Accidents cost people more than their physical and mental well-being. The damage can take a financial toll on them as well. Many victims spend thousands of dollars on medical treatment and property repairs. Consequently, they could find their bank accounts in the negative.
The law can alleviate some monetary concerns with a way for people to get compensation. If you have a valid case, you can start a claim. You need a lawyer to answer your questions and handle the claim for you. One inquiry might involve the worth of your accident injury claim.
Examples of Accident Injury Claims
Slip and Fall Accidents
Slips and falls can happen anywhere and to anyone. Someone could slip at work or in a grocery store. Water, grease, or other substances make the ground slippery for people. Property owners must ensure the area is safe. They need to clean up hazards or display proper warning signs.
Motor Vehicle Collisions
Car accidents can range from a fender bender to a rollover. Over 4.4 million people suffer from acute injuries, and another 38,000 fatalities occur annually. A collision can be the result of a variety of causes. Heavy rain, icy roads, distractions, and alcohol consumption are common reasons a crash ensues.
In most reported cases, one of the drivers acted carelessly leading up to the accident. However, the government or a manufacturer could have been negligent.
Misconceptions About Accident Injury Claims
Accident injury lawsuits cover a wide variety of injuries. You can begin the process of a claim for the chance to get the money you need. When people become familiar with personal injury laws, they learn a lot of information. Nevertheless, misconceptions can confuse people.
A few common assumptions are:
- You do not need a lawyer for minor injuries. Some people do not contact an attorney since they did not experience severe harm. However, even minor injuries may require a trip to the emergency room and further testing. The costs add up, and a lawyer helps you file a claim regardless of the damage severity.
- Accident injury claims take years to resolve. Several complicated cases last multiple years, especially if they have aggressive defendants. However, most lawsuits end after a reasonable amount of time. Claims usually take several months to about a year. Your attorney works hard to resolve matters efficiently.
- You have enough time to file a lawsuit. The statute of limitations dictates how long you have. Most people only have a few years, and time can go by quickly. You need to begin the process as soon as you can. An exception to the deadline may apply, but you need to consult an attorney to know for sure.
A meeting with an accident injury lawyer helps you understand the facts of your case. You can proceed with your claim with confidence if you have a firm by your side.
Your lawyer adds up the economic damages for an accurate payout. The average expense of emergency room care for nonfatal injuries is about $6,620. Hospitalization increases how much you need to pay. Severe traumatic events usually lead to higher medical costs.
An injury like a spinal cord injury needs continuous care. Prescription medication and medical devices contribute to your claim’s worth. You should see a doctor right away to help ensure you get enough money in a settlement.
Many injured people cannot go back to work for a while. You can present your attorney with pay stubs as proof of lost income. Debilitating injuries affect a person’s ability to earn wages in the future. The lost income adds to the overall settlement.
Property damage increases the value of an accident injury case. You should keep copies of any repair bills you acquire. If the victim died due to the traumatic event, you could claim funeral and burial expenses.
Courts cannot quantify non-economic damages as easily as economic ones. However, they generally try to provide a fair measurement. An accident can cause emotional distress in the victim. If the bodily harm leads to disfigurement, someone’s mental health can decline.
You can claim damages for loss of enjoyment of life, physical impairment, and pain and suffering. The death of a loved one has another set of non-economic damages. Depending on the person, the lawsuit’s worth increases with the loss of services or companionship.
Many states place a cap on non-economic damages. The caps limit how much you can receive in a settlement.
Additional Contributing Factors
Other factors include who the party is in a lawsuit. Major companies, government entities, and defendants with plenty of resources impact a claim’s worth. You might win more funds from a company than an individual with little to no assets. Of course, multiple at-fault parties can mean a higher value.
Your claim’s worth can depend on the availability of insurance. Your policy might cover a portion of damages—but has a limit. The defendant might have no insurance coverage as well. If you file a lawsuit against them, you might not receive much money in a settlement.
You can ask your lawyer to estimate how much compensation to pursue.
Arguments From the Defendant
A payout could be worth a lot of money, and the other party’s insurance company usually issues the check. You can expect the defendant to contest one or more allegations against them.
