Being involved in an accident is never good. Accidents are usually devastating that cause serious and severe injuries and damage to the individuals involved. Accidents caused due to the negligence of someone else leave you overwhelmed and confused with many questions in mind.
Questions like “why did this happen to me?”, “ how do I hold the party at fault responsible for the accident?” and “how can I recover the compensation from this?” continue to circulate in your mind.
There are various types of damages that you can sustain due to someone’s negligence, and it’s your right to recover compensation from them. This article will attempt to answer the questions you have in your mind. So before we talk about the personal injury claiming process, let’s look at what personal injury is.
What is a personal injury, and who deals with cases of personal injury?
Personal injury is a legal term given to bodily harm. You can be hit from behind while driving on the road and sustain a whiplash or lower back injury. This injury is considered a personal injury. Or you or your loved one could be misdiagnosed by a health care doctor and get hurt due to the malpractice; this is also personal injury.
Or you could slip and fall at work and get injuries due to it; that’s also personal injury. There are various forms of personal injuries. And the legal professional who deals with these cases is a personal injury lawyer.
They will set up and process your claim so that it is supported by evidence and facts, negotiate with insurance companies, help you take care of property damage, help you get the medical treatment you need to fully recover, and get you the rightful compensation you deserve.
Without any legal aid, you may be unable to process your claim or negotiate with insurance companies that will most likely take advantage of you. There are several reasons why you need an experienced personal injury lawyer when it comes to personal injury cases.
Do you need to hire a personal injury lawyer?
When you are involved in a personal injury case, you are most likely going up against an insurance company that has its own team of highly qualified and experienced lawyers. If you represent yourself, it will be very easy for them to undermine you and your case because you do not know anything about the complicated law.
They will deny liability and try to put the blame on you or get out of it by paying you as little as possible. This is why you need to have legal representation on your side when you go up against them. Experienced personal injury attorneys will never let them take advantage of you.
They know the law, and they will try everything to get you the maximum compensation possible. But even if you are going to hire a lawyer, there are some things you need to know about the claim process.
How much can you recover from your personal injury claim?
If you want to know about this, then you or your loved one have probably been involved in an accident where you suffered serious injuries that require extensive medical care and treatment.
So the best way to obtain compensation for your damages is by taking a personal injury action. But before that, you need to know the various types of damages that you can seek in your claim and how much you can recover from each of them.
Types of damages
There are two main types of damages that you can seek in a personal injury action, including compensatory and punitive damages. Continue reading to learn more about them.
1. Compensatory damages
Compensatory damages can be further classified into two types.
i. Actual or special damages
These are the damages that can be compensated for the monetary expenses the victim suffered due to the accident. These damages are straightforward and easy to understand, as there is a specific dollar amount attached to them. This means that you can easily calculate the damage in terms of money because these damages are usually quantifiable. The most common types of actual or special damages include:
- Medical bills
- Ambulance services
- Medical treatment
- Rehabilitation or physical therapy bills
- Nursing home care
- Loss of wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Property damages
ii. General damages
In contrast to actual damages, these damages are more subjective and much more difficult to quantify because these damages are not visible and do not consist of actual monetary loss. They also differ from individual to individual.
This is why they are known as general injuries. All accident victims usually sustain at least some of these general damages. The most common general damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional and mental distress
- Loss of physical and mental capacity
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of consortium
2. Punitive damages
Compensatory damages are meant to compensate the victim, but punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant for their vicious, negligent, and reckless behavior in hopes of discouraging them in the future.
This is in addition to the general compensatory damages, and the defendant needs to pay them to the victim. These damages are usually awarded in cases where the conduct and behavior of the defendant were particularly intentional, cruel, criminal, or condemnable.
It is also given in order to send a warning message to society at large that such conduct will lead to serious consequences.
What you need to know about the claim process?
Whether you are involved in a slip and fall accident or a car accident, you as a victim will think that you have only two options, either let the insurance company deal with it or go to trial in court.
But this is not the case; you have a lot more control over the claim process. But usually, the process is difficult to deal with, especially if you have sustained severe injuries in the accident. If you are unsure about what to do, you can always get help from personal injury lawyers.
You do not have to accept the offer made by the insurance company
Insurance companies are quick to act and attempt to settle the claim as soon as possible. Due to this, the offers they make are made before accurate physical injuries and damages are known. If you accept this offer, you can no longer hold them liable later on when you get to know the full extent of your injuries.
