Bodily Injury Claim Process
Accidents happen despite our best efforts and good intentions.
The National Center For Health Statistics tracked and reported 24.8 million physician office visits and 97.9 million emergency room visits for unintentional injuries in one year. Certain accidents may be predictable—we have all heard the saying,” That is an accident waiting to happen.”
The unfortunate truth is that the vast majority of accidents are preventable. When an incident results from someone’s carelessness or negligence, the ensuing injuries may be compensable. Our skilled personal injury lawyers can help your determine if you injury is eligible to file a claim.
What Constitutes a Personal Injury Accident
Generally, the first thing that comes to mind when considering a legal personal injury claim is a motor vehicle collision. More than half of all personal injury cases are due to roadway accidents. A personal injury attorney should review and evaluate any accident that results in the need for medical care, missed time from work, property damage, pain, suffering, or emotional distress.
It is entirely possible to recover financial compensation for these losses. Often accidents happen when and where you least expect them.
Injuries can happen:
- While visiting a public building
- When shopping in a grocery store
- In the workplace
- To patients in a hospital
- To residents in a nursing home, long-term care, or assisted living facility
- On a playground
- At a daycare center
- At a hotel
- In a parking lot
- On public transportation
- In a neighbor’s living room
The scope of the injuries can be life-threatening, debilitating, or life-ending, and they can happen not only to ourselves but to our children, spouses, and elderly parents. When bad things happen, through no fault of your own, having a personal injury attorney can often be a means to pursue justice.
What Happens Next
Logic and rational thinking may go out the window following an unexpected accident or injury.
Beyond the flurry and confusion of dealing with the few moments following the incident (this is best left for another blog post), an accident victim—or those speaking for the injury victim, must determine:
- What is needed to move on
- What is possible to do or to get
- Where to get it
First and Foremost: Get What Is Needed
No matter the circumstances, accident, or injury, have a complete and thorough medical exam. In a severe accident, first responders will likely decide for you. Loss of consciousness, profuse bleeding, multiple lacerations, respiratory distress, and obvious fractures require transportation to an emergency medical facility.
If the injury victim is currently in a hospital or community living facility, the first thing needed is a safer place. The full extent of the injury is usually proportional to the severity. Some injuries are associated with permanent damage and require long-term treatment and ongoing care. These catastrophic injuries are challenging to live with and expensive to treat.
Traumatic brain injury
Recent data from the Centers For Disease Control indicate traumatic brain injuries (TBI) hospitalized almost 223,050 persons in one calendar year. That is 610 people every day.
The Mayo Clinic tells us the physical and psychological symptoms of a TBI include:
- Headache, nausea, vomiting
- Balance issues
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Blurred vision
- Confusion, disorientation, memory loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Slurred speech
- Mood changes
- Depression, anxiety, difficulty sleeping
- Convulsions, seizures
Spinal cord damage
Suffering a spinal cord injury in an accident can often leave an injury victim who uses a wheelchair for a lifetime.
Additional consequences include:
- Blood clots
- Urinary tract infections
- Loss of bladder and bowel control
- Painful muscle spasms
- Respiratory complications
Those persons with a spinal cord injury will need immediate hospital management and follow-up acute care, possibly for a lifetime: rehabilitation and assistive devices. Community integration is often complex for those inflicted with paralysis and mental health issues pre prevalent.
Severe burn injuries are common in motor vehicle accidents, electrical malfunctions, and industrial accidents. This type of injury can destroy skin tissue and damage both the muscles and the bone in the affected area. Infection is a likely consequence. Burns are extremely painful, disfiguring, and require immediate medical attention.
What Is Possible to Recover After a Personal Injury
When you have a severe injury caused in an accident because of someone’s negligent or wrongful behavior—and you have physical, emotional, and financial losses because of the injury—you have legal grounds to request financial compensation for:
- All medical expenses, both documented past bills, and projected future medical costs
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity in your chosen profession
- Property damage
- Permanent disability
- Emotional distress such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of companionship
Under certain circumstances, you may include other expenses directly caused due to the injury in a compensation settlement or court verdict.
This may include:
- Assistive equipment
- Home modifications
- The cost of necessary paid services such as home maintenance, cooking, shopping, and alternative means of transportation
Where Does the Cost of Recovery Come From
A personal injury accident knows no boundaries. Wherever there is negligence or a disregard for another’s safety, there is a possibility that someone will be held responsible for the cost of recovery.
