What Steps to Take When You Have a Personal Injury Claim
Every year, the US experiences about 6 million car accidents, with 3 million people sustaining injuries from those accidents. If you’re lucky enough to come out of a car accident alive, you're not out of the woods yet. You still have to recuperate from your injuries and foot the medical bills, plus pay for any repairs to your car.
Thankfully, your car insurance provider will step in to take care of your medical bills and other expenses. You’ll first have to file a personal injury claim to receive any compensation for your accident. However, the process isn’t as straightforward as most people think.
If you’re having trouble filing your personal injury claim, worry not; we’re here to help. Today’s post is a step-by-step guide on how you can file your personal injury claim.
The first step in filing your personal injury claim is to consult with a reputable car accident attorney. Despite clients paying their premiums on time, insurance companies are usually reluctant to pay out settlements to their clients. Consulting with an attorney will help you chart the best way forward, following your accident.
The attorney will first try to get specifics about the road accident that led to the injuries. Some of them include:
- How much it costs to treat your injuries
- The severity of your injuries
- Whether there’s a defendant that you can seek compensation from
- Whether there was any negligence by the other party
- What legal options you have
Most attorneys offer free consultations before they can move forward with your case. Talk to your attorney before moving to the next step.
Car Accident Investigation
The next step will involve your attorney carrying out a comprehensive investigation into the car accident that led to your injuries. They will carry out this exercise independently, with no interference from external parties.
The investigation involves looking into police reports, medical records, and witness accounts of the accident. The attorney will also examine your employment history and earning power to help determine how much compensation you’re eligible for. Sometimes, the attorney might work with accident reconstruction experts and other experts to clearly understand the circumstances leading to the accident.
The attorney will also obtain data from the vehicle’s black box if the car had one. Sometimes, surveillance cameras might have captured the car accident. In such cases, the attorney also obtains footage from these cameras.
Diligent attorneys might also want to personally contact key witnesses in the car accident.
The Demanding Package
The third step involves demanding settlement from your insurance provider in a letter that outlines your case, liability, and damages. However, you don’t have to always address the latter to the insurance company. In cases of negligence, you can address the letter to the negligent party.
The insurance company or other party will review the letter and either reject or accept it. Alternatively, they can decide to make a counteroffer for the amount you quoted. Again, the car accident attorney will be integral in writing the demand letter and responding to it.
The demand letter is one of the most important parts of the claims process. That’s because it forms the first impression you make on the insurance company or the negligent party. You need to carefully word the letter to avoid any legal ramifications.
You’ll have to work with the attorney to craft a clear, and well-worded letter to the concerned party. The claims process may terminate at this phase if both parties are satisfied with the offer. If not, you’ll have to file a personal injury suit in a court of law.
Filing the Personal Injury Suit
The fourth step is pretty straightforward and involves filing a lawsuit seeking compensation for the accident. What follows is the discovery phase.
The Discovery Phase
The discovery phase involves both parties trying to gather as much evidence as possible from the accident. In doing so, they can invalidate the other party’s argument. Attorneys must ace the discovery phase to ensure they have a solid case for the accident.
Before you file the lawsuit, a mediator will step in to try and reconcile you with the opposing party. The mediation process is informal, and both parties will try to reach an agreement. It helps to prevent the case from moving to trial.
Attorneys play a crucial part in the mediation process. That’s because it’s easy for the insurance company to hoodwink unsuspecting claimants. Sign the wrong document and you could walk away with nothing from your personal injury claim.
The attorney will help you navigate the mediation and ensure you don’t get the short end of the stick. If mediation fails, the case will proceed to trial.
If both parties can’t come to an agreement, the case moves to trial. The trial involves both the plaintiff, defendant, judge, and jury. Both parties present their cases and the jury evaluates them.
The jury will determine fault and possibly award damages to the faulted party. There’s no guarantee that the trial will go your way. Without the right attorney by your side, you could be left picking up the scraps.
Let’s say that the case didn’t go your way. If you feel hard done by the jury, you can appeal the case. The appellate process is unlike a typical trial, so you might need a lawyer that has experience with appeal cases. Again, there’s no guarantee that you'll win the appeal, but it’s worth a shot.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim Made Easy
The information above should help you with filing your personal injury claim. Remember, a lawyer will be invaluable in helping you get the compensation you deserve. Find a qualified and experienced car accident attorney, to better your chances of the claim sailing through.
For more informative content, check out the other posts on the site.
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