If you’ve been injured in accident, you may not want to even think about going through a personal injury lawsuit. But the hard reality is that your accident is costing you money in the form of lost wages and medical bills. Your accident may be causing you trauma, and it may have restricted—or even ended—your ability to do cherished hobbies. To get the financial remedy you need and deserve will require some legal action. The good news is that our experienced attorneys can lift the burdens of hard legal work off your shoulders and give good, strategic advice for how to proceed. That starts with 5 steps that an injured party should take if they even think they have a personal injury case.
Get Medical Attention Immediately
If the injury was serious, this will be obvious. But there are some injuries where their gravity doesn’t show up until after the fact. A prime example would be a car accident. Back and neck problems aren’t always immediately apparent. The effects of a concussion can take their worst toll well after the fact. A person might walk away from the accident believing they’re fine when they really aren’t.
Of course, the first reason to seek medical attention is to care for one’s personal health. But there are also good legal reasons. A defendant’s insurance company can try to undermine a lawsuit by arguing that the plaintiff’s injuries are not directly tied to the accident. Proving this connection---the causation, to use the legal terminology—is essential to securing a fair financial settlement. A doctor’s report, done in the immediate aftermath of the accident, can be a valuable piece of evidence for the injured plaintiff.
Presuming one is physically able, evidence-gathering at the scene of the accident is extremely helpful. Take cellphone pictures of everything. Even if you don’t believe it’s important, take the pictures and let your attorney sort them out, looking for ways to prove what happened. Get the phone numbers of witnesses and your lawyer can follow up with them. Then, make sure the medical bills and other examples of financial cost are preserved, for when it’s time to negotiate a final settlement figure.
Don’t Talk About Your Accident
At least publicly, stay silent. Don’t post photos on social media or via a group text. Don’t even reassure everyone that you’re okay. We know that it’s natural to want to provide comforting words to friends. But those words might be taken out of context if an insurance company’s lawyers come across them. They may be cited as a means of showing that your injuries are not serious, or that they weren’t caused by the accident. We aren’t saying an injured plaintiff can’t have a simple conversation with those who closest to them. But broad statements on public platforms, or even group venues, should be avoided.
Don’t Take The First Offer
The insurance company will often make an initial settlement offer. Keep in mind, their job is to reduce the payouts. They know that most injured plaintiffs don’t have a sense of what their kind of injuries are typically worth in a settlement. A personal injury lawyer, one with experience working a large number of cases, will know what’s fair and what’s a lowball offer. Tell the insurance company to call your lawyer.
Get a Lawyer
Of course, telling the insurance company to call your attorney presumes you’re working with legal counsel. At some point during any of the four steps above, put a reliable personal injury attorney on your side.
Bridges, Jillisky, Weller & Gullifer, LLC is committed to a high standard of excellence for all of our clients, from investigation to negotiation to—if necessary—litigation. Call our office at (937) 403-9033 or reach out here online and let’s talk about strategies to get you the settlement you deserve.