Every day people sustain serious injuries while at work, through slip and falls, negligence of contractors or automobile accidents. There are some general principles in regard to personal injury claims and injuries caused because of someone else’s fault.
First, to recover on your claim for pain and suffering, we generally have to show fault on the other party. Legally, fault is referring to negligence which has the following four elements: 1) duty; 2) breach of that duty; 3) causation, both actual and proximate and; 4) damages. We have to have all four elements to recover on your personal injury claim. For example, if we can show that an out of state motorcyclist was texting and caused a car wreck in Louisville, Kentucky happened, we would be able to recover your damages because the out of state driver was negligent. To use legal terminology, the at-fault driver had a legal duty to keep his motorcycle under control, he breached that duty by texting thereby losing control, that breach caused the damages to other vehicles involved in the car wreck. In a very simplified version, that is the manner in which a personal injury claim is evaluated.
So when you are injured because of someone else’ fault, make sure you take photographs of the accident scene, or the location of the car wreck, and get the contact information for any witnesses who may have seen the accident. Also, wherever you are, a restaurant for example, make sure you report the injury to the manager or the police and that they create an incident report detailing your injuries and the facts of the accident.
Second, go ahead and go to the Emergency Room or your family doctor if you are experiencing pain. It is okay to use your health insurance to pay for these charges. If there is other insurance coverage that should have been primary, we can always coordinate against that med-pay or no-fault insurance at later date. We would then get your health insurance reimbursed through what is known as a subrogation claim. For the moment, our only concern is making sure you get the medical treatment you need. We can always figure out at a later date who will be ultimately responsible for your medical bills.
Third, contact a personal injury attorney to discuss the details of your injury claim without waiting. Why? Remember that every case has a statute of limitations and in some cases, usually when a governmental entity is involved, you may need to give that organization legal notice of your claim before the statute of limitations runs (e.g. expires). Once again, it is your choice how you want to hanlde your personal injury claim. But it is my job as an injury lawyer to make sure you have the legal information you need to make a wise decision in regard to that claim.
When you need to talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer, you can reach me directly on my cell phone (502) 609-7657.
I had an injured client ask me, “How do I maximize my personal injury settlement?” My answer was “The worst you are injured, the higher value your personal injury claim may have.”
Injury claims are made entirely upon the contents of the medical records. Personal injury claims live and die on the content of their medical records. So when you ask a personal injury lawyer what a claim is worth, the honest answer is he has no idea until he has all your medical records in front of him and can review them in light of the nature of your injuries, the length of your medical treatment, the severity of the damage to the cars and the issue of who caused the accident.
However, in regard to automobile wrecks, I do give my client this legal advice as to what their personal injury claim is worth. First, the average soft-tissue claim (eg. cervical and lumbar strains without the need for surgery or pain managment) settles between $3,000 to $10,000, plus the medical expenses. Nevertheless, that is not a hard and fast rule. I had as a client a friend who lived in Prospect, Kentucky. While she did everything right in regard to her personal injury claim, the adjuster made a low-ball settlement offer as her medical records made it clear that she went to Disney World. The idea being how could she be complaining of neck and back pain and yet, riding around an amusement park with rides swinging her around. Similarly, I had a good injury case that had a lesser than average value because of how my client behaved in the Emergency Room of Jewish Hospital. In short, his records said he was eating potato chips, did not appear to be in any distress, was combative toward the ER doctors and trying to take photographs of the Emergency Room. The insurance adjuster knew that a jury would not have been sympathetic to my client in light of his erratic behavior.
Neverthless, there are several steps you can take to maximize the recovery of any personal injury claim. Step one, take photographs of the accident scene, the damage to your vehicle and your cuts and bruises. A picture is worth a thousand words.
Step two, seek medical treatment within the first three or four days, or sooner, after the car accident if you are having any pain whatsoever. I am not suggesting you seek medical attention if you are not in fact hurting. I am, however, telling you not to minimize your injuries, even if they are just strains and sprains, or think that your neck and/or back pain will go away on its own. Get it checked out by a licensed, medical professional. Choose a family doctor or chiropractor whom you trust , know and is interested in your health rather than the car wreck. If a doctor or facility promises you incentives to come to their office, avoid them!
Step three, do what you would normally do to take care of yourself if you had been injured in a singe car accident. The only difference for a personal injury claim is to make sure that medical care documents your road to recovery. If you do that, I have the tools to make sure we do the best we can to obtain a personal injury settlement you deserve.
You have friends telling you to contact their attorney, insurance companies telling you don’t need a lawyer and twenty injury attorneys on television promising you checks.