If you suffered injuries in an accident, such as a motor vehicle collision, slip and fall, or similar accident that was not your fault, you may file a personal injury claim seeking monetary compensation for all of your injury-related losses. The process of filing an insurance claim or lawsuit for injuries sustained in an accident is not easy, and can take time. Patience, however, can help you get the compensation you need to pay the bills from your accident.
If you or someone you love sustained injuries in an accident that someone else caused, get a personal injury attorney in your area by your side and advocating for you at all times. Your attorney can assist you with filing a personal injury claim (usually against the at-fault person’s insurance company) and negotiating a favorable monetary settlement.
If the insurance company refuses to offer you the full and fair compensation that you deserve for your injuries, your personal injury attorney could help you file a lawsuit and litigate your case to a favorable conclusion.
Types of Accidents That Can Lead to Serious Injuries
Every year, people are involved in accidents that occur because of a person or entity’s carelessness, recklessness, or negligence. These accidents can lead to serious and debilitating personal injuries, including traumatic head and brain injuries, bone fractures, spinal cord and back injuries (including the various forms of paralysis), and internal damage.
Such injuries might result in the need for expensive medical treatment and may prevent the accident victim from working for a significant time, losing considerable income. In some cases, the accident victim’s injuries are so severe that they permanently impair their ability to function and enjoy life.
Many types of accidents can lead to one or more serious injuries.
Some of the most common include:
- Motor vehicle accidents – A motor vehicle accident can occur when the driver of a car or truck violates a rule of the road (such as by running a red light or speeding), engages in distracted driving (such as by talking on the phone or texting while driving), or operates their vehicle while intoxicated by drugs. The force of the collision could cause the accident victim’s body to strike the steering wheel, console, or headrest, resulting in serious injuries.
- Pedestrian accidents – Pedestrian accidents often occur at or near traffic intersections, as well as in parking lots and parking garages, where pedestrians tend to be present. Distracted drivers who don’t give proper care and attention to the road sometimes cause pedestrian accidents. If the collision knocks the pedestrian to the ground, the accident victim could suffer a bone fracture, head injury, or some other traumatic injury.
- Motorcycle and bicycle accidents – Motorcycle accidents and bicycle accidents are sometimes the result of careless, negligent, or distracted driving. These accidents can also occur when roads are not properly maintained, and the cyclist loses their balance. Motorcycles and bicycles present unique hazards to their operators and passengers. Specifically, they do not offer any outer shell or protection, with the possible exception of the cyclist’s helmet. When a cyclist falls off their bike onto the ground in an accident, they could suffer serious and debilitating injuries and damages.
- Premises accidents – Premises accidents can occur on business or residential premises. Property owners owe a duty of care to their customers and social guests to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition at all times and keep their properties free from known defects and hazards. When property owners do not safely maintain their premises, serious accidents, including slip-and-falls, can occur. However, slip-and-fall accidents are by no means the only type of accident that can occur on someone else’s premises. Premises accidents can also occur on poorly maintained elevators or escalators or could result from poor security on the premises.
- Boating accidents – Just like motor vehicle operators, boaters must always operate their watercraft safely and carefully and keep their watercraft is in a safe condition. Boat injuries can come about when a boat operator negligently causes the boat to collide with another watercraft or even with a stationary object in the water. People can also sustain injuries on a boat when the boat is not properly maintained, such as loose railings and stairs or inadequately cleaned walking surfaces, resulting in a slip-and-fall accident.
If you sustained an injury because of another person or entity’s negligence, you may file a legal claim against the responsible party. An experienced personal injury attorney in your area could assist you with filing a claim because of the injuries that you suffered in your accident.
Filing a Claim for Personal Injuries With an Insurance Company
If you suffered an injury in an accident that resulted from another person’s negligence, you can file a claim with the insurance company arising from that accident. In many instances, the accident victim can file a claim with the at-fault person’s insurance company. For example, if you sustain an injury in a motor vehicle accident that occurred because the at-fault driver ran a red light, you could bring a claim against the at-fault driver’s motor vehicle insurance carrier. Similarly, if a slip and fall accident that occurred on someone else’s property caused you injuries, and you can establish that the property owner was negligent in maintaining the property, you could file a claim with the insurance company that insures the owner’s property.
