After an accident, you may struggle to process what happened and figure out what you need to do to get back on your feet. The most important thing you can do during this time is focus on yourself and your health. But the truth of the matter is, this can be hard.
A personal injury case can help you recover damages after a severe injury and allow you to get the care and support you need. The first step to winning a personal injury case is understanding your rights. If you or someone you love was injured or killed due to someone else’s negligence, you may have a legal claim. To learn more, contact an experienced personal injury attorney.
What is a personal injury case?
According to the American Bar Association, a personal injury claim protects you if someone’s action or inaction harms your person or property. Essentially, the basic premise for a personal injury case is a duty of care and recoverable damages. In a personal injury case, you must prove someone else was negligent, their actions caused your injuries, and you suffered a loss as a result of your injuries.
There are many types of accidents that fall under the premises liability umbrella. If you have been in an accident, an experienced personal injury attorney can help determine if you have a personal injury case.
Common examples of personal injury cases include:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Dog bites
- Product liability
- Premises liability
- Wrongful death
Seven tips to help you win your personal injury case
Simply proving negligence and damages does not always guarantee you a positive result. What you say and do before and after opening a personal injury case can significantly impact your outcome. Below, we will discuss seven things you can do to help you win your case.
Be mindful of everything
If you open a personal injury case, the insurance company will scrutinize everything you say and do. This may not seem fair, but it is one of the tactics insurance companies use to get out of paying plaintiffs what they deserve. While becoming emotional after an accident is easy, keep your emotions in check.
During a personal injury case, watch:
- Your attitude: Stay calm throughout your case. If you come off as emotional, abrasive, or appear to be acting, you will likely receive a lower offer from the insurance company. Why? Because the insurance company always considers what happens if your case goes to court. If you end up in front of a jury, your behavior may paint you as an unsympathetic plaintiff. Even if you do not go to court, the insurance company will often use any outbursts or emotional displays as leverage to get you to settle for less. Plus, if your behavior is unpredictable, your attorney will be less likely to want to put you on the stand.
- Your social media activity: A recent report found that approximately 72 percent of Americans are on social media. While it may be tempting to vent about your accident on Facebook or talk about your injuries on Tik Tok, do not do it. Insurance companies routinely comb through plaintiffs’ social media accounts to look for evidence that will diminish the value of a case. Your best action is to ensure all social media accounts are private and you do not post anything about your accident online.
- What you say: Everything you say from the time of your injury has the potential to become evidence in your case. If you say, “I’m sorry,” at the scene, the insurance company may argue you admitted fault. If you talk about previous injuries, the insurance company will claim they are the reason for your pain, not your recent accident. For this reason, you should limit communication at the scene of your accident and let your attorney take care of any communication with the insurance party.
Keep track of evidence
Evidence is a crucial component of any personal injury case. It is what your attorney will use to prove what you say happened. The type of evidence you have will depend on the unique circumstances of your accident. However, the more evidence you can produce for your attorney, the better.
Pictures are often the most useful evidence in personal injury cases. Take pictures of the scene if you were in an accident, whether in a vehicle, at a business, or at someone else’s home.
Witness testimony can also prove invaluable. Ask for the contact information of anyone who saw your accident. Your attorney may call them as witnesses to support your case.
Other helpful information includes:
- Receipts for repairs and purchases
- After-visit summaries for doctor appointments
- Police reports
- Accident reports
Receive prompt medical attention
According to the CDC, unintentional injuries account for nearly 25 million doctor visits yearly. After an accident, it is essential to seek medical attention as soon as possible. This shows right from the beginning that you were injured and take your injuries seriously.
One of the most essential components of your personal injury case is: Did you suffer actual damages? In personal injury matters, the necessity of medical care can prove damages.
This does not mean you cannot make a personal injury claim if you waited a few days or weeks to go to the doctor. Sometimes symptoms do not appear right away. However, the longer you wait, the more likely the insurance company will try to claim your injuries were not that serious. For this reason, it is a good idea to go to the doctor immediately to check for any signs of injury.
