If you’ve ever been in an automobile accident, you know that the moments afterwards can be complicated and lead to confusion for everyone involved. From exchanging insurance information, to filling out a police report, to filing a claim for damage to your car, you can find yourself in an almost never-ending stack of paperwork. This doesn’t even include accidents that result in bodily injuries, which add to the stress of the situation and must be dealt with expertly in order to ensure that you are repaid for the costs you incur.
Working with a personal injury attorney in Los Angeles will allow you to have a professional in your corner to guide you through the process of gathering information and submitting your claim.
Step 1: Collect Information at the Scene
There were over 86,000 motor vehicle injury accidents in Los Angeles County alone in 2005, according to the Los Angeles Almanac. These statistics have remained relatively stable over recent years, indicating that drivers throughout LA continue to get hurt in automobile crashes. If you are in an accident and sustain an injury, the most important thing to do is stay at the scene and ensure that your injury is properly addressed.
However, before leaving, make sure that you collect all of the following:
Step 2: Seek Medical Attention
You will most likely visit the doctor or emergency room immediately upon leaving the scene of the accident. Document each part of this process, including your symptoms, the treatment you received, and any follow-up steps you take. You will want to make appointments to see recommended specialists and physicians so that you have paperwork that confirms you are receiving treatment for your injuries.
The insurance company’s claim adjuster will want to see all of the medical reports when determining what steps they will take in terms of offering a settlement. While these reports will be available from the hospital, it is also smart to have records of your own. Visiting the hospital is not enough on its own to ensure a favorable settlement for your injuries. Do your due diligence to improve your health first and foremost and let your personal injury attorney in Los Angeles help with the claim process.
Step 3: Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
Dealing with auto insurance companies can be a hassle, especially if you have been injured in an accident. In addition to filing a claim and meeting with adjusters, you will have to go up against large companies that have powerful attorneys working to keep as much money as possible. It is a good idea to work with someone who is an expert in personal injury cases so they can help you with the interviews and filing process. Your attorney will also be able to assist with winning you a settlement for your claim so that you get the compensation you deserve and can cover your medical and car repair costs.
To hire an attorney, you’ll need to start with a consultation to go over the facts of your case. After you’ve received medical attention and are back at home, it is smart to get the ball rolling with an attorney so you can get everything you need together in order to file your claim without delay.
Step 4: Contact the Insurance Company
When you are ready to proceed, contact the insurance company of the at-fault party to open a bodily injury claim. Once you do so you will be expected to provide all of the information you have gathered to that point and answer questions surrounding the accident and the medical treatment for your injuries. Without an attorney on your side, you may feel pressured during this process or unsure about what your responsibilities are moving forward. Continue to see your doctor and other specialists as directed so that you can get the treatment you need while you wait for your claim to be resolved.
Step 5: Wait for Your Settlement
After your information has been given to the insurance company and you have completed all the necessary interviews, you will need to wait for your settlement to be decided. It is important to remember that you are under no obligation to accept the settlement offered, if there is one. If you’ve hired a personal injury attorney in Los Angeles you will have help in determining if the settlement offer is fair. If it is not, your lawyer will advise you on how to proceed with the settlement dispute.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of people across the country injured in auto accidents is on the rise. Statistics in 2012 showed the first significant increase, around 145,000 cases, in 17 years. This means that while drivers do all they can to avoid accidents, crashes and injuries do still happen and they have an enormous financial impact on those involved. Protect yourself and your passengers when an accident occurs by working with a personal injury attorney to get the settlement you deserve.
When you and your family go on vacation, the last thing that you want to think about is a potential accident or injury. Nobody plans to get hurt or sick, especially when away from home. However, the fact remains that there are just some things that are outside of your control. If you do get sick while on vacation, it is important to know what you can do to get yourself well and what needs to be done as soon as you get back home. Should an accident or injury happen to you or a family member, your accident attorney in Los Angeles can help you take the next steps in the legal process. Knowing what to do when you are injured on vacation allows you to get the support and information you need moving forward.
Document the Events
Dangerous accidents obviously do not only happen when you are out of the country. Even if you are traveling to Los Angeles for only a weekend, it is still important to know the steps to take if something does happen. The first thing to do is immediately document the incident so that you have evidence when you pursue a claim later on down the road. Take photos of the scene and of your injury and write down notes about your surroundings. For example, if you slip and fall while on a cruise ship, you will want to note what the weather was like, if there were any cautionary signs warning you of the hazardous conditions, and if the floor was wet. This will help your attorney build your case if negligence is the cause of your injuries.
Get Medical Attention Right Away
If your injuries are serious, you should seek the appropriate medical attention immediately. People choose to bypass this step in the process due to the fact that they are on vacation and far away from their trusted doctor. However, the most important thing to consider is your health. When dealing with more serious injuries, having documentation from your doctor’s visit will help your accident injury attorney put together your legal case.