Common defenses the opposing party might use are:
- Pre-existing conditions. The defendant might argue that a pre-existing condition led to your injuries. Their attorney could question the exact nature of your injuries. Additionally, the insurance might ask you to sign a medical release form. However, a previous condition could have worsened because of the defendant’s negligence.
- You were aware of the risks. The other side tries to avoid liability with the argument you knew of the dangers. Accidents in a gym, at a pool, or hazardous workplace might involve the defense tactic. They need to show you had actual knowledge and accepted the risks.
- Expired statute of limitations. In some cases, people do not realize they got injuries from an accident until years later. The deadline likely has passed by the time the person files a claim. The defendant can get the court to dismiss the case. However, the law allows an exception under a few circumstances.
If the plaintiff is not careful, the other side could convince the judge to throw out the case. An accident injury lawyer is beneficial because they protect you from defense arguments.
What Should You Do After an Accident?
Accidents are stressful situations, but you should remain as calm as possible. What to do after a traumatic event may vary based on the type of incident. For example, a person should call the police following a case of negligent security or a car crash.
In general, an injured person’s actions can help with their recovery and accident injury claim.
One of the first steps to take after an accident is to document evidence. Take multiple photos or record a video of the scene to present a clear idea of what happened. The court can see if the area lacked proper security or if a wet floor had no sign.
Photos should include any property damage and visible wounds. They protect you if an insurance company claims you exaggerated your injuries.
Talk to Witnesses
Check to see if anyone was around to witness the accident. You can get their statements at a later date to build your case. Generally, you should talk to them and ask for their contact information. If the police arrived, you could locate any witnesses with the police report.
See a Doctor
Once you leave the accident scene, visit the nearest clinic or hospital. Most injuries require treatment immediately for a better recovery. The shock and adrenaline tend to block awareness of pain. You may not notice anything is wrong until the feelings wear off.
Additionally, you might discover a condition you did not see. People might not notice head or neck injuries for days. Early treatment prevents symptoms from worsening. Even if you believe something is minor, you should tell a doctor about any issues you have.
Be Careful About What You Share
Do not speak to anyone else about the details of the accident. The opposing attorney or insurance agent may attempt to convince you to explain your version of events. The goal is to use what you say to hurt your claim. Additionally, be mindful of what you share with friends, family, and on social media.
Hire a Lawyer
If you suspect another party was at fault, you should find an attorney. You can schedule a consultation to talk about your options. A lawyer can help you file an accident injury claim.
Who Has the Burden of Proof?
Similar to criminal cases, the burden of proof lies with the plaintiff. The injured person is the one who makes an allegation against someone else. As a result, the plaintiff has to support an accusation with evidence to get compensation. Unlike a criminal trial, you only need to prove the defendant more than likely was negligent.
To meet the standard of the burden of proof, you have to satisfy each element of negligence. An accident injury claim contains four legal elements. One is to establish how the other party owed you a duty of care. The duty of care depends on the type of lawsuit.
The second step is to explain how the defendant violated their duty of care. The person acted carelessly or did not act in time. As a result, the accident occurred. Then, the injured party must link the breach in duty of care to their injuries. The other side could claim a pre-existing condition is the reason why your health deteriorated.
The last element is the connection between your injuries and the accumulated damages. Medical and repair bills help show you suffered from losses. Once you meet the burden of proof, the judge or jury decides the defendant is liable. The help from an attorney increases the possibility of success.
How Long Do You Wait for a Settlement Check?
Insurance companies want to close a claim as quickly as they can. However, many providers wait until plaintiffs sign the release form before sending a check. You can expect to receive compensation within several weeks. First, the defendant’s insurer has to process the signed release form.
The check goes through the mail and most likely arrives at your lawyer’s office. The attorney places the funds into an escrow account. After the check clears, they deduct some money for lawyer fees and costs.
Additionally, your lawyer may use a part of the settlement to pay any unpaid debts or liens. Then, they mail you your compensation. You can get one payment as a lump sum or multiple checks in a structured settlement.
Delays can happen during the settlement process. Your lawyer can keep you updated about the progress of your check.