You also need to attend any follow-up appointments your doctor recommends. Once again, this show you take your injuries seriously. If you have concerns about costs, your attorney can help you make payment arrangements. In many cases, your attorney can work with your care providers to defer payment until the conclusion of your case.
Be 100 percent truthful
One of the worst things you can do for your case is to lie about how you feel. This includes both hiding and exaggerating your symptoms. You likely will not get appropriate medical care if you hide your symptoms. This will only hurt your recovery. Additionally, your personal injury lawyer will consider your injuries and ongoing pain. It does you no good to tough it out.
On the other hand, exaggerating your symptoms can severely hurt your case. Doctors, insurance companies, and lawyers are good at spotting lies. If the insurance company discovers you are lying about your symptoms, it will ruin your credibility, and they will likely question everything else you have said about the accident. Ultimately, this can very likely result in a lower final settlement. The worst-case scenario is your case can go to court, and the jury can decide against you.
Set realistic expectations and be patient
One of the best things you can do is know what to expect early on. This includes setting realistic expectations regarding what your case is worth and knowing how long your case may take.
Ultimately, many things can affect the value of your case, including:
- Medical costs
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
Your attorney should be able to give you a reasonable estimate regarding your case.
The factors that can affect how long your case will take to settle include:
- The degree of your injuries
- The willingness of both parties to settle
- The court’s schedule if you decide to litigate the case
Unrealistic expectations can cause you to become impatient or irritable about the progress of your case. This can result in you accepting a settlement that is less than what you deserve or, conversely, waiting on a better offer that will never come.
Get started on your case early
It does not matter how much evidence you have or how reliable of a witness you are if you cannot file a case. Every state has laws regarding how long you must file a personal injury case. For example, California’s statute of limitations for personal injury matters is two years. In other states, the statute of limitations may be more or less.
Regardless of the statute of limitations in your state, you do not want to wait too long before you open a personal injury case for three main reasons:
- The insurance company will judge you. If you wait several months to make a personal injury claim, the insurance company will likely question why you waited so long. They may argue that your injuries must not be that bad. Just like with your medical treatment, taking prompt action following your accident shows you take your injuries and claim seriously.
- The quality of your evidence may diminish over time. Some of the most valuable evidence you can produce is video evidence and witness testimony. Security and traffic cams may delete video of your accident unless you act to preserve it. Regarding witness testimony, the longer the amount of time that has passed since the accident, the less reliable the person’s memory and account of the accident become.
- Your attorney needs enough time to prepare your case. One of the main reasons you do not want to wait too long to file your personal injury claim is to allow your attorney enough time to gather evidence and present your case. Ideally, your attorney will also have enough time to negotiate with the insurance company before deciding whether to take the case to court.
Work with an experienced personal injury attorney
The law does not require you to work with an attorney to open a personal injury case. In fact, you can even negotiate with the insurance company and take your case to court without an attorney. However, this is usually not in your best interest.
Insurance companies look for ways to get out of paying victims.
When you do not have an attorney, they see:
- You do not take your case seriously
- You do not know what you are doing
- You do not know how much your case is worth
Because of this, the insurance company will almost certainly offer you far less than what your case is worth. Even after several rounds of negotiation, the insurance company will likely never offer you a reasonable settlement for your injuries.
Working with a personal injury attorney shows the insurance company you take your claim seriously and allows your attorney to take care of the legal responsibilities while you focus on your recovery.
Set yourself up for a winning case
The goal of a personal injury case is to help you recover damages to allow you to get back on your feet. Accidents can cause physical and emotional harm. Do not suffer a financial loss as well. After an accident or injury, you can take steps to protect your rights and set your case up for success. An experienced attorney can help you get started and fight for your rights.
Do not wait. For more information or to get started, contact an experienced personal injury attorney near you today.