Understanding Your Rights When Dealing with a Personal Injury Case

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By Veronica Baxter

One of the most stressful things anyone can go through is being hurt in an accident. Whether you were in a car accident, slipped and fell on a broken sidewalk or slippery floor, or were struck by falling construction debris, the result is the same. Not only are you in pain and undergoing medical treatment, but you are also likely missing work, unable to perform family duties at home, and worrying about the outcome of your case.

Don’t worry. This advice lets you know what you can do when you are in an accident and injured and when you can do it and comes from the office of renowned personal injury lawyers in Bucks County, PA.

What to Do Immediately After Being Hurt in an Accident

Get Medical Attention

Call 911 if you can, or ask a bystander to do it for you. Do not get up and try to “shake it off” because many injuries do not become apparent until your adrenaline subsides, some 24-48 hours after the accident. 

Accept medical attention and go to the hospital if the first responders ask you to go. If they ask you how you were injured, you can get specific. Your medical providers need to know what happened so that they can thoroughly examine you for possible injuries.

Witnesses and the Police

Get the contact information of bystanders so that you have it if you need it. If you are inside an establishment when you are injured, ask for a supervisor or manager and take down that person’s name.

You can tell the police what happened if you are able, but try to say as little as possible, especially if you feel woozy. It is perfectly acceptable to tell the police, “I can’t talk with you right now, I’m too dizzy or in too much pain” or “I need to go to the hospital and when they discharge me I will come in and fill out a police report.” Do not let them bully you into describing the accident if you do not feel up to it.

Take Photographs with Your Phone

If you can, snap some pictures of the scene with your phone. These will show the extent of the property damage, the approximate time of day, and the weather conditions at the time of the accident. If your accident is a slip-and-fall or construction debris accident, be sure to note the street address and if there is a business name or construction company name and take a picture of that. 

Be sure to also take photographs of your injury right after it happens and in the days following, as bruises appear. Keep a log of how you feel, where it hurts or aches, and what work, duties, chores, or activities you are prevented from doing by your injury.

Car Accidents

If the accident was an auto accident, trade contact, and insurance information with the other driver but do not accept or place blame for the accident. Do try to write down whatever the other driver says, again, if you need it. Call your insurance company as soon as you can to inform them of the accident, and again, say nothing to incriminate yourself.

Dealing with the Insurance Company

Whether your accident was an auto accident, a slip-and-fall, or a construction debris accident, the person liable for your injuries will likely be insured. Once that person or company is identified, you will be able to get in touch with their auto insurer or premises liability insurer, let them know what happened, and hopefully, be offered a settlement that will compensate you for your medical bills, lost wages, and perhaps pain and suffering.

Again, be sure to say nothing incriminating. But if you believe you might say something wrong and mess up your case, contact a personal injury attorney for help. Your attorney does not get paid unless and until you do, and they will do all the work for you, such as:

  • Negotiating with the insurance company for a settlement payment;
  • Gathering eyewitness information and interviewing them;
  • Dealing with the police, if necessary;
  • Filing a lawsuit on your behalf, if necessary.

Filing a Lawsuit

If your attorney believes that the insurance company is offering a low-ball settlement and that you will prevail in court, they will file a lawsuit on your behalf. Be sure to select an experienced personal injury attorney in your jurisdiction to represent you. Insurance companies know who the tigers are in the practice area, and an attorney with a reputation as a fighter will be more likely to get a higher settlement offer once litigation has commenced.

During litigation, you will be sworn in as a witness. You will have to describe what happened, what injuries you suffered, and how those injuries have affected your ability to work, perform everyday tasks, and enjoy life. This is where talking too much to third parties at the scene or otherwise, can get you into trouble, because if you said one thing then, and another while testifying, that throws your testimony into doubt. If your testimony is false, you can be tried for committing perjury, which is a serious crime.

Your job is to heal from your accident. The earlier you seek the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer, the better off you will be, and the less you will have to worry about saying or doing something wrong and compromising your case.

About the Author

Veronica Baxter is a blogger and legal assistant working and living in the great city of Philadelphia. She frequently works with HGSK, bad faith insurance lawyers with offices throughout Pennsylvania.

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