If you have been injured in an accident recently, you can file a claim to get compensated for all the damages you sustained due to the liable party’s negligence or wrongful actions. Car accident and injury claims can seem complicated and vague in their details, especially for those who have never filed such claims before. An accident can result in hefty medical bills, absence from work, inability to do house chores, and psychological damages, so you need to ensure that you get fairly compensated for all of these damages. We will walk you through the 7 steps that you should follow from the moment the accident happened to the moment you file your claim.
Step 1: Seek Medical Attention
Injuries can stay dormant for a long time after an accident but, they surface later and can impact your health. Many people ignore going to the hospital after an accident as they feel “fine”, this is a common mistake that can cost you money and lead to health problems in the future. Seeking medical attention will identify any injuries that you may have suffered from the accident and tend to them immediately, which can make a difference in your healing process. Moreover, ignoring medical treatment after an accident will weaken your claim considerably as the responsible’s insurance company can question if the injuries are related to the accident or if they were not as severe as you claim. Gathering medical bills and treatment information is vital to improve your claim in order to receive the fair compensation you deserve.
Step 2: Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
Many people handle their car accident and injury claims by themselves and they get compensation. However, it is highly possible that they don’t get fairly compensated, and in some cases not compensated at all. You may think that your injuries are minor and you don’t need a lawyer, but keep in mind that personal injury attorneys have experience in similar cases and may find that you deserve higher compensation than you think. Additionally, the claim process is complicated and an attorney will help you through it and avoid any mistakes you may fall into. At the very least, consult a lawyer to discuss your claim as they can point you to specific requirements you may not be aware of.
Step 3: Establish Negligence and Prepare Documents
The key to winning any car accident or personal injury claim is establishing the negligence of the other party. If the other driver ran a red light or was under the influence at the time of the accident, this supports your claims that the accident was caused by their negligence. However, it can be quite difficult for plaintiffs to prove negligence on their own, and that’s why personal injury lawyers at www.dsslaw.com recommend using the help of an attorney as they know how to prove negligence. This is especially crucial in states like New York and New Jersey where personal injury claims can be rather complicated. Additionally, gathering all documents and bills that prove the amounts of money you spent on medical care, repairing or replacing your car, the income you lost, and how the accident affected your life will improve your chances of getting fair compensation. It’s essential to remember and document every bill you have had to pay since the accident.
Step 4: File a Claim
Filing a car accident and injury claim can be done before gathering documents in order not to miss the statute of limitation which is the amount of time you don’t exceed after an accident. If you have enough time, you can file a claim after the previous step to ensure you are fully prepared for the claim. In this step, you or your attorney inform the liable party and their insurance company of your intention to file a claim.
Step 5: Negotiate a Settlement
In most cases, the negotiations for a settlement start after filing a claim and before it goes to court. Either the plaintiff’s attorney approaches the liable party for their demands or vice versa. Like any type of negotiation, each party has its own vision of how much they should compensate or get compensated. Be prepared for offers and counter-offers of settlement amounts until an agreement is reached or the claim moves to court. The following steps aren’t needed if you have reached an agreement on the settlement amount with the other party.
Step 6: File a Lawsuit
Once the claim goes to court, the discovery phase starts in which each party will investigate the other party’s claims and defenses in order to have a better overview of the case. Depositions will be held for each side when you testify under oath while being recorded for later use in the trial. All the evidence and documents will be presented to the court and jury and they will decide which side has the right claim. Keep in mind that in case you won the trial, the jury will decide the amount of money you will receive as compensation. Additionally, these trials can last up to a year, so be prepared for a long battle, and that’s why both parties are usually eager to settle before trial.
Step 7: Find a Mediator
This step is usually taken in the middle of filing a lawsuit. After the discovery phase, a neutral third party attempts to resolve the conflict between the plaintiff and the defendant. In this step, each party knows how strong or weak their position in the claim is and it may help in reaching a settlement easier than the time before. However, if the mediator was unable to resolve the case, the trial will continue to take its course.
The steps of filing a car accident and injury claim may seem straightforward, but there are hidden details that you won’t know until you actually file the claim. There are some mistakes that can affect your case negatively. For example, fleeing the accident scene will make you look like you are guilty, which is a common mistake that victims make when they panic. More importantly, never admit guilt, even if it’s unintentional. A simple “I’m sorry” can be held against you as an admission of guilt. Let the law enforcement decide who is to blame for the accident and never talk to insurance adjusters without the presence of your attorney.