While you must deal with circumstances unique to your life, you may follow a sound blueprint for what to do after an accident injury. Those with accident injuries must make priorities of protecting their health and seeking a financial recovery.
By following the path that other accident victims have taken to compensation, you may receive a fair settlement or judgment of your own. However, you should never face the process alone. Always seek assistance from a personal injury lawyer near you as soon as possible.
What Do We Mean by Accident Injury?
An accident injury is any injury suffered as a result of a:
- Car accident
- Truck accident
- Motorcycle accident
- Pedestrian accident
Some common accident injuries include:
- Broken bones
- Severe cuts
- Severe bruises
- Internal injuries
- Brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
If you suffered one of these injuries or any other injury, take the following steps.
Steps to Take After Suffering an Accident-Related Injury
You have likely already left the scene of your accident and received some medical care for your injuries. You can still do plenty more to protect your health and preserve your case for compensation, including:
Seeking Additional Medical Care
You may have received an extensive medical evaluation and a precise treatment plan. If you believe you have undiagnosed injuries, have yet to receive treatment for specific symptoms, or need to see a doctor again, do so as soon as possible.
Get medical treatment after a truck accident because:
- Truck accidents are known to cause serious injuries, and your injuries can become life-threatening if you do not receive the necessary treatment.
- You need to document every single injury and symptom from your accident; a doctor's diagnosis can help you do that.
- Injuries evolve as time passes, and you must keep track of your symptoms to seek fair compensation.
Preserve every document related to your medical care. This includes receipts for doctor's visits, written records from your doctor, and images of your injuries. Ask your doctor about X-rays, CT scans, or other medical imaging services showing your injury.
Being Wary of Insurance Companies (and Watching What You Say)
Insurance companies do not always honor their policies as they should. Instead, insurers believe that they can withhold the compensation accident victims deserve.
Your insurer or the insurer for a liable third party may:
- Use your statements against you
- Ask leading questions
- Intentionally confuse you
- Pressure you to make a recorded statements
- Make a lowball offer and pressure you to accept it
- Engage in various other bad-faith practices
You should not engage with insurance companies until you’ve hired a trusted lawyer. Your attorney will deal with insurers to the greatest possible extent. If you have to make a recorded statement, your lawyer will prepare you.
Keeping a Record of Injury Symptoms
A doctor’s diagnosis will not totally capture the harm that your injuries cause.
You may also keep a journal documenting:
- When your injury symptoms arise
- How long do episodes of symptoms last
- How intense your symptoms are
- How your symptoms interfere with your daily life
- The emotional and psychological toll that your symptoms take on you
If you believe that any other observations help illustrate the nature of your injuries or symptoms, record them. The more detail you include in your journal, the harder you make it for liable parties to contest your damages.
Hiring a Lawyer as Soon as Possible
This is perhaps the most crucial step to take after your accident.
Your attorney will provide immediate value by:
- Helping you get medical treatment
- Securing and organizing all accident-related medical documents
- Protecting you from insurance companies
- Investigating your accident
- Laying the foundation of your case
- Allowing you to focus on your recovery
There are several ways to find a personal injury lawyer. Be thorough but urgent as you search for the right attorney for your case.
What Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Do?
When handling any accident case, a personal injury lawyer's job is to get the compensation their client deserves. Each client has different damages and therefore deserves a different amount of compensation. Even so, a lawyer performs the same general responsibilities for each client, including:
Managing All Case-Related Communications
Your attorney will deal with insurers, other attorneys, defendants in your case, courts, and anyone else involved. This lawyer-led communication is both convenient and protective.
You can focus on recovery and personal affairs because your lawyer deals with case-related communications. You also won't have to worry about saying something that may damage your case to duplicitous parties like insurers.
Completing All Paperwork and Document Submission
Attorneys complete heaps of paperwork regularly. Let them handle the paperwork for your case.
As they fight for your financial recovery, your lawyer may need to:
- Draft and file statements related to your accident
- Draft and file demand letters to insurers
- Secure supplemental paperwork for insurance companies and courts
- Draft and file a legal complaint (lawsuit)
- File motions related to your case
- Complete various other paperwork-related duties
The slightest error can prove catastrophic in an accident injury case. Many personal injury firms have teams of lawyers, paralegals, and air-tight systems for producing accurate, timely paperwork.
Securing Evidence with Urgency
Gathering evidence is one of the more time-sensitive duties your lawyer will have.
Helpful evidence in an accident injury case may include:
- Video footage, which may be erased or lost if an attorney does not secure it quickly
- Witness accounts, which can fade and become unreliable with time
- Expert witness testimony and accident reconstructions
- Police reports
- Photographs of property damage
- Statements from parties involved in the accident
Evidence is a foundational pillar of any lawsuit or insurance claim. A capable law firm will rely on experienced investigators who know which evidence to seek and how to secure it.
