How to File a Personal Injury Claim: Common Questions & Advice
Accidents like slip and falls, dog bites, and car accidents can easily happen to anyone. Being injured in an accident is a very scary and overwhelming experience, especially when you have the added frustration of feeling like your accident could have been prevented. Although there are many situations in life we plan ahead for, most people don’t think about what they should do if they get hurt in an accident. So when they face a situation where they need to think about filing a personal injury lawsuit, they naturally have a lot of questions. Here are answers to a few of the most common questions people have about personal injury cases.
What are the Most Important Things to Do After an Accident?
First and foremost, get any medical attention you need. Although it’s important to document as many details as possible at the scene of an accident, medical attention is always the top priority. Get the contact information of the other person involved in the accident. If you’re able to do things like take photographs of the scene of the accident or get the names and contact information for any witnesses, those will be very helpful pieces of evidence to have.
Following the accident, keep a journal noting everything that happens after the accident. Make notes of things like how you’re feeling each day, how the accident has directly impacted your life, and any trips you take to see a doctor. If you speak to anyone about your accident, note who you spoke to and what was discussed.
If you would like to file a lawsuit over your accident, contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Personal injury lawyers typically offer free consultations where you can get answers to any questions you have about your accident and the lawyer will be able to learn more about your case and determine which options are available to you. If you believe you have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit and are dealing with another person’s insurance company or lawyers, be sure to talk to a lawyer before accepting any settlements they may offer you.
What if I Don’t Think I Can Afford a Lawyer?
In most cases, personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis. This means that the lawyer only collects a fee if they help you win your case, so you won’t have to pay them anything upfront. The amount of money an attorney collects will vary depending on the attorney and your case and the attorney’s fee may be negotiable.
How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
If you believe you have a strong basis for a personal injury claim, it’s very important to consult a lawyer as soon as possible. Many of the most common types of accidents and injuries are bound by a statute of limitations, so you only have a limited amount of time to file your claim. Exactly what that statute of limitations is varies depending on the type of accident and the state you’re filing your suit in, so be sure to talk to a lawyer as soon as you’re able to.
What Types of Damages Can I Sue For?
Generally speaking, you’re able to sue for things like medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other costs directly related to your accident. If a loved one has died in an accident, you may be able to get damages for wrongful death and/or loss of companionship. If the accident was caused by a person acting in a blatantly careless and negligent manner, you might be able to sue for punitive damages.
Can I File a Lawsuit Even if I was Partially at Fault?
In many cases, yes. You probably won’t be able to collect 100% of your damages, but you may be able to recover some amount of damages relative to the amount of responsibility you had for the accident. This is known as comparative negligence. For example, if it was determined that you were 50% responsible for the accident, you could be awarded 50% of the total of your damages.
If I’m Injured on Government Property or by a Government Employee, Can I Sue the Government?
Yes, but suing the U.S. government is more complicated than suing an individual person. To file a personal injury claim against the government, your case will need to be allowed by the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). The FTCA includes a very large number of rules about who can be sued and under which circumstances cases can be filed. If you believe you have a case against the government, be sure to consult a personal injury attorney.