Read these 9 Personal Injury Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Personal Injury tips and hundreds of other topics.
As you are recovering from an injury, televised attorney ads seem so believable. What they are not telling you is that they will take 1/3 of your settlement money (if the case is settled, if not, they may take 40 percent if it goes to trial), and that there is no guarantee that the other party legally owes you ANYTHING. You may wind up paying the attorney fees you wouldn't have otherwise incurred. Whenever you see the motto, "Large and small, we take them all" on an attorney's billboard, know that they take every case, because every case is a gamble, and you are the dice. Adjusters see some attorneys repeatedly, using the same doctors over and over. These doctors use the same diagnostic codes, the same treatments, and the same reports, without fail. You did not win the lottery if you get rear-ended in your car. You got a damaged car, an injury, and a hassle. You can lessen the hassle for yourself and others by getting your car fixed, going through your own carrier, having your carrier subrogate, notifying the other driver's carrier of your injury, if they haven't contacted you already (and they should have), and keeping them informed of your treatment. Open lines of communication always work. Don't get frustrated if the adjuster doesn't immediately return calls. On a bad weather day, he or she may receive thirteen new losses, with at least 26 new people to contact (both drivers) with auto inspections to be set up, plus passengers, witnesses, etc., along with any other liability clams the adjuster receives, making it extremely difficult for contact to be made. This is reality. However, keeping your emotions under control and remaining a reasonable individual to deal with will help all involved and will make the claim process go smoothly.
Personal injury law spans many different facets in a variety of areas in civil court. Generally, personal injury cases happen when one party suffers harm from an accident or an injury and another party can be considered legally responsible. Most personal injury law is dealt with by attorneys who are able to take legal action so that you can recover damages. These legal actions can happen as a settlement outside of court, or as an actual lawsuit in front of a judge and/or jury.
There are times when the defendant in a personal injury case will be an entity of the government (state or federal). In this case, the guidelines for filing claims and the laws are different than if it was just a lawsuit against a private party. You will have from between 30 days to one year to file your claim against the government, depending on your location. The types of personal injuries that tend to fall in this area are accidents regarding government buildings, schools, school buses and also on roadways and streets. You will need to contact your city or county's attorney's office in order to find out the exact statute of limitations, or better yet, have your qualified personal injury lawyer do it for you.
One of the most important witnesses in your personal injury claim is a reputable doctor. If you have been injured (whether you have a legal case or not) you should get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible. Some injuries can get worse if not treated promptly, and it is good to have a medical record of your injury from the beginning. If your injury is very severe and you must immediately go to the hospital, make sure when you are well enough that you contact the hospital for any records regarding your treatment. A doctor will be able to tell you if there will be any lasting damage from your accident, as well as what treatment you will need in the present and future. A doctor will also be able to refer you to appropriate therapists and specialists if needed. If you do need further treatment, make sure you get copies of all your medical records for your legal case.
Defamation is when an individual makes a statement about another that could be considered harmful to their reputation. For instance, you would not want to go around saying "My neighbor, Mr. XYZ, let his vicious dogs out on purpose to hurt me!" if it is not true. This can be damaging to Mr. XYZ's reputation, and as it is not based on truth (because, for instance, the dogs got out on their own), you are committing defamation. Mr. XYZ could then sue you for defaming his character. Personal injury lawsuits can get especially heated, so it is always a good idea to choose your words with care.
Some personal injury lawyers require a "retainer", which is an amount of money that the lawyer takes in downpayment for their services. They will then charge you the balance of their hourly fees and other expenditures at the end of working for you. Some personal injury attorneys choose not to use the retainer-type payment system, instead allowing you to pay them once you have received your settlement from the other party. This is called working on "contingency", and the lawyer does not get paid unless you win your lawsuit. Beware that the lawyer in contingency cases may end up getting 40% of your monetary compensation, so make sure you know all the details before signing any legal agreements.
Many times, you as the injured party in a personal injury lawsuit have the ability to make monetary claims against the other party for more than just medical bills. Here are some other areas you may be entitled to money from: Loss of Wages - If the personal injury caused you to miss work or lose a job, you may be able to be compensated for that. Future Medical Bills - If you are going to need ongoing care because of your injury, you may be able to get payments for the future. Disfigurement - If the accident or injury left you with scars, or damaged body parts, you may be able to get monetary compensation for the loss of your normal abilities.
There are a few steps you should take immediately upon realizing you have a personal injury case. Aside from going to a doctor and hiring a personal injury attorney, you should make sure to document everything surrounding the personal injury incident. Take photos of any injuries (personal or on property) and write down your own account of what happened while it is still fresh in your mind. Collect any other physical evidence, and speak to any eyewitnesses to the accident. Notify your insurance companies of what happened, and also have your legal counsel notify any other involved parties of your intent to file a legal claim. This way you have covered all of your bases, legally, so that you will be able to have a strong personal injury case.
As legal systems differ slightly from state to state, the laws governing personal injury vary as well. There is a difference in the amount of time you have to file a claim, known as the "statute of limitations". This can be from as short as one year in Kentucky and Tennessee to as long as six years in Maine and North Dakota. Interestingly, even though there are these time limits on filing personal injury lawsuits, in most states the amount of time you have to claim personal injury starts when you learned you were harmed. For instance, if you learned you had cancer from benzene exposure eight years ago, you could still file a claim against the company that exposed you. The claim is still valid because you just found out recently that the benzene caused cancer.