Accidents can happen at any time, so Vancouver personal injury lawyers say some knowledge about how to pursue of a personal injury legal claim can be very helpful to anyone so unfortunate as to be an accident casualty. Personal injury claims can be for virtually countless types of injuries from car crashes, slip and fall accidents, or use of dangerously defective products as examples. Fortunately, there are several steps personal injury grievants can take to prepare for filing legal claims or civil lawsuits:
1. Seek immediate, professional medical attention
The first thing to do is to get professional medical attention for the injuries. It is premature and unwise to attempt to handle any personal injury claim before a medical practitioner examines and addresses the nature, extent, and prognosis of the injuries.
Potential claimants should know that failure to obtain medical attention immediately after a car accident sometimes reduces the amount of monetary damages. Injured parties to lawsuits may have the duty to mitigate and not to magnify their losses by failure to take appropriate and available measures to keep the injury from causing complications from additional injuries or economic costs.
2. File a Police Report
A formal police report is substantial, reliable, and probative evidence of important facts and information about the incident. The names and contact information of parties, witnesses, and responders involved are important not only in themselves but also as sources of additional, relevant information. As an official record of salient, relevant facts, the police report can be useful as a forensic aid in refreshing witness recollections in court or as evidence in itself of past recollections recorded, a use not infrequent in lawsuits that can go on for years.
3. Be careful about statements at the accident scene
It may be necessary to communicate directly with the opposing party at the scene, but careful discretion always should be the rule. Statements are far more likely than silences to damage a claimant’s case. The injured claimant has no duty to state any opinion as to fault or to provide any facts other than identity, contact information, and insurance carrier. Additional statements can complicate the situation and create conflicts in accounts of the event.
4. Keep complete records of all related costs and expenses
Hospital bills, medical statements, bills for property damage, and insurance records are all related, as are records of lost income if the injury has caused the claimant to lose time from work. Also worth the time and effort to prepare is a personal, written account of the injury while the facts and events remain clear in the claimant’s memory.
5. Find out about filing deadlines
Claimants must make all case filings on time or they may find themselves out of court. Most personal injury claims have a certain deadline after the injury for filing in the courts. State statutes of limitations govern these time periods, which vary by jurisdiction and type of claim. If the statute of limitations expires, the claim dies unless some unusual or extraordinary circumstances can reinstate it.
6. Do some basic research on the legal process
The claimant may find some familiarity with the basics of personal injury practice worthwhile. Expert knowledge of procedure and rules of practice is neither necessary nor as a practical matter to be encouraged, but discussion with a lawyer about some basic guidelines can take some of the mystery out of the process.
7. Be on guard with insurance companies
Insurers are not afraid to complicate and obfuscate the legal process in personal injury claims, but in most cases some contact with them is necessary. To protect their interests in negotiations with insurers, claimants should have lawyers on retainers for advice and advocacy as necessary. Most personal injury lawyers agree for contingency fees to help claimants with truly valid cases, so the retainer is a risk-free investment in that, if the claim turns out to be a loser, there is no legal fee.
8. Sign nothing without understanding what it says
Make sure any document or form to be filled out or signed in relation to the personal injury is fully comprehensible. Do not sign if not sure of the larger consequences. Consult an attorney for help in any such situation. Any documents presented long after the event, any contracts that release anyone from liability, or any that require relinquishment of a right or privilege are always presumably treacherous. If without counsel, claimants confronting such documents should consult with attorneys before even considering ratification.
9. Do not settle the case alone without counsel
Trying to settle with the opposing party’s insurer can be a complex process, and the complexity can be calculated to cause misunderstanding. If unsure of what to do, by all means consult with experienced Vancouver personal injury lawyers, especially if the opposing other party has hired a lawyer. Again, retaining an attorney makes perfect sense financially in personal injury cases because the client pays no legal fee if the case fails to recover damages.
10. Know the type of lawyer needed
Not all personal injury lawyers are alike. Some specialize in certain torts, while others are more general in their practice. There are many different types of personal injury lawyers, and one may be more suitable than another. When interviewing a personal injury lawyer, be sure to ask about the case histories and the particular personal injury cases they prefer.
Consult the Best Vancouver Personal Injury Lawyers
The lawyers from the Law Office of Loren Scott Etengoff, a Vancouver personal injury law firm, understand from experience that the legal field of personal injury involves individuals who suffer physical or psychological pain from automobile, truck, bicycle, or pedestrian accidents, construction-site incidents, slip and falls, and dog bites caused by negligence of others. To prove negligence, they iron out exact details of each incident and present them in a way to sway decisions in client your directions. For best results, consult expert personal injury lawyers Vancouver from the beginning of every case. Call 360-693-2919 today for a free consultation.