How Long Do You Have to File a Personal Injury Claim?
The amount of time that you have after an accident to claim an injury depends on the type of injury that you allegedly sustained in your accident, as well as the time limits imposed by the jurisdiction where your accident happened.
An experienced Duluth personal injury lawyer in your area can help you determine the likelihood that you can claim that a particular injury stems from your accident. Your lawyer can also explain the statute of limitations deadline that applies to personal injury actions in your jurisdiction, and they should ensure that any claim or lawsuit filed in your case is done so in a timely and efficient manner. Your lawyer will then work to secure a favorable settlement offer in your case. If the insurance company still refuses to settle your case favorably, then your attorney can pursue litigation in the state civil court system on your behalf.
Time Restrictions on Personal Injury Cases
The amount of time that you have following an accident to bring a legal claim against the at-fault individual depends on the jurisdiction where your accident occurred. In some jurisdictions, you may have as few as one or two years to file a lawsuit arising out of your injuries. In other jurisdictions, you may have as many as four or five years to file a personal injury lawsuit for compensation and damages. Even though a few years might seem like a long time, the time can pass quickly when you are dealing with your injury and medical treatment.
Given that the statute of limitations starts running right away in most cases, you must speak with an experienced lawyer in your state as soon as possible after you suffer an injury in your accident. A lawyer will know the personal injury statute of limitations that applies to cases in your state and can file a timely claim or lawsuit on your behalf.
If the time deadline is getting close, even if your case is likely to settle, your lawyer can still file a personal injury lawsuit to protect the applicable statute of limitations. This protects your right to seek compensation in court should it become necessary, and you can still settle your case or take it to trial at any time.
Medical Treatment Following Your Accident
Serious accidents, such as motor vehicle collisions, slip and falls, boating accidents, motorcycle and bicycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents can result in extremely serious injuries, such as bone fractures, soft tissue injuries, back and spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, shoulder injuries, internal injuries, and even death. After one of these accidents, you must seek medical treatment for your injuries right away. You can seek this treatment at a local urgent care center or hospital emergency room, or you may get an appointment with your family doctor or primary care physician.
Your doctor can ascertain your medical condition and can also order the necessary imaging studies, such as X-rays and MRIs, to determine the nature and extent of the injuries that you suffered in your accident. Moreover, the emergency room doctor can make a recommendation for follow-up treatment. For example, the emergency room doctor may recommend that you follow up with a specialist, such as a neurologist or an orthopedist, and/or that you follow up with your family care doctor if you have not done so already.
One of the main reasons why medical care is so important after your accident is so that there will be a greater chance of causally relating your injuries to the accident. In other words, if you seek prompt medical treatment, it is less likely that the at-fault person’s insurance company will state that you delayed in seeking treatment, that you were not taking your medical treatment seriously, or that you did not suffer injuries to the extent that you are claiming.
In addition, you must seek proper medical treatment after your accident, even if you are unsure about the severity of your injuries. This is true because even minor injuries can develop into major injuries if you significantly delay in seeking medical treatment following your accident.
After you have completed your initial medical treatment, your biggest priority at that point should be to rest, recover, and recuperate from the injuries you suffered in your accident. It is also important that you speak with a personal injury attorney near you about your legal options and the next steps that you should be taking in your accident case.
Never Delay Medical Treatment
Although you should seek same-day medical treatment, this is not always an option for everyone. In some instances, the accident victim may not even know that he or she suffered an injury in the accident. At other times, the accident victim may not have adequate health insurance coverage, and therefore, he or she may wait a period of time before seeking additional medical treatment.
The unfortunate truth is that the longer you wait to seek medical treatment, the harder it can be to connect your injuries to the accident. Generally speaking, waiting a while to claim that you suffered injuries or to seek medical treatment for your injuries, while not preferable, may still be compensable. However, if you wait months after your accident to seek initial medical treatment, or to try to claim a new injury from your accident, you may have difficulty doing so. It is always worth it to have an attorney evaluate your situation. To learn more about what an attorney can do for your case learn what a personal injury attorney does from the skilled legal team at Brauns Law, P.C.
To recover monetary compensation in a personal injury case, you must demonstrate that the at-fault individual owed you a duty of care. You must also show that the person responsible for your accident violated this duty of care, that the accident occurred as a result, and that you suffered one or more physical injuries and damages.
