First Steps in a Personal Injury Claim
The time just after you have been injured in a slip and fall or accident can often be a confusing and stressful. First an foremost, look after your health. But when you are ready, you can begin thinking about pursuing a personal injury claim for your injuries. Here are some frequently asked questions about the first steps in a personal injury claim.
I was hurt in an accident. What should I do first?
As mentioned in the introduction, the first thing that you should always do after being injured in an accident to look after your health. However, if you have already done this, then there are a number of steps that you can take that will help preserve your right to file a claim for your personal injuries. These steps are valid in most situations and there is no "right" order to take (note: if you need to file a claim against the government or a government agency, there are other specific steps that should be taken).
- Collect evidence that can point to who caused the accident, as well as the damage caused by the accident. Photographs are useful here.
- Write down everything that has happened to you after the accident. This may include things like medical bills, hospital visits, any lost work or wages, etc.
- Be sure to get the names and contact information of any witnesses that may have observed the accident. Contact these people to confirm their contact information.
- If you speak to other people that were involved in the accident, be sure to take notes about your conversation.
- Tell anyone that you may file suit against that you are planning on filing a claim for your injuries and property damage.
How long do I have to notify a person that I am filing a claim for my personal injury?
If you are planning on filing suit against an individual or some other entity that is not the government or a government agency, there is not set time limit in which you have to notify that person of your intention to file a lawsuit. However, this does not mean that you should take your time with the matter. By acting quickly and efficiently, you will probably increase your chances of resolving your claim faster than if you delay.
It is good to keep in mind that even though you notify people of your intent to file a lawsuit, this does not mean that you must file a lawsuit. By giving notice, you only preserve your rights and prevent the other parties from defending against a lawsuit by arguing that you waited too long to inform them of your injuries. By notifying the other parties, you simply ensure that you can proceed with negotiations regarding settlement and arbitration at your own speed, without feeling rushed.
Is there a time limit in which I have to file my lawsuit to be compensated for my injuries?
Yes. Settling a personal injury claim can be time consuming, and if you fail to file your claim in a timely manner, you may be completely out of luck in collecting any sort of compensation. There are laws on the books called "statutes of limitations" that give the maximum time you have to bring certain types of lawsuits. If this time period passes you up, you may be barred from ever bringing suit to recover for your injuries. You should always check on your state's statute of limitations for your type of claim to ensure that the time period does not pass you by.
How soon do I have to file a claim against the government for my personal injury?
Unlike filing a claim against an individual or a company, if you need to file a claim against the government or a government agency or employee, you have a limited amount of time in which you must file a claim. Depending upon your type of case and the state you live in, this time period usually ranges between 30 days and one year. If you do not abide by these timelines, you may lose your right to recover any sort of compensation for your injuries or property damage.
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Injuries cost money, including medical bills and time away from work, which is why it makes sense to have an attorney help you with your claim. But if you're not quite sure whether you need professional legal help after an injury, have a lawyer review your claim first at no charge. Then, if you decide you have a claim you want to pursue, you can take that next step.