If You Were Injured Because of Someone's Negligent Actions, Follow These Seven StepsA trip to the mall or to an event with friends can turn tragic in a second due to the careless actions of another person. When individuals engage in reckless behavior behind the wheel, whether rushing to work, or while providing a service, they place others at the risk of serious harm. If this happened to you or a loved one, following the proper steps after your injury can make a big difference in your ability to seek compensation later. These steps are not applicable to all situations or cases, but overall they provide a good starting point for what you can do to protect yourself and your family after an injury.
1. Seek Immediate Medical AttentionIt is important to immediately call 911 after you’re involved in an accident and injured in any way. If you are injured after a car accident, slip and fall, or any other incident, you need medical attention right away. Getting checked out by a hospital or doctor after an injury is important for a few reasons. First and foremost, you need medical evaluation of any possible injuries. This will prevent injuries from worsening due to delayed symptoms.
Some Injuries Can be DelayedDelayed symptoms can have deadly consequences if there are certain injuries, such as organ damage or internal bleeding. Even if you don’t believe that you’re seriously injured, you should still get medical attention immediately after your accident. Adrenaline can mask serious injuries. And minor pain can turn out to be a much more serious issue. The quicker you see a doctor, the sooner you can understand what injuries you are facing and come up with a plan to treat them and get on your way to recovery.
Document Official Records of Your InjuriesGetting medical attention as soon as possible after an injury or accident does not just protect your health. It also protects any potential personal injury claim you may need to pursue in the future. Medical care immediately following a personal injury incident will officially document your accident and injuries. Prompt medical attention prevents the at-fault party’s insurance adjuster from having a reason to dismiss your claims. It is a common tactic of insurance companies to say that your injuries couldn’t be that bad because, if they were, you would have gone to a hospital or doctor right away. This means a delay in treatment could lead to the insurance company denying your claim or trying to significantly reduce the compensation amount.
Follow Through With Your Treatment PlanThe final element related to medical treatment that will help to protect your injury claim is following through with your medical care plan. It’s imperative that you follow doctor’s orders as closely as possible to allow yourself the best chance to heal properly. This includes taking all prescribed medications, going to all your physical therapy appointments, and never missing a follow-up appointment with your doctors or specialists. Following your treatment plan can also assist your case by showing that you are serious about recovering and getting back to pain free living again. Of course, things come up. That’s natural. But routinely missing appointments or not following your treatment plan in some other way shows the insurance company that your injuries aren’t that serious. These are not rare tactics. Insurance companies use all the techniques mentioned above to try to deny, delay, and diminish cases. That is why it is so important that you get medical care and follow through with your treatment plan.
2. Document the SceneCollecting evidence immediately following your accident or injury may not cross your mind during all the confusion. No matter how chaotic the situation, it is in your best interest to gather as much information that can help prove your claim later. Some ways you can document the scene to protect a possible future injury claim include: take pictures and video, exchange contact and insurance information with all parties involved, obtain any witness info, make a police report, and don’t admit fault. If your injuries prevent you from collecting valuable evidence, ask a witness to assist you. If someone witnessed the accident and he or she knows that it wasn’t your fault, chances are that he or she will offer to help you.
Take Pictures and Video of the Accident ScenePictures and video can be invaluable in helping your claim. This digital proof will show exactly what the scene and what your injuries looked like. And there may even be other critical pieces of information lurking in the background.
Document the AccidentYou should also be sure to contact the police, whether you were injured in a car accident or in a store, as having authorities there to document the scene provides very good evidence. You should also encourage any witnesses to speak to the police. If it’s possible, get the names and phone numbers of any witnesses for future communication.
Avoid Admitting FaultFinally, do not admit fault. And do not sign anything! In a situation where you are hit by a truck or if you run into a motorcyclist, do not apologize or admit any kind of fault. The same goes for other injuries like slip and falls. Do not sign anything and do not admit fault to the store management.
3. Notify Your FamilyIt is important to notify your family as soon as possible. If you are unable to text or to call a member of your family, ask someone to help you. In today’s instant news society, it’s possible that social media posts from a bystander may alert your family before you do. Try to find out what medical facility your family members should come to meet you. Having family and friend support after an injury can make a big difference in how you feel and your stress levels.