The different types of personal injury claims include premises liability, product defects, medical negligence, malpractice, motor vehicle crashes, pedestrian and bicycle accidents. An experienced personal injury lawyer can consult with you to explain the requirements and limitations of the different causes of injury.
Property owners are obligated to maintain homes, businesses, and public areas safe and free from known hazards. Broken walkways, missing stair rails, construction debris, or worn and torn carpet are all a slip and fall accident waiting to happen.
When the property owner’s carelessness causes accidents, they are compensable for the most part.
Whether the injured person is a patron of a business, a guest in someone’s home, or even there to make a delivery or do a repair, they may file a premises liability claim against:
- Commercial property owners
- Management corporations
As consumers, we use hundreds of items in our daily life literally. We expect products manufactured according to specific industry standards, and we expect a warning label if a risk of danger comes when we use them.
When a defective product causes harm, compensation is possible—and not for the one who purchases the item, but for anyone who may use it or anyone harmed by it. This is a complex area of personal area law often associated with class-action suits.
You may file defective product injury claim against:
- Product designers
- Third-party distributors
As in law, there are no guarantees in the practice of medicine. However, when medical providers fail to serve their patients within the scope of their formal training and specialty, preventable harm can take place. A misdiagnosis, a delay in diagnosis, a failure to provide appropriate aftercare, or even an error with medications can result in a catastrophic or fatal injury.
Some restrictions and limitations may come into play, but you may seek compensation through an medical malpractice injury claim from:
- Physicians, surgeons, dentists
- Radiologists, anesthesiologists, and pharmacists
- Physician’s assistants
- Hospital administrators
Motor vehicle crashes
Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of personal injury. Car drivers can be held liable for accidents caused by reckless driving, driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, speeding, being distracted, or being too exhausted.
Commercial truck drivers must abide by federal safety standards and the rules of the road. All drivers expect manufacturers to make safe vehicles. They expect all parts of the vehicle to be in good working order. They expect roadways free of known hazardous obstacles.
Determining cause and liability in a motor vehicle accident is complicated and time-consuming. A personal injury attorney with a strong background in car and truck accidents can investigate and pursue compensation from the responsible party.
Pedestrian and bicycle accidents
Bicycle accident injuries often result in serious physical injury and catastrophic financial hardship with no real protection. Some of the injuries our bike accident clients have suffered include:
How to Get Sufficient Financial Recovery for What You Lost
An accident victim can avoid common pitfalls and stumbling blocks when seeking financial compensation for a personal injury.
Do not wait to seek medical attention, and do not ignore any physician’s recommended treatment.
When push comes to shove, and it likely will, an attorney needs to show the insurance company the full extent of the injury and the victim’s desire to participate in their recovery process.
Pictures are indeed worth a thousand words. A picture is compelling proof of physical damage. Photos of the injury may be hard to look at but are also hard to forget. When an insurance investigator or a jury member can actually see an X-ray of broken bones or a picture of an accident victim in traction, the severity of the incident can take on a whole new meaning.
Medical records and medical testimony play a huge part in the amount of financial recovery a plaintiff may receive—the more medical evidence a personal injury lawyer has to work with, the better. A “pain journal” is a means of detailing the physical pain associated with the injury and the medical procedures and treatments.
Remember, the insurance company will probably use anything you say against you. Let your attorney speak on your behalf to the defendant's insurance company. Avoid discussing your condition or details of the accident with anyone except your physicians and your lawyer. Stay away from posting on social media sites until the case settles.
The only possible value postings or photos on the web are those from before the accident. These can show the active lifestyle you and your family once enjoyed. This can be significant. When the victim is now permanently disabled, it is difficult to definitively prove certain losses, such as the loss of the ability to continue a favorite pastime. In these cases, Facebook and Instagram posts may offer tangible evidence.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) tells us that, following an accident, victims normally experience:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
These consequences often lead to a fear of going outside the home, reluctance to integrate back into society, and self-isolation. When these emotional issues hinder or change daily life, things start to spin out of control for the accident victim and the entire family and support system.
A lawyer may ask family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors to give impact statements that validate the intangible changes and losses resulting from the accident.
If you or a family member is dealing with an injury caused by another’s negligence, don’t assume the insurance company’s settlement offer is everything to which you are entitled. Get a personal injury attorney’s opinion on the actual monetary value of all of your losses (physical, financial, and emotional)—past, present, and long-term.