You suffered severe injuries in an accident. Now what? You may know that another party’s negligence caused your injuries, and the other party owes you compensation for those injuries. However, it is often difficult to get the compensation you deserve.
How can you claim injury in an accident?
1. Get in touch with a lawyer.
If you intend to file an injury claim after an accident, start by contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer. Do not talk to the insurance company that covers the liable party directly until you have a lawyer on your side. A lawyer can provide you with vital insights and advice making it easier to proceed with your injury claim and increasing your odds of recovering the full compensation you deserve.
Injury claims may prove much more complicated than other types of insurance claims. When you file a car accident claim involving property damage, for example, you will generally get an estimate from a certified repair shop recommended or chosen by the insurance company, and the insurance company will pay for the repairs to your vehicle. When you add injuries to the equation, the process becomes much more complicated.
While you may think your injuries and expenses are relatively straightforward, the insurance company may try to introduce complicated elements making it more difficult for you to get the full compensation you deserve. By working with a lawyer, you can avoid potential traps and pitfalls and increase the odds that you will ultimately recover compensation.
Filing Your Intent to File
In many cases, your lawyer will start by submitting an intent to file a claim. This declaration shows you intend to move forward with an injury claim; you sustained injuries due to the negligence of another party and plan to pursue compensation for the damages that resulted from the accident and those injuries. Your intent to file will stop or toll the statute of limitations, allowing your lawyer more time to investigate the full extent of the damages you sustained and how the accident occurred.
That intent to file helps protect your right to file a claim but gives you more time to decide how you want to proceed. For example, you may need time to recover from your injuries before you are ready to move forward with your claim.
2. Start collecting evidence.
Evidence is critical to the claims process. Injury claims often involve considerable sums. You may have immense medical costs rising from treatment for your injuries. You may have to miss a great deal of work. Your lawyer will provide information about the evidence you need for your injury claim. In general, you can expect to need several key pieces of information. Provide your lawyer with any information you already have. Your lawyer will look for other evidence needed to establish your right to compensation, including evidence regarding the accident cause.
All Medical Bills You Paid or Received
Medical bills generally serve as the basis for an injury claim. While your claim may include other elements, like your lost wages and suffering, you must carefully demonstrate the extent of your medical bills so that you can lay them out for the insurance company.
Keep track of any medical bills you pay related to your accident. You may want to start a file with all the receipts from your past medical needs.
Make sure you include all the costs associated with your medical treatment, including:
- Your co-pays
- Any deductible amounts you have already paid
- Incoming bills for procedures and treatment
- The cost of durable medical equipment needed to aid in your recovery or to provide you with a greater overall level of independence
- The cost of in-home care, physical therapy, and other medical needs associated with your recovery
Make sure you include all bills associated with any given procedure. For example, you may receive an anesthesiologist’s bill and a surgeon’s bill if you had any surgical procedure performed to help recover from your injuries. You may also receive a separate bill from the hospital where you received treatment and the care provider that offered that treatment. Carefully document all these expenses to include them as part of your comprehensive injury claim.
Any Records Regarding Your Injuries
Keep track of any records your care provider might give you regarding your injuries. Did you have x-rays that show the extent of the damage? Reports from the emergency room? Copies of medical records? Keep track of all of that information. You may need to use it to establish the extent of your injuries and the suffering you faced.
Keep a photographic record of the progression of your recovery. Take pictures of your injuries in the days and weeks following your accident. You can use this information to help lay out your suffering later.
A Journal About Your Recovery
Keeping a journal about your recovery can offer many potential advantages. Often, it feels difficult to remember exactly when something occurred. When did you finally take your first steps off crutches or out of a wheelchair after a serious injury? When did you notice your memory starting to come back? How long did specific symptoms, especially those that led to immense challenges for you, drag on? Keeping this information in a journal can make it easier to look back on later.
Not only can your journal help you give more exact dates regarding your recovery, but it can also help provide insight into the suffering you faced. In many injury claims, your lawyer will encourage you to include compensation for your pain and suffering and the financial losses you sustained in the accident. It may prove easier to demonstrate the details of your suffering when you have a journal with evidence in your own words.
As part of your injury claim, you may have the right to include compensation for any wages you missed out on because of your recovery. Even a minor accident can result in days or weeks off work while you recover from your injuries. Your employer may have policies that prohibit you from working during your recovery or require you to have a doctor’s clearance before you get back on the job. Your employment records can help establish how many hours you missed at work, including whether you used things like vacation time to help cover your missing work hours.
Photos or Records from the Accident
In some cases, you may take photos of the accident, or you may have photos from friends and family members in the area. Provide your lawyer with these records. Furthermore, access any accident report related to the accident.
3. Work with your lawyer to put together a claim.
Your lawyer will work with you to ensure that you understand all the elements of compensation you should expect for your injuries. Your lawyer will put together a comprehensive claim laying out the key details the insurance company needs to decide your claim.
How did the accident occur?
First, your claim will state how the accident occurred, including who likely bears liability for the accident. It may include the evidence your lawyer collected about the scene of the accident: witness testimonies, photographic or video evidence, or expert witness testimony, for example.
Your lawyer will work to show how the party covered by the insurance policy caused or contributed to your accident. The more evidence your lawyer has to show who caused the accident, the easier it is to prove liability and necessary compensation.
What injuries did you sustain in the accident?
Your lawyer will work with you to lay out the injuries you sustained in the accident, your required treatment, and your suffering from the accident. Did you suffer a brain injury? Broken bones? Back or neck injuries? Your claim will lay out the extent of your damages, including any information about how your injuries took place and how the other party’s negligence caused the accident.
Your injuries serve an important purpose in your injury claim. If you did not suffer any injury in the accident, you might not have the right to claim compensation for the negligent party’s actions. While you can sometimes claim compensation for severe emotional trauma related to an accident, you have better odds of winning compensation when filing a full, comprehensive injury claim.
What compensation do you expect for your injuries?
Your injury claim will demonstrate the direct losses you sustained from your accident and the compensation you expect. In addition to your medical bills and direct medical-related costs, your lawyer will talk to you about any other losses you may have sustained: any wages lost because you could not return to work, for example. In addition, your lawyer will work with you to include compensation for pain and suffering. Your lawyer will then total up these amounts to determine the expected compensation for your injuries.
Once your lawyer compiles a demand package with all relevant information, your lawyer will submit that package to the insurance company. Then, you will wait for the insurance company to respond to the claim.
Once you submit a claim that includes the details of your accident, the insurance company will review that claim. In many cases, the insurance company may conduct its own investigation. Much of their investigation will take place during your lawyer’s initial investigation. However, in some cases, your lawyer may provide the insurance company with additional information that will require a fresh investigation or a new look at the details of your accident and claim.
Once the insurance company reviews your demand package and checks out any additional details, the insurance company will generally submit a counteroffer. That counteroffer may reflect the insurance company’s desires more heavily than yours. You may notice that the insurance company issues an offer significantly lower than your initial demand.
Your lawyer will help you review that offer and consider how it compares to the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Then, you can determine whether you want to accept the settlement offer on the table or if you prefer to send a counteroffer.
Often, the negotiation process can take several rounds. You may begin relatively far apart on the offer amount but gradually come closer together. A lawyer can help you determine when you should accept a settlement offer.
Do You Need a Lawyer to Claim Injury in an Accident?
Any time you suffer injuries in an accident, working with a lawyer can help give you a better idea of the compensation you deserve and provide you with a stronger foundation from which to pursue that compensation. Contacting a lawyer immediately after your accident increases the odds of recovering the full compensation you deserve. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer near you today to learn more.