Visit Your Own Doctor
As soon as you return home, see your own doctor. Let your doctor know about what happened so that he or she can check on your progress and see if any of your injuries have worsened. Once your appointment is over, be sure to document any changes in your condition because this information is important to your case. Additionally, you have a prior relationship with your doctor and he or she already knows your medical history. You will get an accurate assessment from someone you trust.
Injuries on International Trips
If you are traveling outside of the United States and are injured, it is even more critical to get the help you need. When a car accident occurs or if you are hurt in a slip-and-fall scenario, the first thing you will need to do is see a doctor. If you have travel or evacuation insurance, contacting your provider will allow you to the get information you need to file a claim. In addition, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends contacting the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate if you think you need further assistance with your situation while you are out of the country.
Contact a Lawyer
Getting in touch with an accident injury attorney when you are back at home lets you get the information you need to start building your legal case. If you are injured overseas or on a cruise ship, you may be facing a shorter statute of limitations in order to file a claim in court. Your vacation accident lawyer will help you navigate these mazes so that you know your legal options.
Most attorneys provide clients with a first session free of charge to discuss the situation and assess the case. They also work cases on contingency, meaning that you do not owe any fees for your representation until you win your lawsuit against the persons or company responsible for your injuries. When you have all of the documentation from the incident, your attorney will build your case to give you the best chance at recovering finances you deserve to cover medical bills associated with your injury. Since there is no financial obligation or risk with contacting a lawyer to represent you, it is a good idea to put this high on your priority list.
If your injury requires you to stay in the hospital, you are undoubtedly concerned about rising costs while your case progresses. This is why documenting the incident, seeking out medical attention, and reaching out to an attorney quickly is critical. If your lawsuit is successfully settled, you will receive a lump sum of money to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, and the pain and suffering you are going through due to your accident.
After you’ve just been in an accident, a lot of things run through your mind. Am I hurt? Does anyone else need medical attention? Who should I call first? These are all important questions that need to be answered in the immediate aftermath so that you and everyone else involved can get the immediate care needed. Equally as important is figuring out the next steps that you will take as you recover. Whether you are dealing with an injury accident and need an auto accident attorney, a slip-and-fall situation, or something more serious such as wrongful death, being prepared for the road ahead will help ensure that you take the best course of action based on your specific case. Understanding the proper steps for filing a claim will help you navigate the legal process so you can work toward getting the court decision you need, or the settlement that you and your family deserve.
Establish the Facts
Keeping detailed notes following an accident, such as paperwork from any visits to the doctor and the events leading up to impact, allows your attorney to properly and thoroughly build your case. If you are in a car accident, you will want to take photos of the scene and get a copy of the police report so that your attorney can help represent you in the best possible way. Malpractice lawsuits against a doctor and other personal injury cases require their own set of documentation and your lawyer can assist you in tracking down anything that you need. Without this information, you will have a much tougher time of proving the validity of your claim.
See if Insurance Will Cover Your Claim
Once you have all of the information you need based on the events that have taken place, you will need to see if an insurance policy will cover your injuries. As you plan to file your personal injury lawsuit, you’ll want to find out whether or not the responsible party has adequate insurance coverage. For instance, if you slip and fall, you’ll want to know if the property owner has liability coverage.
This step is extremely important because it will help you make a decision on whether or not to pursue your claim. You’ll want to know that you will be able to collect any damages that are awarded to you at the end of your case. If your injuries are serious enough, even if the other party does not have insurance, your lawyer may advise continuing your case to help you get the decision you deserve.
Consult a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer
Unless your accident results in extremely minor injuries or you can get the result you need on your own, such as in a minor fender bender, it is a good idea to discuss your case and legal options with a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer. Most attorneys will provide an initial consultation free of charge to go over the facts of your case and weigh its merits. Discuss your choices moving forward so that you know what you can expect from the legal system once your lawsuit is filed.
Personal injury lawyers will usually work on a contingency basis, meaning that you will pay nothing for their representation until there is a settlement or the court rules in your favor. At that time, you will pay an agreed-upon portion of the settlement or judgment as a fee for their representation. All cases vary in terms of complexity and the amount of money at stake, which is why it is a good idea to partner with an attorney that can help you navigate the legal maze moving forward.
Filing Your Lawsuit
Once you retain the services of a personal injury attorney, he or she will advise you on the best way to proceed. A majority of personal injury cases are either settled before trial, or the issue is resolved with no legal action being taken. According to a recent sampling, 95 percent of lawsuits end with a pre-trial settlement. Sometimes filing a lawsuit with the court is unnecessary. If the person you want to sue has insurance coverage in place, your attorney can assist with filing a third-party claim with their carrier. This includes using the insurance policy information you collected at the time of the incident and sending a notice to the company to get the ball rolling.
If you do not hear anything back, or if settlement talks break down, you can always continue by filing a lawsuit with your local civil courthouse. Your personal injury attorney in Los Angeles will give you the information you need about court costs for filing your suit and what your responsibilities are once it has been filed. Be sure to learn about the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit in your state because you will have no legal options once that time period has expired.
For more information about the process for filing a personal injury lawsuit, and to discuss your case, contact your attorney directly.