A Step-By-Step Guide to Filing a Personal Injury Claim
Anytime an individual suffers injuries in an accident that was the fault of another, they will likely be eligible to recover compensation via a personal injury claim. The process of filing a claim is relatively simple in theory, but in reality it can be very time consuming and stressful, especially if you don’t have the help of a legal professional at your disposal. An experienced personal injury lawyer, like those from Van Law Firm, can help you every step of the way.
That being said, what exactly does the claim process entail? Let’s take a closer look at how this process unfolds step-by-step:
1. Seek Medical Care As Soon As Possible
For the most part, personal injury claims are primarily centered around medical treatments and expenses. Once you’ve been injured in an accident, the first step should always be to receive medical attention as quickly as possible, even if there are no pressing symptoms. Accident victims will usually have a lot of adrenaline flowing for the first 24 hours or so after impact, which can mask a lot of injuries that may develop later on, such as concussions or whiplash. A comprehensive examination will do a good job of uncovering these latent injuries.
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Legally speaking, the reason why this step is important is because it helps to establish a good foundation for your claim. Medical expenses constitute the bulk of most claimants’ damages, and the easiest way for insurers and defense counsel to avoid paying full compensation is to downplay the severity of a claimant’s injuries. If you can show that you sought care right away, it becomes much harder to discredit your damages than if you wait until a later time.
2. Connect With a Trusted Personal Injury Lawyer to Help You File Your Claim
After you’ve received initial treatment, you’re going to want to retain an experienced and reputable personal injury lawyer to help you the rest of the way. While there is certainly no rule or law that mandates this, it all comes down to how much risk you are willing to take–on average, those who decide to handle their own case will recover about a third of what they would have with an attorney’s help, and that’s assuming that they recover anything at all. There’s a good chance you will only have one opportunity to recover the compensation you need, so you might as well give yourself the best chance of success by bringing your case to a trusted lawyer who has the expertise and resources to handle your claim effectively.
Once you’ve found an attorney you feel comfortable with, they will officially start the process of filing your claim by notifying all parties, including any insurers who may be involved. Some cases may settle right away and others will take a few more steps.
3. Diligently Follow All Treatment Plans and Keep All Records
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After you’ve retained an attorney and filed your claim, the next step is to follow all treatment plans and keep copies of any records that may pertain to your claim. This is an extension of Step 1 in the sense that the strength of your claim is somewhat dependent on your behavior and actions. If you diligently stay on top of your treatments, it shows that you are concerned about your health and that you are taking all the necessary steps to improve your condition. If you do not stay on top of treatments and take gaps, it hurts the validity of your claim, and it may prevent you from being approved for further treatment down the line.
You will want to keep copies of any relevant documents in order to stay on top of what’s going on with your case. Not only that, but sometimes you may need certain records to prove your claim, such as:
- Medical records and bills
- Prescription records and receipts
- Property damage repair bills
- Pay stubs to indicate lost wages
- Any correspondence from insurers
- Any correspondence from other parties involved
4. Negotiating a Settlement and the Process of Going to Trial
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The final step of a personal injury claim is to tally all of a claimant’s damages and negotiate a potential settlement with the insurer or party in question. This is perhaps the biggest reason why you should retain an attorney, as negotiations will ultimately make or break your claim. Overall, a large percentage of claims are settled outside of court, but if an agreement cannot be made, the claim will proceed to trial.
When a claim goes to trial it will essentially start over again, but this time with all the formalities of a courtroom. Depositions will be taken, evidence will be presented, and arguments will be made on both sides. Ultimately a judge or jury will decide what to award and to whom. Both attorneys and insurers will generally try to avoid litigation because of the time and expense involved, but sometimes there is simply no other way to resolve a claim.
Are You Considering a Personal Injury Claim? Contact Van Law Firm Today
Personal injury claims can be stressful, painful, and expensive, and if you try to go it alone, it will only add to those stressors. Instead, let the award-winning team of personal injury attorneys from Van Law Firm defend your rights and recover the compensation you deserve. Call our office nearest you today to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation and case review.
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