When someone is hurt because of another person’s actions or negligence, it’s called a personal injury. It’s not just about physical pain; sometimes it’s about emotional hurt too.
Imagine if someone’s careless driving caused a car accident, and you got hurt because of it. In situations like this, you have a right to ask for help or compensation for your injuries. That’s what we call a personal injury claim.
Just like in school, where you should know your rights and responsibilities, it’s equally important to understand your rights in these cases.
The basics of personal injury claims
A personal injury is when someone gets hurt, either on their body or in their feelings, because of what someone else did or didn’t do.
Let’s make this simpler: Imagine you’re walking in a park, and someone left a toy on the path. If you trip over that toy and hurt your ankle, that’s a personal injury caused by someone else’s carelessness.
In 2019, over 4.4 million people in the U.S. were seriously injured in car accidents alone, highlighting the frequent need for personal injury claims.
There are many ways people can get these injuries. For instance, car accidents are a common reason. If someone is driving too fast and hits another person, the person who got hit might have a personal injury.
Another example is when someone slips and falls because a store didn’t clean up a spill. Or, imagine going to a doctor, expecting to get better, but instead, something goes wrong because of a mistake the doctor made. That’s called medical malpractice.
It’s essential to know about these situations because if they ever happen to you, you should be aware of what steps to take next.
Knowing your rights
- There are some rights you need to be aware of when you suffer a personal injury. You are entitled to speak with a personal injury lawyer or attorney first. This means that if someone else injured you, a lawyer can advise you on your next course of action and how to manage the circumstance.
- You should visit a doctor or a hospital if you are harmed. This is crucial for your health, but it also establishes a record, a sort of proof, that you were hurt. If you have to explain what happened to someone else, this record may be useful.
- If someone else’s error caused you injury, you need to be fairly paid or assisted.
Steps to protect your rights
1. Immediate actions post-injury
- When you’re hurt because of someone else, there are things you should do right away. First, get medical help. This not only ensures you’re taken care of, but doctors and hospitals also create records that can be used later to show you were indeed injured.
- Next, make sure you capture what happened. This means taking photos of where and how you got hurt, and writing down names and contact details of anyone who saw what happened. This can be crucial because sometimes, memories can fade.
- If what happened is serious, like a car crash or an injury at a big store, you should inform the police or the people in charge of that place. This creates an official record of the incident.
- And remember, even if you think you might have been partly responsible, don’t say it aloud. It’s important not to admit any fault before you have all the facts.
2. Seeking legal counsel
- If someone else’s mistake hurts you, it’s a good idea to talk to a lawyer. A personal injury lawyer who specialises in personal injuries will know exactly how to help. They’re trained to understand the complicated rules and to make sure you’re treated fairly.
- Knowing the right time to hire a lawyer is crucial. If you wait too long, some important details might get lost, or you might miss certain deadlines.
3. Communication with relevant parties
- Sometimes, insurance companies might reach out to you after the incident. It’s a good idea to talk to your lawyer before talking to them. This ensures that you don’t say something that might hurt your case later.
- Always keep a record of who you spoke to, what was said, and when it was said. This can be very helpful later on.
4. Understanding the value of your claim
- If you’re hurt, you might have medical bills to pay. Maybe you couldn’t go to school or work and lost money. There’s also the pain and trouble you went through. All of these are things you deserve help with. So, understand fully what you should ask for before agreeing to any offers.
- Keep track of your injuries and recovery. This might mean writing down how you feel each day or noting when you visit the doctor.
- If there’s anything physical tied to the injury, like broken glasses from a car crash, keep them safe. These can act as evidence.
- And always remember the importance of witnesses. If someone saw what happened, their account can be very valuable. So, keep their contact details and any statements they give.
- Taking these steps can be the difference between getting the help and compensation you deserve and missing out. Always prioritize your health and rights
Common mistakes to avoid
- Not seeking medical help. Always consult a doctor if injured, even if it seems minor. It ensures proper care and records the injury.
- Giving recorded statements without a lawyer. Don’t provide statements, especially to insurance companies, without your attorney present. Your words could be misconstrued later.
- Quickly accepting the first settlement offer. It’s tempting, but the initial offer might not cover all your expenses and needs. Always consult your lawyer before accepting.
- Missing deadlines. There’s a time limit, called the “statute of limitations”, to file a claim. Being unaware and missing these can cost you your claim. Always be aware of the deadlines.
The importance of being proactive in your claim
When something important is happening, it’s always best to be actively involved and not just wait for things to happen. This is especially true for personal injury claims.
Here’s why being proactive can make a huge difference:
- Keeping in touch with your lawyer. Regularly speaking with your attorney means you’re always informed. It helps in making sure that your case is on the right track.
- Staying involved. It’s your claim, so you should know what’s happening. This means giving all the necessary papers on time and following any advice given. By being active in the process, you’re helping to move things along more smoothly.
- Asking questions. Do not be timid. Ask questions if there is anything you are unclear about. It’s crucial to be aware of every stage and detail. You can make decisions and know what’s happening in this manner.
By being proactive, you not only speed up your claim but also ensure you’re doing everything to get the best possible outcome. Remember, it’s your right to be helped, and taking an active role helps protect that right.
- What is a personal injury claim? It’s a legal case you can start if someone else’s actions or negligence causes you harm.
- Do I always need a lawyer for a personal injury claim? While not mandatory, a lawyer can guide you through complex legal procedures and advocate for your best interests.
- How long do I have to file a personal injury claim? Time limits, called “statute of limitations”, vary by case type and location, so it’s best to consult with a lawyer promptly.
- What if I’m partly at fault for my injury? Even if you share some blame, you might still be eligible for compensation, but it may affect the claim amount.
- Can I still claim if my injuries seemed minor initially? Yes, some injuries manifest or worsen over time, so it’s important to seek medical attention and legal advice regardless of initial severity.
Personal injuries can be tough, both physically and emotionally. It’s essential to remember the importance of standing up for your rights during these challenging times.
By understanding the basics of injury claims, knowing your rights, being active in the claim process, and avoiding common mistakes, you give yourself the best chance of a fair outcome. It’s not just about compensation; it’s about ensuring you’re treated justly and with respect.
If you ever find yourself in such a situation, always be vigilant and proactive. This not only helps protect you but also ensures you’re taking the right steps toward healing and recovery.
Ellen Diamond, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.