If you are offered a settlement early in the case, then it is recommended to decline the offer unless you are sure about the extent of your injuries and you know how long it will take to fully recover—moreover, it’s also common for insurance companies to offer a low settlement further in the process. But you do not have to accept them and negotiate with them to get just compensation.
Doing so can be difficult; you will need to know the law to build a strong case and file a claim that is supported by strong evidence. This is why an experienced lawyer can help you navigate this process and get you the best compensation.
Settlement is reached through negotiation
There is a high probability of you negotiating with the insurance company to reach a settlement because they will be unwilling to pay the full amount you have demanded. This negotiation process takes time since you need to present a persuasive argument as to why you should get the amount you have made in the claim.
The insurance company will not offer an explanation for why they are willing to pay a specific amount. They may try to delay your case as much as you can. But you need to stand your ground in order to reach a settlement that is best for you.
This process can be properly dealt with if you have a skilled and experienced lawyer by your side who knows how to negotiate to get the maximum compensation possible.
Gather as much evidence as you can
After the accident, it’s crucial to gather as much evidence as possible because this evidence will back up your claim later on. You need to take pictures of the
- Physical damages you sustained like the damage to your vehicle
- Injuries you sustained
- The location where the accident happened
- Vehicle of the other party, its number plate
- Road and surrounding areas
All these pictures will help you and your lawyer understand what happened and create a strong claim. Moreover, you also need to ask for contact information, license information, and insurance information from the other party involved in the accident.
You also need to take a copy of the police report from the police officer on site. In addition to this, you will need to get your injuries checked by health care professionals in order to determine the extent of your injuries. You will need to document all your medical reports and medical bills as evidence.
Don’t undermine the power of a witness statement
Accidents are usually devastating events that happen in a split second. The parties involved in the accident are usually unsure about what happened or how it happened. After the accident, neither party wants to take liability willingly and thus may offer a biased version of what happened.
Moreover, the injuries sustained in these accidents usually do not let the victim give a correct statement. This is why you need a witness statement, which will help in establishing facts that will prove the cause and the liability of the accident. A witness could have:
- Seen the exact place where you slipped and fell
- Seen the color of the traffic light in an intersection accident
- Seen which vehicle took a wrong turn or drove recklessly to cause an accident
If you have been injured in an accident, it’s essential for you to get the name and contact information of witnesses. This will allow you to interview them and take their statement that can work in your favor.
Witnesses are neutral third parties who are just observers of the accident and do not have any interest in who was at fault or what will happen to your case. A witness statement is a crucial piece of evidence that can support your claim and thus should not be overlooked.
In some cases, it’s best to go to trial in court
In some cases where negotiation doesn’t work or due to some other factor, filing a lawsuit can be the best option you have in order to recover the compensation needed for your medical bills and other damages since the law and its system is a complex where minor mistakes can negatively affect your case, it’s best to consult with your personal injury lawyer before you file a lawsuit.
Get help from a personal injury lawyer
From gathering evidence, getting a solid witness statement to negotiating with insurance companies, and ensuring your rights are protected is extremely complicated. You need solid evidence to make a claim for compensation; this is why the evidence needs to be powerful, witness statements need to be straightforward and clear, your physical damage needs to be calculated correctly, and your rights need to be protected while doing all this.
Moreover, filing a claim entails proper paperwork, submission before deadlines, and follow-ups. For all this, an experienced personal injury lawyer from The Silkman Law Firm is important. They know how to handle these cases because they have a history of dealing with these scenarios.
They can easily interview witnesses and get concise but powerful statements. They know what to ask, how to analyze your case, how to find strong evidence, and how to strengthen your claim. All this is possible because of their knowledge, skills, and experiences, as well as the contacts and resources that are at their disposal. They can easily show you the legal options you have in your case and then help you choose the right one.
The bottom line
If you have sustained injuries due to the negligence of someone else, then you deserve rightful compensation for the losses incurred.
If you or your loved one have been injured in an accident, whether it be a slip and fall or motor vehicle accident, and you are worried about how to recover the full amount of compensation for your damages, then you need to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer.
He/she will help you build a strong case backed by strong evidence and assist you throughout the case to get you the compensation you deserve.
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