Filing a personal injury claim can be unfamiliar and overwhelming. It’s understood that accidents happen, but many are unaware of the process that follows. Personal injury claims can vary from automobile accidents to slip and fall accidents to dog bites. The list goes on, but your unfortunate event doesn’t have to.
You may find yourself at a loss on what to do after an unexpected accident. It’s important to understand the right course of action and seek professional assistance. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take after a personal injury to prepare you for filing a claim. Here are 4 tips to get you started.
File a police report
Filing a police report can help to ensure you have accurate records of important information that happened during and after the accident. This information might include names and contact information of those involved. The facts taken in the police report can serve as a record of solid information to be used later if needed. If a lawsuit arises, the police report can be used for further explanation and evidence to describe the incident.
The report can go a long way toward influencing negotiations in any personal injury dispute. For example, during settlement discussions you or your attorney can use the facts and conclusions found in a police report to gain an advantage on certain issues. You’ll want to note circumstances of the incident such as time of day, date, specific location, weather conditions or assessment of fault, especially in motor vehicle accidents. While filling a police report may seem time-consuming or unnecessary, it can make a big difference in the long run.
Keep records of all costs and expenses related to the injury
One of the easiest and most important things you can do is to keep any relevant records of your accident. This can help provide a clear picture of your case and potential damages. In most personal injury cases, the majority of records involved include health care documents such as medical bills, payment records, prescription records, medical supply forms and receipts, and so on. Non-medical records will depend on the type of personal injury and extent of physical and property damages.
It’s a good idea to make a written account of the injury, especially while the event and facts are still fresh in your mind. Recording the process of your injury, mental state, and recovery can help when you need to recall the specifics at a later date.
Be cautious of what you sign
As a rule of thumb, it’s never a good idea to sign a document you don’t understand. When it comes to personal injury claims, you don’t want to sign any forms where you don’t understand the document fully. Papers may be presented to you well after the actual event occurred. It’s imperative to know what these papers mean and to consult with your personal injury lawyer before moving forward. Be especially cautious of any form or contract that may prompt you to release the other party from liability or that require you to forfeit your right to a lawsuit.
Research the legal process
Do a little research and familiarize yourself with personal injury claims and what you’re looking to do. When it comes to the legal process, certain situations can be more tricky than others, and it’s smart to seek out the right type of advice. Local rules may vary and every personal injury claim is going to be different. Some may take longer than others to resolve. You’re not expected to become an expert, but knowing the basics and speaking with a lawyer on a few guidelines can take some stress out of the situation.
If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident and needs to file a personal injury claim, call a law professional immediately. Taking the right steps – instead of attempting to handle a personal claim on your own – can drastically change your end result.
In need of a personal injury lawyer? Get in touch at 231-744-6218, and we’ll guide you in the right direction.
Kenneth Hoopes is an attorney with Ladas and Hoopes Law Offices. He has been practicing in Muskegon for over 20 years, specializing in personal injury, Social Security disability, and other areas of law. His commitment to justice has led to several positive outcomes for his clients throughout West Michigan. When he’s not in the office or in court, Ken enjoys spending time with his wife and their two daughters.