Have you ever walked into a store or restaurant only to slip and fall over an obstruction? About 700 people die every year from a fall. Another 48,000 people are badly injured.
A serious injury can lead to missing days at work, lost wages, or serious disability.
Slip and fall incidents are only one type of personal injury. About 90 people die in car crashes each day. About 2 million people sustain permanent injuries.
Were you injured due to someone else’s negligence? It’s important to contact a lawyer and build your personal injury case right away. By filing a lawsuit, you can receive the compensation you need to cover your losses.
Waiting too long can cause the statute of limitations to lapse. You won’t have a chance to fight for your rights.
Discover what you need to do following a personal injury incident with this helpful guide today!
What to Do After an Incident
There are different types of personal injury cases you can pursue. First, you need to determine what type of case you have. For example, a few personal injury case examples include:
- Motor vehicle accidents (motorcycle, car, and truck accidents)
- Medical malpractice (pharmacy errors, misdiagnosis, improper treatment, surgical errors, birth injuries, failure to diagnose)
- Wrongful deaths (car crashes, construction accidents, medical malpractice cases)
- Workplace accidents
- Premise liability
- Products liability
- Animal and dog bites
- Nursing home neglect and abuse
- Aviation and boating accidents
- Brain, birth, burn, and spinal cord injuries
- Food poisonings
- Legal malpractice
Differentiating between the different types of personal injury cases can help you determine what type of lawyer you need.
1. Gather Evidence
If you’re in an accident, it’s important to gather evidence of what happened right away. You’ll need this evidence to build your case and support your side of the story. Otherwise, your lawyer might have a difficult time building your case.
A jury might struggle to believe your side of the story as well.
First, assess what happened. Do you know what caused your accident?
If you were in a slip-and-fall accident, look around. What caused you to trip? Is there water on the floor, a loose wire, or another obstruction?
If you were in a car crash, consider your environment. Was it raining or sunny during the crash? Was there an issue with your vehicle?
Take photos of your surroundings. If you know what caused the accident, take photos of that as well. Make sure to take these photos immediately following the incident.
Otherwise, the environment might change. For example, a property owner might move the obstruction that caused you to slip.
If your personal injury case involves a car crash, take photos of the vehicles involved in the crash. Was anything else damaged? Were you injured?
Take photos of your surroundings, including street signs and nearby buildings.
Did someone witness what happened? Witnesses can help provide a voice to personal injury cases. Make sure to gather their contact information.
Gathering evidence will help support any claims you make during your personal injury case.
2. Consult a Doctor
Falls account for 8 million emergency room visits every year. In fact, falls are the leading reason for emergency room visits. Slip and falls, on the other hand, account for 1 million visits.
Visiting a doctor is an important step in your personal injury case checklist. Your doctor’s assessment of your injuries will help build your case.
After an accident, adrenaline could mask the pain you’re in. It’s important not to shrug off your injuries. Instead, take the time to schedule an appointment with a physician.
They’ll assess your injuries and determine if you need to seek treatment from a specialist.
For example, a car crash could cause you to throw out your back. You could develop whiplash or chronic lower back pain.
Make sure to keep a record of every doctor’s visit, every medical bill, and every treatment you receive. You’ll need this evidence to build your personal injury case. Your lawyer can use this evidence to prove your losses.
They’ll calculate your medical bills, pain and suffering, and other expenses to determine how much compensation you deserve.
3. Keep a Record
After an accident, it’s normal to forget certain details. Immediately after your personal injury incident, write down what happened. Keeping a record will help you recall specific details about your case.
Make sure to keep your records in a safe place.
4. File an Office Report
If you were in a slip-and-fall accident on someone’s property, let them know right away. If you were in a car accident, you’ll need to call the police. They’ll file an official report for you.
For a work-related accident, make sure to contact your supervisor. They might make changes to work conditions that could save someone else from an accident in the future.
It’s important to file an official report before leaving the scene of the accident. Filing an official report will show people you’re serious about making your case.
5. Find a Lawyer
It’s important to find a lawyer with the specialty you need. Remember, there are different types of personal injury cases. You can find a personal injury attorney or someone who specializes in your type of case.
Choosing someone with the right specialty can help strengthen your case.
A lawyer who specializes in your type of case will have the experience you need. Look for a lawyer with years of experience under their belt. They’ll know how to create a strong legal strategy that will maximize your compensation.
Most lawyers provide a free consultation. They can help you determine the realities of your case. You can also ask them, “How much is my injury case worth?”
Before choosing a lawyer, ask about their fee structure. Do they use a contingency fee? A lawyer with this fee structure won’t require payment unless they win your case.
The Lawsuit Process
Once you find an experienced attorney, they’ll walk you through the process for filing your lawsuit. Here’s an overview of what the process entails. Learning more about the process beforehand will help you prepare for the road ahead.
File an Official Complaint
First, you’ll need to file an official complaint or summons. The complaint outlines the nature of your claim. Each state has a slightly different process for filing an official complaint.
The complaint should include:
- A statement of what happened on the day of the accident
- A list of the parties involved
- What you want from the party you’re holding responsible for the incident
Your attorney will walk you through this process to ensure you don’t miss any important steps. Even a small paperwork error could delay your claim or get your case tossed out.
Wait for a Response
Once you file your official complaint, you’ll have to wait a while. The defendant will send in a response either admitting or denying the allegation.
In some cases, the defendant can claim you didn’t provide enough information within your complaint. They might indicate there’s not enough information for them to either accept or deny blame.
If the defendant denies blame, you’ll move onto the next step of your personal injury case checklist.
The Discovery Phase
In order to strengthen your personal injury case, your lawyer will need to gather evidence. The discovery phase gives both parties the chance to research the specifics of the case.
In addition to gathering evidence, both sides can also make requests for documentation from the other side.
Your lawyer might also want to complete interrogatories and speak with witnesses. The entire process can take between a few months to a few years.
Again, it’s important to start this process right away. You can never tell how long a case can take before it’s resolved. If you wait too long to start the process, the statute of limitations might lapse.
If you wait too long, you could fail to receive compensation.
Pre-trial motions include:
- Dismissing the case
- Filing for summary judgment
Either side can file for summary judgment if they believe there aren’t enough facts to support a claim or defense. If the summary judgment is filed, your lawsuit will end.
Resolution Without Trial
Sometimes, both parties come together for mediation. Mediation allows you to resolve a lawsuit without going to trial.
You can ask to schedule your mediation privately.
If you’re more comfortable having a judge present, you can ask to have a judge assigned to the mediation process.
Going to Trial
Your personal injury attorney can help you determine whether it’s best to negotiate, go to trial, or use meditation.
If your case goes to trial, your lawyer will take your evidence before a judge. The entire trial can last anywhere between two and five days. Sometimes, the trial will take longer depending on the severity of your case.
To win your case, you’ll need to prove the other party’s negligence caused the accident. You’ll need evidence of liability to build your case. Otherwise, you’ll fail to prove the other party is responsible for what happened.
In some cases, the other party will try to prove your carelessness caused the accident.
The evidence you gather is crucial to your case. Otherwise, your lawyer might have a difficult time proving the other party’s negligence.
Building Your Personal Injury Case: Preparing Yourself for a Win
Ready to build your personal injury case? With an experienced, qualified lawyer at your side, you can prove negligence. Then, you can receive the compensation you need to cover damages and losses.
Otherwise, you’ll have to pay for these expenses on your own.
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