You may be wondering what steps to take next if you were injured in an accident. Most people think that they should only hire a personal injury lawyer if they intend to go to court. There are several other factors a personal injury lawyer can help you with including organizing your claim, preparing your case, dealing with insurance, and negotiating a settlement.
Personal injury lawyers help people who have suffered injuries in accidents to recover payment for bills and loss of wages. They specialize in several different types of injuries including automobile and transportation accidents, slip and falls, medical malpractice, wrongful death, workplace injuries, nursing home abuse, or defective products. They are well versed in personal injury law and know how to pursue your case to get you as much financial compensation as possible.
Here are four ways a personal injury lawyer will help you after you get hurt.
Determine the Best Course of Action
A personal injury lawyer will help you organize your case and determine the best course of action. First, the lawyer needs to determine who is at fault for the accident. This is needed because it lets them know who is responsible for paying for your injuries and bills. To do this, the lawyer will look at the facts of the case to see the nature of the accident, the events that led up to the accident, and who was ultimately at fault.
Second, the lawyer needs to determine the value of your injury claim. Compensation for your claim is called damages in court. Economic damages are financial losses like medical bills, out of pocket payments, or lost wages. Non-economic damages are things like pain and suffering, humiliation, loss of enjoyment, or disfigurement. Finally, it may be possible in some cases to seek punitive damages. In Pennsylvania, these are a financial punishment to the responsible party if their behavior at the time of the accident was malicious or willful.
Prepare Your Case
The next step is to collect evidence to prove that the person responsible was at fault. Evidence can include photographs of the accident scene, police reports, testimony from witnesses, history of other related accidents, or even statements from others involved in the accident. Evidence depends on the type of case. For example, if the injury was caused by a defective product, this may include a history of the product, proof of a recall on the product, or evidence to show if the defect was a design or manufacturing flaw.
Collecting medical, billing, and other records is also important. This provides proof of the extent of the injury and treatment. There is a big difference in liability costs if your injury will heal quickly versus an injury that has caused a long-term disability. The billing and other records show the cost of your medical treatment and other expenses. For example, you could request payment for vehicle repair if you were injured in an automobile accident. Additionally, these records can prove that long-term care may be needed in the future.
Deal With Insurance
Despite what advertisements say, insurance companies are not always on your side. Both your insurance carrier and the insurance for anyone else involved in the accident have the same goal. They want to settle the claim quickly and with as little cost as possible. Insurance carriers have teams of attorneys who do this type of work all day. While you can do this on your own, you will get better results if you have a knowledgeable attorney to represent your side.
A personal injury lawyer will help you submit the most compelling case to the insurance company. Your attorney will demand that the company compensate you for any damages you are owed. Typically this process can have several rounds of negotiations including offers and counteroffers.
Settlement or Litigation
A personal injury lawyer will attempt to first get a settlement. A settlement is an agreement between two parties that covers costs and monetary payments without going to court. Be prepared for the fact that most settlements have a stipulation that payment does not mean the other party is admitting liability or guilt. This settlement is a negotiation process and it can be with either insurance carriers or other individuals or companies involved in the accident.
If the settlement is unsuccessful, the final step will be to go to trial. A personal injury lawyer will guide you through the process which can include filing numerous documents, discovery of evidence, depositions of experts and witnesses, and the actual trial. During the trial, your personal injury attorney will advocate on your behalf to make sure that you recover the maximum amount of damages you are owed.