When it comes to medical causation, a healthcare provider often needs to give their opinion in your personal injury case. Specifically, a healthcare provider must state, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that the accident was a cause of your injury. The accident needn’t cause your injury—but it must contribute to or aggravate the injury or injuries that you claim.
The longer you wait after your accident to seek medical treatment for an injury, and the longer you wait to introduce new symptoms or injuries to your claim, the harder it can be for a healthcare provider to causally connect your injury or injuries to the subject accident. In cases in which a new symptom arises weeks or months after your accident date, you should speak with your healthcare provider and notify him or her of that fact as soon as possible.
If necessary, your healthcare provider may write an opinion letter and/or a causal connection letter, if he or she feels that the new injuries or symptoms are related to the accident in which you were involved. If a healthcare provider determines that these new injuries were pre-existing, or that they were the result of degenerative changes, it is less likely that they will be compensable as part of your accident case.
An experienced lawyer in your area will review all of your medical records and determine the likelihood that your injury or injuries will be compensable as part of your personal injury case. They can determine the strength of the evidence regarding the cause of your injuries and your losses. You May also have other questions around your case review some of our personal injury FAQ resources compiled by the skilled legal team at Brauns Law, P.C.
The Insurance Company’s Decision-Making Process
The claims process begins when your lawyer makes a demand for settlement and includes all of your medical records, medical bills, and other documentation pertaining to your case. As part of a demand package, your lawyer can include a causal connection letter that was prepared in support of your case by a healthcare provider.
Once the insurance company receives the demand package, an adjuster will be assigned to your case. He or she will review all of the medical records, bills, and other documentation, and if the insurance company accepts liability for the accident, it may make a settlement offer.
In determining the amount of the settlement offer, the insurance company will consider the nature and extent of your medical treatment, the extent to which you took your medical treatment seriously (i.e., no missed appointments, etc.), the quality of your medical treatment, and the regularity of your medical treatment. The insurance company should also review and consider any letters that a healthcare provider drafted on your behalf.
In many cases, initial settlement offers made by insurance company adjusters are extremely low. To reach a full and favorable settlement, your lawyer will often need to negotiate with the adjuster and try to resolve the case that way. If both sides cannot come to an agreement, the accident victim has the option of filing a complaint against the at-fault individual in the court system for your jurisdiction. At that point, the case will enter into the litigation stage of the process.
Just because you file a complaint in the court system does not necessarily mean that your case will go to trial. In fact, many accident and injury cases settle out of court. Once the parties complete discovery, there will often be a settlement conference with the court to see if you can reach a favorable resolution.
The ultimate decision about whether to take a personal injury accident case to a jury trial rests with the accident victim. As an alternative to trial, the parties may decide upon mediation, arbitration, or some other alternative dispute resolution mechanism, where a neutral third-party assists both sides with facilitating a resolution to the disputed issues in the case, including the issue of monetary compensation and damages.
An experienced lawyer in your jurisdiction will help you decide whether a particular settlement offer that is on the table fully and fairly compensates you for all of your injuries. A lawyer can also help you decide whether you should accept a particular settlement offer, take the case to trial in front of a jury, or pursue some form of alternative dispute resolution in your case.
Pursuing Monetary Recovery for Your Injuries
To recover monetary compensation for a particular injury or injuries, a healthcare provider or medical expert must relate your injuries and symptoms to the accident in which you were involved.
In personal injury cases, the amount of compensable damages you may receive depends primarily on the nature and extent of your injuries, the cost of your medical treatment, and the extent of your medical treatment. Generally speaking, the more serious and extensive your injuries and the more expensive your medical treatment, the higher the settlement or verdict value of your personal injury case.
As part of a personal injury case, you may recover financial compensation for your out-of-pocket expenses, medical expenses, and lost wages if you missed time away from your job to treat your injuries.
In addition to these economic costs, you may also file a claim for non-economic compensation as a result of the injuries you suffered in your accident. These non-economic costs can include loss of earning capacity for your future inability to work, pain and suffering, mental distress, emotional anguish, inconvenience, inability to use a body part, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of spousal companionship, loss of family support, and permanent disability.
Contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer in your area will work to help you pursue the most compensation available to you in your case, in light of the injuries you suffered, your medical treatment, and your permanency, if any. Do not wait to contact a trusted law firm about a possible case. To narrow down results about what lawyer is right for your case review this blog about “How to Find a Personal Injury Lawyer.”
Brauns Law, P.C.
3175 Satellite Boulevard, Bldg 600
Duluth, GA 30096