4. Tune Out Aggressive Insurance RepresentativesAs you learn to deal with your new injuries, you do not need the stress of aggressive insurance representatives. Most insurance companies like to settle cases quickly by offering the least amount of money possible. Their interest is not with you, but rather with their bottom line. Do not speak with them, and do not sign anything until you have an attorney representing your best interests. Insurance adjusters have many tricks up their sleeves. Their goal is to get unsuspecting injury victims to either accidentally ruin or lessen the value of their case, or to get them to settle right away for a low price. Insurance adjusters will put on a friendly face and voice and seem trustworthy. They are excellent actors. Chances are, they will put you at ease and talk you into giving information that seems harmless or that even seems like it’s helping your case. Unfortunately, insurance adjusters will often twist these words and use them as evidence against you later. Even if an accident victim is honest about everything that occurred, the insurance company can still find a way to manipulate the facts in any way possible to lower what it will cost their business. Your best bet in this situation is to hire a personal injury attorney. Once you have legal representation, all conversation with any insurance company can be directed to your attorney and handled by a confident and knowledgeable professional.
5. Contact a Personal Injury LawyerA low-dollar settlement from an insurance company is most likely not enough to cover your future medical needs and it will not cover other damages that you are entitled to, such as lost wages and pain and suffering. By securing legal representation, you’ll rest better knowing someone is on your side and protecting your best interests. The right personal injury lawyer knows how to negotiate with insurance companies. If he or she is unable to reach a fair settlement out-of-court, your lawyer shouldn’t be afraid to take your case to trial. Trying to negotiate with an insurance company alone is a bad idea. The insurance company is simply too experienced and too skilled at what it does. Handling your case on your own will only leave you frustrated and disappointed. Personal injury lawyers offer free case evaluations and they don’t collect a fee unless they secure compensation for you. You have nothing to lose by collecting your evidence and scheduling a free evaluation. Time is important due to the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim. The timeline in Illinois is two years in most cases, and the clock starts the date of the accident. While 24 months may seem like a long time, it can pass quickly as you deal with your injuries.
6. File a Personal Injury Claim for DamagesWhile it is easier said than done, practicing patience is important when waiting for the outcome of your case. Your injuries require time to heal, and civil litigation requires time, too. [Read More: Timeline of a Personal Injury Case] Not settling for less than you deserve is vital to protecting your future financial needs. While each case is different, you may be entitled to compensation for different types of damages caused by your injury. Those damages may include special damages and general damages. In the case of a fatal accident, wrongful death damages may also apply.
Special DamagesSpecial damages (also known as economic damages) refer to losses from your injury that have a monetary value associated with them. These damages include:
- Medical Bills
- Treatment and Procedure Costs
- Surgery Costs
- Lost Income from Missing Work
- Loss of Future Earnings
- Cost of Future Medical Care
- At-home Care and Therapy Costs
- Property Damage
- Other Direct Costs Related to Injury
General DamagesGeneral damages (also known as non-economic damages) refer to losses that don’t easily have a monetary value associated with them, but that still affect the victim and deserve compensation. These damages include:
- Permanent Disability
- Lost Earning Ability
- Physical and Mental Pain and Suffering
Wrongful Death DamagesIf a family member died because of injuries associated with an accident or other personal injury incident, you can pursue wrongful death damages on their behalf. This would include damages that were incurred prior to and after their passing. These damages include:
- Funeral and Burial Expenses
- Cost of Pre-death Medical Care
- Emotional Distress
- Lost of Financial Contribution to Family
- Loss of Support
- Loss of Companionship
7. Act NowIt is easy to put off contacting a personal injury lawyer. Maybe you think that it will be a hassle or that you are not ready to speak to an attorney. Maybe contacting a lawyer may not cross your mind. An accident of any kind is usually so sudden and unexpected that the aftermath may overwhelm you. The simple fact is that the sooner you have an experienced personal injury attorney working to protect your best interests, the better off your claim for compensation will be. An attorney will give you an honest evaluation of your claim, handle negotiations with tricky insurance companies, begin investigating your claim, and overall shoulder the legal burden of your case so that you don’t have to.
When You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer
When you experience an injury due to the negligent actions of another individual, you need a personal injury lawyer on your side. If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault, consider discussing your case with a personal injury lawyer. You have nothing to lose by scheduling a free case evaluation; however, you should do it soon. The statute of limitations can expire, leaving you a missed opportunity for pursuing justice. Protecting your future medical needs is one of the most important reasons why you need a personal injury lawyer. Don’t belittle the circumstances of your accident. It is a smart idea to let a licensed legal professional decide if your case merits civil litigation. No one should suffer physical, financial, or emotional stress due to the careless actions of someone else. Pursuing a personal injury claim may just hold the party that caused your accident and injuries accountable, hopefully enough so that he or she never risks careless behavior again.
Abels & Annes, P.C. 100 N LaSalle St #1710 Chicago, IL 60602 (312) 924-7575