You’re already dealing with the pain and recovery after an accident. The last thing you want to do is tackle the red tape of filing a personal injury claim. But in order to get compensation to cover your bills, that’s what has to happen.
The good news is that, with the right attorney, the process is easier than you might expect. Personal injury is a field of law that is hundreds of years old. During that time, the steps to file a claim have become streamlined.
Breaking down these steps one by one turns what seems confusing into a much easier process. When you’re ready to make a personal injury claim, follow this guide. It’ll help you take the focus off the legalities, so you can concentrate on healing.
Table of Contents
1. Start With the Insurance Companies
Before anyone can start leading you in the right direction to get your bills covered, you’ll need to file a claim. This means contacting the insurance companies involved.
This part can get a little confusing, depending on the type of personal injury. In a car accident, it’s usually clear. You’ll call your insurance, as well as the at-fault party’s.
In a slip-and-fall, though, the person or company who is responsible for your damages isn’t always who it looks like. To go ahead and get your medical bills covered, start by contacting your health insurance provider. Then, let your lawyer follow the trails to see who is ultimately at fault.
For more information on the different types of personal injury cases and how to file those claims, read this article by JT Legal Group.
2. Collect the Paperwork
You’re going to need evidence that your injury occurred the way you told the insurance adjuster. This proof is usually in the form of a police report and medical records.
Hold onto any documentation that can prove that the other party is at-fault, such as witness and police reports or photographs. Keep copies of your medical records and pictures that show proof of your injuries.
If you can’t work because of the accident, keep track of your lost wages, your pay stubs, medical expenses, and gas mileage to go to the doctor. Give all of this documentation to your attorney.
3. Evaluate and Negotiate Your Offers
When the accident is clearly the other party’s fault, you’ll probably get a lot of early settlement offers. If you don’t have an attorney, it can be tempting to accept less than what you are entitled to. This may put you in a bind later when you run out of your settlement and still have more medical bills to pay.
Your personal injury lawyer knows the ins and outs of dealing with insurance companies. He or she will review your case, the insurances involved, and how successful similar cases have been in court.
From there, you and your attorney can decide whether to accept the offer or try to negotiate a better one. This is done in a process called “mediation.” The goal of mediation is to come up with a mutually agreeable settlement amount that all parties are satisfied with.
Remember that once you agree to take a settlement, the insurance no longer has to pay for your medical claims or lost wages. An amount that sounds fair to you might not be that great when your lawyer breaks down how much you need to cover your future expenses.
If they don’t offer you a reasonable amount for your damages, your lawyer may suggest filing a lawsuit in court.
4. Head to Court as a Last Resort
The most common scenario in personal injury is a successful mediation. It’s easier and less costly for everyone involved. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to negotiate a mutual agreement in mediation, and the claim has to go to court.
When your case goes to trial, the evidence that has been collected will be provided. Witnesses will testify, and your attorney will argue that your injury was related to the at-fault party’s negligence.
The amount of compensation you receive, should you win your case, will then be determined by the judge and jury.
Each personal injury case is unique, but for the most part, they fall into similar categories. You don’t have to navigate this stressful time alone. There have been millions of lawsuits in the past to learn from.
Use these simple steps to make your claim and know what to expect once you do.