Personal Injury Claims: Steps to Take for a Successful Lawsuit
An accidental injury can be very disruptive, but after you recover from your injuries enough to return to work, the medical debts that follow you around as a result of the injuries make it difficult for your life to go back to normal. You have the right to compensation for your medical bills and other financial losses from the person or company responsible for the accident. If you have ever filed an insurance claim after a car accident, you know that it is easy to file a claim but considerably more difficult to get enough money to cover all of your accident-related expenses. If your injuries are so severe that you must remain out of work for an extended period of time, then your accident-related losses might exceed the relevant insurance policy limits, and you might need to file a personal injury lawsuit. A Whittier civil litigation lawyer can help you get the money you need to cover your medical bills and other financial losses after a preventable accident.
What You Must Prove in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
In a personal injury lawsuit, the injured person is the plaintiff, and the party that caused the accident or failed to prevent it is the defendant. For example, in a car accident lawsuit, the at-fault driver is the defendant. In a premises liability lawsuit, where the plaintiff got injured because of a fall on a slippery floor in a supermarket, the supermarket is the defendant. The plaintiff must prove the following claims to win the case:
- The defendant had a duty of care toward the plaintiff, which means that the defendant was responsible for exercising caution in the situation in which the plaintiff encountered the defendant or for keeping the site where the accident occurred safe from hazards
- The defendant engaged in negligence by breaching the duty of care
- The defendant’s negligence was the direct cause of the plaintiff’s injuries
- The financial losses for which the plaintiff is seeking compensation from the defendant are directly related to the injuries caused by the defendant’s negligence
Most personal injury cases resolve without going to trial. If the plaintiff files a lawsuit, the defendant usually agrees to pay a settlement that is sufficient to cover the plaintiff’s accident-related financial losses. If the defendant carries insurance related to the accident, the plaintiff may be able to get a sufficient settlement from the defendant’s insurance company. The law requires drivers to carry liability insurance for amounts large enough to cover minor accidents. Companies must also carry liability insurance to cover common types of accidents.
Gather Evidence at the Scene of the Accident
Do not rely on your memory to recall the details of the accident, your eloquence to describe it, or your trustworthiness to make the insurance company or defendant believe you. Images taken at the scene of the accident provide strong evidence of hazardous conditions and the way your injuries looked immediately after the accident. If it was a car accident, then you should also take pictures of the vehicle’s damage.
Have a Doctor Examine You on the Day of the Accident
It may be your instinct to dust yourself off and go on with your day after an accident, but from a legal perspective, this is a mistake. You should go to the emergency room and have a doctor examine you and write a detailed report. You might start to develop symptoms in the subsequent days, and if this happens, your medical records will contain a thorough account of the accident, as well as what kinds of injuries you have and have not previously suffered. This is important, because insurance companies and defendants will try to attribute your symptoms to any other cause except the accident, and getting examined immediately after the accident protects you against this.
Do Not Wait Too Long Before You Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
The deadline to file a personal injury lawsuit is one year after the accident, but filing a lawsuit takes a lot of preparation. If your accident was severe enough to result in unaffordable medical bills, you should contact a personal injury lawyer before you even receive a settlement offer from the insurance company. Your lawyer can help you negotiate for an adequate insurance settlement, and if that is not possible, your lawyer can help you prepare to file a lawsuit before the deadline.
Contact the Law Offices of Omar Gastelum About Personal Injury Cases
A civil litigation attorney can help you settle an insurance claim or file a lawsuit related to a physical injury. Contact the Law Offices of Omar Gastelum and Associates APLC in Whittier, California, to set up a consultation.
A Whittier personal injury lawyer can help you get the money you need after an accident by settling an insurance claim or filing a lawsuit.