Understanding how to navigate a personal injury claim can be confusing and frustrating. Personal injuries are not just from vehicle accidents. Some other claims can come from premises liability (slip and falls), products liability, dog bites, work related injuries, and any other injury that can be attributed to another party. If you think you have been harmed by the negligence of someone else, try to follow the checklist below.
You Have a Limited Time to File a Lawsuit
The statute of limitations in Georgia is basically two years from the date of injury. Failure to file a lawsuit within this two year period could result in you losing your rights to file a claim. However, this period can she shortened or extended based on whether a government agency is at fault and whether the injured party is a minor. Its important to know the statute and circumstances of your case to ensure you do not lose the opportunity to file a claim.
The Sooner You Call a Lawyer the Better
Be cautious when talking to insurance companies, even your own, some members of law enforcement, to potential witness, and even family and friends. Even if you are the victim, you could misspeak and decrease the chances of receiving the settlement you deserve. This happens more often than you may think. Don’t sign anything or agree to any recorded conversations with any third parties until you have discussed it with your personal injury lawyer.
Seek Medical Attention
This should be the first thing you do; if not the second only behind seeking legal counsel. You may not think you are injured, but some injuries do not manifest until hours or days later. While you should ensure the health care providers know how you got injured, be advised that some providers will refuse to treat you if your injuries are related to a potential personal injury. This mainly applies to private providers. Emergency departments will treat you regardless of how your injury occurred. A personal injury attorney can help you find medical care if your regular doctor is not willing to treat you. The most important thing is to focus on your health.
Look for Personal Injury Lawyers Who Offer a “No Fee Guarantee”
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis which means you only pay if you win your case; through settlement or jury award. The lawyer’s fee will be paid directly from your settlement amount. You pay nothing out of pocket. These contingency personal injury law firms are quite common and you can find them with a simple search online. Ask the firm if they work on a contingency basis. Expenses and costs to litigate your case will be paid only if your case is successful.
Pain & Suffering Is a Broad Label
Pain and suffering can include mental distress and physical injuries suffered as a result of the incident as well as other life-altering changes that resulted from the accident. Pain and suffering is usually calculated using the total medical bills multiplied by the severity of subjective distress which is decided on a scale of 1 to 5. Personal injury lawsuit settlement amounts can and will vary because each individual case is unique.
You Have to Follow Instructions Carefully
Follow instructions from your doctor and your lawyer. All medical advice, rehabilitation exercises, and restrictions must be adhered to while the case is ongoing. Be sure to follow all medical advice after the case is over; you cannot ask for more money for further injuries after a case has already been settled. Always check with your lawyer before signing anything related to the case and be sure to follow your lawyer’s advice and guidance carefully as well.
Keep All Your Documentation
You will receive lots of physical documents and receipts as well as lots of emails and electronic documents. It’s important that you keep track of them all. This can be tough, especially over prolonged periods of time. The best method to ensure you keep track of all of your documents is to scan in each document and save them as a PDF. If this is not an option for you, then try to purchase a large file folder where you can keep every document in one place. Your attorney can scan your documents in for you, so try to ensure your lawyer is given a new document whenever they come available. This will ensure that your file will be ready to submit to the insurance company or defense attorney for settlement consideration after treatment has concluded.
You Have to Represent the Issues Correctly
Avoid social media and posting photos or updates that downplay your injury. It will be held against you. Avoid minimizing your issues. If you are in pain, you must speak up. You should not feel ashamed of getting the compensation that you deserve. However, don’t over exaggerate your injuries, this could call your character into question and lead to less compensation.
Personal Injury Cases Can Take Time to Settle
Most cases are settled out of court, however, choosing an attorney that knows how to case a case to trial is extremely important. Insurance companies and defense firms know whether or not an attorney has litigated previous cases and will try to low ball those attorneys who are not known to litigate cases. Cases are not ready to settle or go to court until you have finished treating for your injuries. In some cases, discovery is required and that period can range from six months to a year. Once a case has resolved, it can take up to thirty days to receive a settlement check. The law firm will have to ensure all medical liens are paid, along with any other liens, expenses and costs, before the client can receive their portion of the settlement funds. Regardless, you should receive funds within 60 days, on average, after the case has settled. Your attorney can give you more details.