Nothing can blindside you quite like an accident or injury: one minute, you’re fine, and the next, you’re dealing with pain and suffering that could last weeks, months, or even years.
If you’re struggling with a personal injury, you’re far from alone: according to the CDC, a whopping 39.5 billion Americans visit doctors each year for unintentional injuries. Of those, many have to deal with unpaid medical bills, stress and anxiety, and time away from work. And when the accident wasn’t your fault, you’ll also have to worry about getting personal injury compensation!
When every dollar counts, it’s critical to make the most of your claim. A few key steps can help you maximize your compensation when you need it most. Here’s what you should do—and not do—to get as much as you deserve.
1. Evaluate Your Injury in Full
If you want to maximize your claim, you’ll need an expert third party to document the severity of the damages. When it comes to a personal injury claim, this means seeing a doctor who can present an accurate picture of any injuries you’ve received.
Even if you feel fine after an accident, it’s important to get medical attention. An expert can rule out subtle medical concerns and internal traumas that could worsen in time.
What’s more, don’t forget to factor in any emotional turmoil, stress, anxiety, or PTSD you may be experiencing. You may not consider this to be part of your “injury,” but these types of suffering are relevant to your case, and you may be able to get compensation for them.
2. Factor In Future Damages
While you may be focused on your immediate medical needs, it’s important to remember that you may suffer from the consequences of an accident for months or even years, depending on the injury.
As a result, it’s critical to consider your medical needs both now and in the future. Work with your doctor to understand the recommended long-term treatment plan for your injuries, and include future damages in any claim you make.
3. Preserve All Relevant Evidence
When it comes to personal injury cases—like other legal claims—a jury will decide your outcome based on what you can prove.
In other words, the compensation you receive depends on your ability to show evidence.
This means that it’s crucial to preserve any and all evidence relevant to your case. When in doubt, it’s better to be prepared with too much evidence than too little. Here are a few types of evidence you should secure, at an absolute minimum:
- Take photos and videos of the accident scene, as well as your own injuries
- Collect the contact details for any witnesses
- Obtain a copy of the police report
- Obtain copies of any medical reports made about your injuries
- Document medical recommendations for follow-up care, including surgeries or physical therapy
Don’t hesitate to dig into the granular details to make sure you can help the jury understand your situation and perspectives.
Depending on the type of personal injury case, you may need additional evidence. If you’re not sure what else to have on hand, contact a personal injury attorney to see what other documentation you should get.
4. Act Fast
With the pain and suffering that follows a personal injury, it’s easy to get distracted by immediate concerns like medical care or ensuring you can pay the bills. Legal battles may become a secondary concern in the face of your struggles.
However, it’s important to act fast if you’re thinking about getting the compensation you deserve. You’ll need to file a claim before the statute of limitations runs out on your case, and the length of time you have will vary by state. Reaching out to a local personal injury lawyer can help you understand the time limits and get you started with the first steps of your settlement or lawsuit.
5. Don’t Accept the First Offer
It’s almost standard practice for insurance adjusters to toss out a lowball offer at first. The insurance company may even try to deny any liability.
This is a strategy designed to tell whether or not you know the value of your personal injury claim—and whether you’re willing to fight for compensation.
If the initial offer is unreasonable, denying it and following up with a better counteroffer can help show a willingness to compromise.
6. Stay Off Social Media
Ever heard the saying that “everything can and will be held against you?” In the digital age, “everything” also extends to your social media posts.
If you’re claiming that your injuries are debilitating, posting a vacation picture that shows you swimming at the beach might not be what you want a jury to see.
At the very least, you should avoid posting anything that might detract from your case. In terms of best practices, staying away from social media entirely for the duration of the case would be ideal.
7. Take Your Time
When you’re faced with mounting medical bills, it’s tempting to take the first offer that looks anywhere close to reasonable, just to get your finances in order. This is especially true if you’re out of work because of your injury.
However, taking a lower offer may be cutting yourself short. Rely on the advice of your personal injury lawyer, who will be able to tell when you should accept an offer—and when you should fight for better compensation.
Get the Personal Injury Compensation You Deserve
The steps you take after an injury matter. If you aim to get the personal injury compensation you deserve, it’s critical to follow the key tips above. Beyond these, make sure to work with an attorney who can help you with the specifics of your personal injury settlement or claim.
Looking for more of the key legal insights you need? Check out our other posts for further info.