to what exactly was damaged in the accident.
Have a doctor’s note and prognosis
After you’ve been released from the hospital or clinic, make sure that somebody takes down important information about your injuries and treatment program. This includes doctors’ names and telephone numbers, therapists’ names and telephone numbers (including addresses), prescriptions medications taken during your recovery period including dosage and frequency prescribed, other treatments performed, the prognosis for recovery, expected date of return to work or school, and any other information needed by your future health care providers.
When you are fully recovered enough to go about your usual activities, it’s time to get back into the accident investigation game. What steps do you need to take in order to find out exactly what happened? Who was involved? Any witnesses? Any injuries on their part? The more you know about how it happened, what caused the pain and suffering that you are still feeling today, will help put together a very strong case against the responsible party or parties. If they were not insured or have no assets with which to pay damages, then this will be extremely helpful when deciding whether to bring a lawsuit.
Contact an attorney
Now it is time to contact an attorney and discuss your damages, injuries, and losses with him or her. The attorney fees will come out of any settlement you receive, so make sure not only to keep track of all your expenses but also how much those expenses cost in relation to the final amount that you’re awarded (or if there isn’t enough money to settle). You may also choose to file suit without an attorney, this is done by filing documents at the courthouse yourself. Keep in mind that this is very complicated and time-consuming, so even if you do want to handle everything yourself, you should look into hiring a paralegal or law clerk for a few hours at least. Once again, having as much information as possible will be crucial as it will help to strengthen your case.
What to know?
The last thing that you should do after seeking just compensation for the damage and injuries you have sustained is to find out whether there are any statutes of limitations in a place where you live which would prevent you from filing a lawsuit, regardless of how much evidence and information you may have. This is important because if so, then any bills paid during this time cannot be deducted from the final amount you receive as compensation for your pain and suffering. In most cases, it is very beneficial to file as soon as possible, especially if the injuries you have sustained are permanent and will require lifetime care.
An accident is something that anyone can face any day of their life without warning or preparation. It’s important that you know all the steps, just in case something happens, and you have no idea what to do. Try to stay as calm as possible and plan the next steps as soon as possible. This is a traumatic event, and it is important to protect yourself and get all the information you need.