Going through the process of a personal injury claim can often be longer and more exhausting than people realize. If you are recovering from an injury after a car accident, motorcycle accident, or another incident, you may not have the energy or time a personal injury claim demands. This is why many injury victims turn to experienced personal injury attorneys for help.
Whether or not you plan on hiring a lawyer to represent you, there are a few things everyone should know before pursuing an injury claim. Understanding these aspects of the personal injury claim process will make your experience better and give you a better chance at success. With that said, here are 9 things to know about your personal injury claim:
9 Things You Should Know Before Filing a Personal Injury Claim
1 – You Must File Your Lawsuit Within The Statute Of Limitations
What is a statute of limitations? A statute of limitations is a law that governs how long you have from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim. Statutes of limitations can differ from state to state. There may also be different statutes of limitations for different types of crimes.
The Florida Statute of Limitations states that victims or the state have four years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the defendant in a personal injury case. There are some exceptions for special cases but it is always best to file a claim sooner rather than later.
There is usually better evidence available to support your case when you file closer to the date of the accident. Additionally, witnesses and even individuals directly involved in the accident may forget important details over time. It is best to gather statements and have a lawyer launch an investigation into the accident before years have gone by.
You may also lose your right to file a claim if you wait to file a lawsuit until after the statute of limitations has expired.
2 – Make Sure To Build A Strong Case
In order to give yourself the best chance of being awarded a fair settlement, you must build a strong case to support your claim. One of the advantages of hiring a personal injury attorney is that they know exactly how to prove negligence in a personal injury case. An attorney can help you collect the evidence and documentation you need to strengthen your claim. Your attorney can also keep track of all of this information for you so you don’t have to.
However, some people may choose to forego professional legal representation. They may wish to handle the case on their own or simply do not want to pay for an attorney. Here are some tips to follow for building a stronger personal injury case:
- Gather all relevant evidence
- Complete and maintain any documentation to support your claim
- Make sure to get the contact information for all parties involved (witnesses, first responders, lawyers, insurance agencies, medical providers)
- Draft up a demand letter
- Send your demand letter to the at-fault insurance company along with all relevant records, documentation, and bills
- Negotiate with them for a settlement you are satisfied with
- Prepare to take the case to court if a settlement cannot be reached
3 – Consider Future Damages
It is crucial to consider any future costs you may incur from your accident when you are calculating how much to ask for in a personal injury settlement. This can include economic damages, such as future treatment or lost wages, and non-economic damages, such as emotional suffering or long-term disability.
Factoring in the cost of future damages into the settlement amount you request in a demand letter ensures you are being compensated for the impact your injuries will have on your life. Including these damages in your claim will typically increase the value of your case significantly.
4 – Do Not Accept The Initial Offer
Insurance companies will typically try to convince or coerce you into accepting their initial settlement offer, especially if you do not have a lawyer representing you. The problem is the initial settlement offer is almost always lower than the compensation you need and deserve.
This is why steps 2 and 3 are so important.
By adding up all of your current bills and expenses and calculating your future expenses, you will have a better understanding of what you should be awarded. This will help prevent you from accepting an offer that is unfairly low. You will be able to identify an undervalued settlement offer immediately and can counter it with an offer that satisfies you.
Claimants also have a stronger leg to stand on in negotiations when they have collected all the necessary documentation, bills, and evidence to support the settlement figure they are asking for.
5 – Your Personal Life and Medical History Can Impact Your Case
It is important to realize that insurance companies will do whatever they can to gain leverage in a case and distance themselves from full responsibility for injuries. What does this mean for the claimant? This means insurance companies may do extensive research into your personal life, professional life, and medical history to try and minimize their liability for your injuries.
They may look at your:
- Medical history
- Criminal background
- Employment history
- Social media accounts
Insurance companies are looking for anything they can use to devalue your claim. For example, let’s say you injured your knee in a slip and fall accident. If you had previously injured that same knee, they may claim that your injuries were primarily due to a pre-existing condition. They may do this even if your previous injury was several years old and completely unrelated.
A history of financial delinquency or criminal activity can also negatively impact the value of your claim. Keep in mind that your past can affect the value of your claim and you need to be prepared to provide strong evidence to justify the settlement amount you are seeking.
6 – Injury Victims Can Become Targets For Solicitation
There are many types of solicitors that will try and take advantage of the difficult financial situation many injury victims find themselves in. They often take the form of loan lenders who offer fast money to help you cover immediate medical expenses while you wait for a settlement.
The problem is these loans are often predatory and target people who are in a very tough place. These loans typically have extremely high interest rates and usually leave victims in a worse financial place than they started. Victims may end up using a large portion of their settlement to simply pay off their loan.
It is not advised to take one of these loans but if you do decide you need one, be sure to read the fine print carefully. Look at the interest rates and calculate what the true cost of the loan will end up being.
7 – Be Patient
Personal injury claims can take quite a long time to be fully resolved. You should be wary of any personal injury attorney that guarantees a quick settlement or fast cash. It can take a good amount of time to gather all the evidence and documentation to build a strong case and even longer to negotiate for a fair settlement.
Remember to be patient and avoid accepting an undervalued settlement simply to get compensation faster. A personal injury attorney can help you deal with injury expenses you cannot afford to pay until you have gotten a settlement. They can work with medical providers to arrange for payment to come out of a settlement once you have been awarded compensation.
8 – Look For A “No Fee Guarantee”
Injury victims who decide to hire a personal injury attorney should look for an attorney who works on a contingency basis. A contingency fee basis means that you will not be charged any attorney fee unless your lawyer wins your case. Most personal injury attorneys who operate under a contingency fee will take a certain percentage of the awarded settlement as their fee.
Be sure to discuss this fee with your attorney before you hire them. The benefit is that you will not have to pay for your attorney out of pocket and your attorney has extra incentive to win the case for you.
The experienced personal injury attorneys at Calandro Law do not charge their clients anything until they have won the case. Additionally, you schedule a free case evaluation with Calandro Law. During your evaluation, an expert lawyer will inform you of whether or not you have a strong case, the estimated time it may take to resolve your case, and what your legal options are going forward.
9 – Be Prepared To Go To Court
Despite all the preparation, evidence building, and negotiation time you invest into a case, there is still a chance your case could go to trial. A personal injury claim will go to court when neither party can agree upon a settlement amount.
Claimants are legally allowed to represent themselves in a personal injury trial but this is almost never recommended. If your claim is going to trial, it is in your best interest to hire an experienced personal injury attorney. There are many legal pitfalls and procedures that can be difficult to navigate for individuals who are unfamiliar with the technical letter of the law. Having a trial-tested lawyer in your corner offers you the best chance at a favorable outcome.
Speak With A Riverview Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence in Riverview, the personal injury attorneys at Calandro law are prepared to get you the settlement you deserve. Let our legal team do the heavy lifting for you.
We will run a full investigation into your claim and gather all the pertinent evidence and documentation to build a strong case for you. Your attorney will offer you expert legal advice and guide you through the entire process of settling a personal injury claim. They can even represent you in negotiations and legal proceedings without you needing to be present.
Clients do not owe anything unless we win the case. When you are ready to fight for your compensation, we are ready to hop in your corner. Contact us today at (813) 563-6463 to schedule your free case evaluation.