A recent study of 20 million Americans found that each participant had an average of $2,200 in medical debt. Whether you have insurance or not, unexpected medical bills can wreak havoc on your financial stability.
If you are the victim of an accident caused by a third party, you may not have to pay off that debt on your own. Filing a personal injury claim is a way to receive the damages you are owed and avoid amassing severe medical debt.
The question is, what are the steps you need to take in order to file a personal injury claim?
Read on to learn how to file a personal injury claim with this simple, easy-to-follow guide.
1. Seek Immediate Medical Attention
The first thing you need to do after the accident occurs is to seek medical attention. Not only is this important for your own health and safety but it is also a crucial component of your personal injury claim.
Seeking immediate medical attention helps to establish a timeline. It also gives you some insight into what kind of future medical attention you will need, what your recovery process will look like, and how much the entire situation will cost you.
Remember, you may need to return for further medical treatment. Make sure that you follow your doctor or specialist’s orders.
2. Gather Documentation
One of the things you will need to establish when filing a personal injury claim is the monetary compensation you are owed. That means that you need to hang on to any documentation of three key things.
First, make sure that you document the injuries, themselves. You will want to take pictures if the injuries are external and request copies of any medical records or doctor’s notes regarding the injury.
Second, document the necessary treatments you have received and will receive in the future. Once again, you will want to request copies of all related medical records from your doctor or specialist.
Third, make sure you keep clear records of any related costs and damages. This includes bills and statements from your medical professional. It also includes any paystubs or other similar documents that show any lost income caused by your injury.
3. Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
Trying to file a personal injury claim without an experienced lawyer isn’t impossible, but it is inadvisable. The defendant’s insurance company will surely come equipped with their own legal team that will do everything they can to undermine your claim. Find out more about why you need a personal injury lawyer when filing a personal injury claim.
4. Work With Your Lawyer to Investigate the Accident
Once you have legal representation, it is time to start investigating the accident, itself. Your lawyer will want copies of all of the documentation you have gathered. They will also want to see anything else you have that can establish not only the results of the accident but the circumstances that caused it.
That means that any photos or videos you have from the scene of the accident are pertinent. If you have the contact information of any witnesses, this will also become a crucial part of investigating the accident. Some lawyers may also request the assistance of accident reconstruction specialists depending on the nature of the accident.
5. Establish Negligence
When it comes to personal injury claims, negligence is key. The reality is that a personal injury claim is not the right move if an accident and injury resulted from malicious or ill intent. Instead, these things typically happen by accident, but the key is that they could have been prevented.
To clarify, let’s look at a few key examples.
Negligence in Car Accidents
Let’s take a look at the example of a car accident caused by negligence. A driver is expected to pay attention to the road, follow all related laws, and drive with reasonable care. Driving while intoxicated, while texting, or while otherwise failing to pay attention or abide by the law is considered negligent driving.
Negligence in Slip and Fall Accidents
Many personal injury claims are filed after a slip and fall accident occurs. For example, let’s say that a customer walks into a store and slips on a wet, recently mopped floor. If there were no signs indicating that the floor was wet, this is considered negligence to provide any reasonable warning to customers of the potentially dangerous conditions.
Negligence in Medical Malpractice
Medical professionals are expected to provide a reasonable level of care in relation to their abilities and your condition. Proving negligence in the case of medical malpractice isn’t always easy, simply because each case is so nuanced. For example, not every misdiagnosis counts as medical malpractice, but it would if the doctor failed to assess your previous medical history or blatantly ignored your symptoms.
6. File Your Personal Injury Claim
Once you’ve gathered the proper documentation and evidence with a lawyer and you’ve established a case of negligence, it’s time to file your personal injury claim. First, you have to alert everyone involved (including the defendant and their insurance company) of your intentions. This is usually completed by a process server, law enforcement officer, or official of the court.
Once this is complete, it is time to open your claim and begin settlement talks.
Don’t Get Saddled With Excessive Medical Debt
Medical debt is one of the gripping problems in America, disrupting the financial stability of millions of people. If you are the victim of an injury caused by a third party, you may be able to file a personal injury claim. This will remove the burden of medical debt from your shoulders, protecting your bank account and ensuring that you will receive proper medical attention.
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