Once the appropriate insurance company receives an accident claim, it will be up to the insurance company to accept liability. When that occurs, an accident victim’s attorney typically submits a settlement demand package on behalf of the accident victim. A demand package tries to get the insurance company to make a settlement offer on the case, compensating the accident victim for the injuries they suffered in the accident.
A settlement demand package in a personal injury case typically includes:
- Copies of all of the accident victim’s medical records and bills that describe the treatment the accident victim received for injuries suffered in the subject accident and the costs associated with that medical treatment
- Copies of all lost wage documentation showing the number of days (or hours) that the accident victim missed from work as a result of injuries they suffered in the accident
- A copy of the police report or any other investigative report that someone prepared following the accident and that which may show who was responsible for the accident
- Photographs of any visible property damage sustained as a result of the accident, including damage to motor vehicles
- Photographs of visible injuries that the accident victim sustained in the accident
- A victim impact statement in which the accident victim describes, in their own words, the impact that the accident and injuries have had on their lives and well being
Once the personal injury attorney submits a completed demand package to the insurance company, the insurance company adjuster will review all of the documentation. After a thorough review, the adjuster might make an introductory settlement offer on the case. This initial offer does not typically represent the full amount of compensation that the insurance company is prepared to offer the accident victim. In fact, these initial offers are usually far below the full value of the personal injury claim. Adjusters make these initial low offers to see if the accident victim is in a hurry to accept, which would allow the insurance company to save itself as much money as possible.
In most personal injury cases, the accident victim’s attorney will need to negotiate with the insurance company adjuster several times to see if the adjuster will gradually increase their offer. If the case does not settle, or if there comes a point where the parties agree to disagree, then the personal injury attorney may file a lawsuit on the accident victim’s behalf.
Filing a lawsuit begins the litigation process, after which the accident victim may ultimately decide to go to trial or where the parties may pursue some form of alternative dispute resolution, such as arbitration or mediation. Even after the attorney files a lawsuit on behalf of the accident victim, the personal injury case can still settle at any point.
Satisfying the Legal Burden of Proof When It Comes to Your Injuries
As the plaintiff in a personal injury case, an accident victim has the legal burden of proof. To successfully claim injuries and prove a personal injury case, the accident victim must satisfy several legal elements. First, the accident victim must establish that the at-fault person or entity owed them a legal duty of care. In a slip and fall accident, for example, the accident victim must establish that the property owner where the accident occurred owed a duty to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition for the benefit of visitors.
In addition to proving that a duty of care existed, the accident victim must also establish that the at-fault party violated the duty of care in some way and that this violation led to the accident and subsequent injuries.
Finally, the accident victim must establish that they suffered one or more personal injuries and that the accident was a cause (can be one of several possible causes) of the claimed injury or injuries. When it comes to proving injuries in an accident, a personal injury attorney might retain the services of an expert who can causally connect the injuries to the accident.
For example, in a case where the accident victim had pre-existing injuries, a medical doctor can state to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the subject accident likely exacerbated the accident victim’s pre-existing medical condition. In addition, a healthcare provider could testify at trial that in their expert medical opinion, a particular injury claimed by the accident victim actually occurred in the accident.
Finally, when the accident victim testifies at trial, they could describe the mechanics of a particular injury, demonstrating that the injury actually occurred during the accident. For example, the accident victim could describe how their body twisted or moved in the vehicle at the point of impact or how a certain body part struck something in the vehicle, such as the steering wheel, console, dashboard, headrest, or window.
Pursuing and Recovering Monetary Compensation and Damages for Your Injuries
When an accident victim successfully proves their injuries in a personal injury claim or lawsuit, they could recover various damages. The available amounts and types of damages an accident victim can seek depend on the seriousness of the accident or injury, the type of injury that the accident victim suffered, and the severity of the injury (such as whether or not the injury is temporary or permanent).
Moreover, if a healthcare provider determines that the accident victim will likely need a future medical procedure, then those anticipated medical costs can factor into a potential damage award.
Potential damages in a personal injury case include compensation for the following:
- Medical treatment and procedure bills
- Lost earnings
- Lost earning capacity (for instance, if the accident victim has to switch occupations or cannot work at all in the future)
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Loss of the ability to use a body part
There can be a lot at stake when you claim injuries from an accident, so do not try to take on an insurance company alone. Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in your area who can assist you with proving your claim ad obtaining the financial recovery you deserve.