Few things are as financially devastating as a serious personal injury. If you’ve been involved in an accident, or if you were hurt on the job, you could face thousands of dollars of medical bills, and even more costs in physical therapy. On top of that, you might miss work for weeks to months as you begin to recover, depending on the nature of your job.
Filing a personal injury claim could help you recover some of those costs, but before you begin, there are some important factors you’ll need to consider.
Most Important Things to Note
These are some of the most important considerations to face before getting involved with a personal injury suit:
- If you’ve been injured, you’re probably entitled to compensation. If your injury is due to someone else’s actions, or due to their absence of action (negligence), you’re probably entitled to compensation. When someone is directly responsible for an injury, they’re legally responsible for accommodating the costs of that injury.
- Most claims settle out of court. According to Edwards and Patterson Law, the vast majority of personal injury claims never make it to court. Instead, they’re determined in a series of negotiations with the party responsible, their representatives, and possibly their insurance company. Eventually, you’ll reach a compromise that you can both agree to—which often ends up being far cheaper than it would be to take the matter to court.
- Damages come in many forms. When requesting compensation for damages, remember that there are many forms of damage you should be receiving compensation for. There are direct medical costs, of course, and the cost of rehabilitation, but there are also the costs of daily living and your salary to cover if you’re unable to work. Depending on the circumstances, the responsible party may be held liable for any or all of these costs.
- You’ll be working with an insurance company. The person or party responsible probably isn’t going to be held liable for the damages you’re trying to get. Instead, you’ll be paid by the insurance company that represents them. This is especially true for auto accidents, or for workplace injuries, where the at-fault party is required by law to have an insurance policy in place. In some cases, this makes matters more complicated (since insurance companies are incentivized to pay you as little as possible); in others, this may actually increase your payout.
- You may have to prove fault. Not all cases are clear-cut. Depending on the circumstances, you may need to provide evidence that the person responsible is truly at fault for the injury. After an injury, it’s a good idea to gather as much evidence as you can, taking pictures, talking to witnesses, and collecting any footage of the incident. Your lawyer will be able to help you if you weren’t able to gather that evidence immediately.
- Your choice in lawyer means everything. Speaking of lawyers, your choice in lawyer could make the difference in your case. You’ll want to choose a lawyer who’s experienced in the realm of personal injury, with a good reputation and a fair price. Without a good attorney on your side, you may be taken advantage of by a defense team trying to minimize losses (especially during the negotiation process). An experienced lawyer may cost you more money, but they’ll probably return even more money to you with a higher eventual settlement.
- The process takes time. According to HG.org, the process to file a claim and receive a settlement takes a few months for most cases. However, more complex cases or ones that move slowly may take upwards of a few years. If you’re in a hurry for money, you may not be able to rely on your settlement covering everything immediately, so be prepared for that possibility.
Should You Move Forward?
So is it a good idea to pursue a claim when you’ve been personally injured and someone else is at fault? If you’re facing stiff medical bills and other costs, and someone else is clearly to blame, it’s in your best interest to move forward with legal action—even if it takes a long time to sort out the details. In the end, you deserve compensation, and as long as you have a strong case with a good lawyer by your side, eventually, you’ll probably get it.