Every day in Kentucky and Indiana, car wrecks happen. Whenever a wreck was caused by the negligence of another driver, i.e. the at-fault driver, the injured victim has a personal injury claim against that person for the pain and suffering they experience. The key to understanding that claim is that it can be complicated!
THE FIRST STEP AFTER A CAR WRECK: GO TO A HOSPITAL OR YOUR FAMILY DOCTOR!
The first and most important thing is to get checked out by a hospital or a family doctor. No one is saying you have to make a personal injury claim or that you should obtain medical treatment if you were not hurt. However, the most important aspect of a pain and suffering claim caused from a car wreck is to know the extent of your injuries and to document the extent of that injury through medical records.
The value of a car wreck injury claim lives and dies on the information contained in your medical records. If you don’t go to a doctor for 30 days after a car wreck, it looks like you were not hurting for the past 30 days. Further, the forces involved in a car accident are quite strong, and your body can be lurched forward and backward, or from side to side. This is especially true if a tractor trailer or commercial truck was involved, or if you were on a motorcycle. You may think its only bumps and bruises, but a few weeks from now you’ll be hurting in back, neck and torso in ways you can’t imagine today. You want to know the extent of the injuries and the length of the treatment required to fix those injuries before you ever even consider settling a personal injury claim.
Second, the insurance company for the at-fault driver will approach you about settling your personal injury claim. When you settle a personal injury claim, you sign a personal injury release. The essence of an injury release is that no matter how severe your injuries are or when they are discovered, your personal injury claim is over and done with. You effectively have made a legal contract, by signing the release of your personal injury claim with the insurance company. You entered into a contract wherein you let the insurance company off the hook and whatever may develop tomorrow in regard to your injuries, you alone will be responsible for. The at-fault driver, through the personal injury release you signed, has been relieved of all future liability for all the injuries you sustained in the car wreck. This is why we never rush a personal injury claim.
A personal injury release fully resolves your pain and suffering! Your personal claim consists of multiple items including your past and future medical expenses, your lost wages and any permanent impairment you may have suffered as a result of the car wreck. Consequently, unless it is a case wherein the insurance coverage is inadequate to satisfy all of these damages, a good personal injury lawyer makes sure that evidence of all these damages is presented to the insurance carrier so they can maximize the value of your personal injury claim. When you sign a release a few days after a car wreck, you walk away from all these damages and the possibility that they may increase over time.
Keep in mind that an insurance company only makes one payment to settle a personal injury claim. You can’t go back afterward and say “I didn’t know what I was doing or that cost expense was come up.” Releases are “FULL and FINAL” legal contracts eliminating the risk, for the insurance carrier, that the value of your personal injury claim will increase. Therefore, make sure you are completely healed from the car wreck before you sign any such document and that you understand everything you can about your injuries, including the length of treatment. I did a previous blog that talked about some of the risks of signing a personal injury release, http://www.attorneydesmond.com/settle-personal-injury-claim-immediately-car-wreck/.
SO DON’T SIGN A PERSONAL INJURY RELEASE UNLESS YOU HAVE CONTACTED AN EXPERIENCED PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER.
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.