Months, even years, after your accident, you may still be dealing with the consequences, with the persistent headache or twinge in your shoulder a nagging reminder of the day your life changed.

If you’ve been hurt in an accident that wasn’t your fault, whether at work, in a car, truck, or motorcycle crash, or from a slip and fall at a restaurant or shopping mall, you may be entitled to compensation.

The aftermath of an accident is often a stressful and confusing time, but the actions you take immediately afterward — or as soon as you’re well enough — can make a massive difference to a personal injury claim.

Your focus after your injury should be your recovery. It’s vital to prioritize your physical health and follow your doctor’s instructions — not doing so could impact how much compensation you receive — but the legal clock is also ticking.

Here, a San Antonio personal injury lawyer explores the importance of taking action as soon as possible after your accident.

The Crucial Role of Evidence

Evidence is critical for a successful personal injury claim, and it can come in many forms, from witness testimony, medical records, and accident reports to photographs of physical injuries or debris from a crash.

Together, these pieces help establish several elements:

  • How the accident happened.
  • That you sustained injuries during the accident.
  • The nature of your injuries, including their severity.
  • The impact of your injuries on your life.
  • The other damages you suffered because of your accident, such as being unable to work.
  • Who is responsible for the accident.

However, evidence can deteriorate quickly or disappear entirely. Skid marks on a road or debris from a collision may get washed away or cleared, or witnesses who saw what happened and who caused the accident may forget specific details over time, relocate to another city or state, or even pass away. Therefore, collecting evidence quickly becomes vital and can make or break a case.

But while gathering evidence may sound straightforward, it can be challenging in practice. Without knowing which types of evidence will best support your case, you may neglect a vital piece that proves liability or entitles you to more compensation. Alternatively, you may invest time and energy collecting evidence you don’t need — resources you could have spent focusing on your recovery.

The prospect of gathering evidence would intimidate anyone, but it can be particularly challenging for an accident victim experiencing significant pain or exhaustion at the slightest overexertion. For those recovering from surgery, in hospital, or coping with life-altering injuries such as brain or spinal cord damage, it may be impossible.

However, if you seek legal advice early, you’ll have a knowledgeable ally in your corner who can help you build your case. They’ll be able to source evidence, track down and interview witnesses, and advise you on what documents you might have — or can collect — that will support your claim, such as receipts for medical bills, quotes for repairing property damage, and payslips showing how much you earn.

Seeking Medical Treatment

Medical records provide concrete evidence of the injuries you’ve sustained, when you sustained them, and the impact they’ve had on an accident survivor’s life.

If a person fails to seek treatment after their accident and later wants to file a claim, they may struggle to prove their injuries happened during the accident. The other party may claim you had the injuries before the accident or sustained them in a separate event afterward. Without records indicating otherwise, they may succeed, affecting the compensation they offer or compromising your claim entirely.

But many put off seeking treatment after an accident because they cannot afford it.

Hiring an attorney can be beneficial for those worried about paying for medical care, as your lawyer may be able to help you get medical treatment and defer payment until you receive a settlement. This arrangement allows you to get the treatment you need — along with the associated evidence for your claim — without worrying about how you will afford it. In many cases, any medical costs you incur are deducted automatically from your final settlement amount, so you will not have to worry about arranging payment on your own.

Calculating Your Claim’s Worth

Understanding how much your claim is worth is crucial for achieving fair compensation. After your accident, you’ll likely hear from an insurance adjuster wanting to settle your claim, preventing you from taking it further and filing legal action. When you’re facing time off work and mounting medical bills, the promise of a quick payout can be tempting, and the offer may seem fair, but you risk recovering much less than your claim is worth.

An attorney can help by calculating the value of your claim and negotiating a fair settlement.

One mistake many individuals make is failing to consider the potential long-term impact of their injuries. Injuries can worsen over time or have lasting consequences, entitling you to more compensation than you might consider settling for. For example, a person might break a bone in a car accident and accept an offer that covers the cost of their medical bills and time off work. However, they later find that they need surgery to correct the fracture and are left with permanent weakness in their hand, affecting their daily life and requiring them to accept a lower-paying job because they can no longer complete their previous duties.

What might have initially seemed a fair settlement is anything but — this individual suffers chronic weakness they could have recovered compensation for and is now out of pocket for additional medical expenses, not to mention the accumulative loss of wages they’ve suffered because they had to accept another job.

An attorney will advise rejecting an offer until they fully understand your injury prognosis and all the potential complications that may occur. They’ll seek expert testimony from the best medical professionals to support your claim.

Dealing with Insurance Adjusters

An insurance adjuster’s primary role is to evaluate your damages and pay out as little as possible. They might use several tactics, from adopting a friendly, empathetic approach to get you on their side to aggressively questioning or pressuring you to accept a low offer. This experience can be overwhelming and intimidating for someone battling physical injuries and emotional stress after an accident.

Fortunately, you do not have to navigate this alone. Personal injury lawyers understand the tactics commonly used by adjusters and know how to handle communications to safeguard your claim.

You are under no obligation to speak to an insurance adjuster, but avoiding the conversation does not mean they’ll stop asking for information. An attorney can advise you on how to approach conversations with these parties — including what to say and what not to say. However, there is an additional benefit of hiring legal counsel. Your lawyer can handle all communications on your behalf, meaning you won’t have to worry about inadvertently saying something that could affect your claim. More than that, though, hiring an attorney takes a massive burden off your shoulders — perhaps one of the most important reasons for seeking legal counsel as soon as possible after your accident.

Suffering an injury — especially in an accident that wasn’t your fault — is an immensely trying time. Interviewing attorneys might be the last thing on your mind, but the stress they will take from your plate during your relationship compared to going it alone far outweighs the initial effort. Your attorney’s job is to protect your legal rights and secure the maximum possible compensation you are entitled to — something you may continue to enjoy the benefits of many years or even decades after your accident. In doing so, they provide additional benefits, including giving you the time, freedom, and peace of mind to focus on what is most important: your recovery.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *