A debilitating injury can come out of nowhere … perhaps in a car crash, or because of negligence on the part of a homeowner. If you were injured because of something that wasn’t your fault, you might well be entitled to various forms of compensation.
A personal injury claim can lead to a lawsuit, but it can take several weeks or months to settle the matter. The entire process may go more quickly and smoothly if you hire an attorney and comprehend the following seven key aspects of pursuing such a claim.
1. You need an attorney in your state
Your cousin, the personal injury attorney who lives in Virginia, won’t do you much good if you reside in Indiana. Laws specific to your case will apply to your case, such the time limit for filing a lawsuit or the amount your insurance is liable to pay for a vehicle collision.
An attorney in your state will know all the laws and procedures to follow for your personal injury case in Indiana, so find a qualified lawyer in your state.
2. There’s a statute of limitations for pursuing most lawsuits
You have only a certain number of years in which to file a personal injury claim before it expires. The time limit varies by state. In Indiana, for example, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years, whereas in Florida, it’s four.
This isn’t a problem for most people, since they typically decide to file a claim right after the injury occurs, but sometimes people wait a couple of years before making a claim. Perhaps your insurance refused to continue to make payments based on a technicality, or your injury resurfaced, and suddenly you have medical bills you can’t pay.
Whatever the reason for your delay in filing a personal injury suit, don’t let it fall outside of the statute of limitations for your state.
3. You shouldn’t owe anything until your case is won
It’s standard practice for personal injury attorneys to offer a free consultation on your case. They’ll discuss the proceedings from the present moment forward, and your chances of winning.
A good attorney won’t charge you until after he or she has won your case. Only then will your legal counsel take a percentage of the award.
For that reason, a personal injury attorney won’t usually accept your case if he or she believes you don’t have a chance of winning. Although that opinion can be disheartening, recognizing your chances of winning are slim to none can save you a lot of time and hassle over a lost cause.
4. You’ll need to collect evidence to support your claim
The more evidence you have, the better. Your attorney will want to see the police report from the incident, if there is one. This is why it’s essential to call the police when you’re involved in an accident.
The officials will file a report that can be used to support your case or defend you if you’re wrongfully accused of causing the crash.
If you have the presence of mind to do so, you should also take photographs and write down the names and numbers of witnesses you can contact later to support your case. Any photographs you took or names and numbers of witnesses you collected can be a huge help in winning your case.
5. Your personal injury claim doesn’t have to be against a person
A business or government organization can also be sued for personal injury compensation. It’s not uncommon for employers to provide inadequate coverage for an injury on the job, and you can sue them for the remaining damages. The statute of limitations here is the same as when you’re suing an individual.
If you’re suing a government entity, the statute of limitations will likely be much shorter. Again, this depends on your state, but it’s usually in the neighborhood of 30 days.
6. It’s wise to have a settlement in mind first
Although your attorney will assist you in calculating a suitable value for compensation, it’s always smart to go into your consultation with a number in mind. You can figure an amount based on your projected medical costs, lost wages, and altered way of life as a result of your injuries.
Your attorney might recommend speaking to a financial advisor to arrive at a realistic number. It’s always best to go to the adjustor with a high number rather than a low one. You can always negotiate down to a more reasonable level, but it’s a lot harder to try to negotiate upwards.
7. You shouldn’t feel guilty about pursuing compensation
Many people feel as if it’s greedy to pursue personal injury compensation. They may feel the impulse to “turn the other cheek.”
Although this is a noble response to a difficult situation, it doesn’t do most of the parties any good. The victims may have mounting medical bills, and if the injury is severe, it could cost you your way of life.
There’s nothing greedy or improper about pursuing compensation for your injury if it means you’ll be able to cover your medical bills and put food on the table following the injury.