If you’re planning to file a personal injury claim, there are steps you can take starting on day one that may increase your chances of recovering a fair settlement. Those steps include:
- Documenting the scene of the accident;
- Starting a personal injury journal;
- Deactivating your social media accounts;
- Recording all the expenses you incur;
- Seeking medical care; and
- Directing all relevant correspondence to your personal injury lawyer.
Let’s explore these steps in depth so you know exactly what to do to ensure your personal injury claim has the best chance of success:
1. Documenting the Scene of the Accident
Much of the evidence needed to strengthen your claim may be time sensitive, so it’s important that you start collecting evidence while at the scene. Such evidence may include:
- Photographs of the hazard that caused your accident, injuries, and property damage;
- The names and phone numbers of all other parties involved;
- The contact details of any eyewitnesses; and
- The responding officers’ names and badge numbers.
2. Starting a Personal Injury Journal
It’s wise to start a personal injury journal the very same day of the accident. For the first entry, record everything you remember about the incident. No detail is too small to include. You should also write down the contact information you gathered at the scene so it’s in one convenient place.
For all subsequent entries, write about the ways in which the injuries are affecting your everyday life. Describe your symptoms and write down when they appear and how frequently they occur. Also, make note of any medication side effects.
3. Deactivating Your Social Media Accounts
It’s a good idea to deactivate all of your social media accounts until your claim has been resolved. Otherwise, the insurance adjuster might scan your accounts and use a photo, video, or text post to challenge your credibility or dispute the severity of your injuries.
If deactivating your accounts isn’t an option, update your privacy settings so each profile is only visible to friends or approved connections. Although the insurance adjuster may still find a way to access your posts, this will provide an added hurdle. You should also avoid publishing anything about the accident, your injuries, your social life, or your expenditures as long as the case is pending.
4. Recording All the Expenses You Incur
In the state of California, personal injury claimants have the right to pursue compensation for:
- Property damage;
- Emergency medical care;
- Other past and future medical expenses;
- Home care;
- Lost income and benefits;
- Loss of future earning capacity;
- Alternative transportation;
- Home and vehicle modifications;
- Child care;
- Domestic help;
- Loss of enjoyment in life;
- Pain and suffering; and
- Emotional distress.
Additionally, their spouses may be entitled to compensation for loss of consortium. Before you or your partner can recover a single dollar, though, your attorney will have to present evidence to prove the types of damages incurred and their value. Examples of such evidence may include:
- Photographs of visible wounds;
- Medical records;
- Hospital bills;
- Pharmacy receipts;
- Home care invoices;
- Quotes for repairing or replacing damaged property;
- Paystubs or income statements;
- Income statistics in your industry;
- Quotes for modifying your home and/or vehicle to accommodate your injuries;
- Invoices for child care;
- Invoices for domestic help;
- Personal injury journal entries; and
- Statements from economic and medical experts.
5. Seeking Medical Care
If you don’t take reasonable steps to facilitate your recovery, you might not be able to collect compensation for 100 percent of your damages. To avoid a dispute, you should visit a doctor immediately after the accident and follow his or her orders exactly.
Sustaining unanticipated injuries will undoubtedly disrupt your life, and taking it easy over the weeks that follow may be difficult. But if you return to work too early or otherwise ignore your physician’s instructions and the insurance company finds out, you might be held partially liable for your own damages. Since California follows a pure comparative fault rule, a personal injury claimant’s financial recovery is reduced by his or her own percentage of fault.
You might think the insurer has no way of knowing whether you’re following your doctor’s orders, but it’s possible that the claims adjuster will place you under surveillance, review your online activity (and that of your friends and family), and scrutinize your medical records to find opportunities to dispute your claim. The bottom line: You should do everything in your power to facilitate the recovery process so the insurance company has less ammunition to challenge your case.
6. Directing All Relevant Correspondence to Your Personal Injury Lawyer
Insurance adjusters know how to ask misleading questions to elicit responses that provide a basis for disputing claims. It’s not uncommon for claimants to provide statements that bring liability or the severity of their injuries into question. To protect your case, it’s a good idea to direct any correspondence from the insurance adjuster to your lawyer.
Besides handling this dialogue, your attorney can help by:
- Interviewing eyewitnesses;
- Gathering evidence;
- Filing subpoenas if necessary to obtain evidence;
- Bringing in expert witnesses;
- Tracking your damages and using widely accepted formulas to calculate a fair settlement;
- Negotiating with the insurance company; and
- Preparing the case for court if the opposing party won’t settle.
Call (562) 206-1939 to Discuss Your Case with a Long Beach Personal Injury Attorney
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
If you were injured through no fault of your own and you intend to file a personal injury claim, contact the Law Office of Michael D. Waks. We will carefully review the facts of your case, answer your questions, and help you determine the most strategic way to pursue the maximum settlement possible.
Attorney Michael D. Waks has more than three decades of experience representing the injured and their loved ones. If Michael doesn’t win your case, you won’t owe any attorney’s fees. Call (562) 206-1939 or use our Online Contact Form to set up a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer in Long Beach.
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