Identifying All Liable Parties
As your lawyer investigates the accident that caused you harm, they will determine who is financially liable for your damages. Liable parties will vary based on the type of accident in question.
Documenting the Client’s Damages
An attorney needs to prove how a harmful accident has affected their client.
Your lawyer will prove this with documentation of your damages, which may include:
- Medical bills
- Medical images of injuries
- Doctors’ notes
- Expert testimony regarding your damages
- Bills for property repairs or replacement of damaged property
- Bills for temporary transportation
- Proof of lost income
Because each client's damages are unique, the documentation a lawyer uses in each case is also unique. Even so, an attorney should always secure all available documentation, as this is the only way to build the strongest case.
Calculating the Value of a Fair Settlement
Attorneys must calculate the cost of both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages generally have a clear financial cost, with medical bills and lost income being prime examples. Non-economic damages do not have an apparent financial cost, but your lawyer can determine a fair amount of compensation for such damages (such as pain and suffering).
Leading Settlement Negotiations
Seek a law firm with an extensive track record of large settlements. These firms have proven their mettle at the negotiating table. You can rest easy knowing that a capable legal team is negotiating for your deserved settlement.
Taking the Case to Court, if Necessary
During the interview, you should ask a law firm: Will you take my case to trial if it is in my best interest?
It is statistically likely your case will settle. However, many civil cases go to court each year.
If a law firm has a reputation for taking cases to trial, consider it a plus. Negotiations do not always produce fair settlements; in these cases, a law firm must always be willing to take your case to court.
What Are the Primary Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer After an Accident Injury?
Accident injury victims realize several benefits when they hire a lawyer, including:
- Physical health benefits: Injuries require care. If you need to tend to the responsibilities of an insurance claim or lawsuit, your physical health may not get the required attention. When you hire a personal injury lawyer, you put your recovery first.
- Mental health benefits: Lawsuits and claims aren't only physically demanding but also mentally strenuous. The stress of dealing with pushy insurers and aggressive civil defense lawyers may cause serious mental health problems. With a lawyer, you avoid these concerning possibilities.
- Financial benefits: Personal injury firms generally cover the entire cost of their client's cases. If the firm uses a contingency-fee structure, it will only receive a fee if it gets money for you.
Here’s the fact: A legal team is in a better position to secure compensation than you are. While hiring a lawyer does not guarantee you'll get a settlement or verdict, a capable attorney may have knowledge, experience, time, and resources that you do not. This can bode well for your case.
What If I Choose Not to Hire an Attorney After an Accident Injury?
If you choose to proceed without an attorney, you risk:
- Your financial stability, as you may have to pay for all case-related expenses out of pocket, and there is no guarantee you will secure the compensation you seek
- Your physical health
- Your mental health
You may not win your case. In fact, considering the experience and resources insurance companies have to fight against claims, they have stacked the odds against you.
The scale of injury types, from least to most costly, are:
- Possible injury
- Evident injury
- Disabling injury
- Fatal injury
Even a possible injury can be costly. Fatal injuries, on average, cost $1.778 million in economic costs alone. This does not account for the non-economic cost of losing a loved one, which is substantial.
Damages Caused by Non-Fatal Injuries
A non-fatal injury can be taxing in both the short and long term.
Recoverable damages from such injuries may include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Decreased earning power
- Lost bonus and promotion opportunities
- Pain and suffering
- Counseling and medication expenses for pain and suffering
Estimates indicate a spinal cord injury may cost the victim more than $1 million in the first year of care alone. The lifetime costs of such injuries can be several million dollars.
Some cases, including auto accident cases, also involve property-related expenses. This can include the cost of repairing or replacing property and securing temporary transportation.
Damages Caused by Fatal Injuries
Some injuries prove fatal. Lawyers see the tragic fallout when individuals lose a loved one unexpectedly and do so because of someone else's negligence.
Recoverable damages in fatal injury cases include:
- Funeral expenses
- Pain and suffering of both the decedent and survivors
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of the decedent’s household services
- Loss of the decedent’s income (and other financial contributions)
- Grief counseling, medication, and other treatment expenses for surviving loved ones
These are only common examples of damages in accident injury cases. If you have additional damages, your attorney will seek fair compensation.
When Should I Hire a Lawyer After Suffering an Accident-Related Injury?
Hire a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Your rights may be at risk, and your lawyer may face multiple deadlines for your case. If such deadlines expire, your lawyer can lose negotiating leverage. Missed deadlines can even extinguish your opportunity to seek compensation altogether.
Retain a Personal Injury Attorney Today
Always seek medical treatment for your injuries immediately after an accident. Then, seek help from a personal injury attorney as your next step.
You want to ensure your lawyer is accomplished, trustworthy, and suited to your particular case type. Use your free consultation to ask questions and determine which lawyer is best for your purposes.
Begin the research process today, complete free consultations, and retain a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.