The truth is; after a car accident, the last thing you want to do is focus on all the details in a long, drawn-out court case. You already have enough on your mind without having to worry about keeping track of insurance companies, doctors’ visits, and lost time at work. It’s just too much to handle! That’s precisely why so many people who experience injuries in car accidents contact a personal injury law firm.
With that in mind, below we have explained the 11 most important things everyone should know about personal injury lawsuits. Even if you decide not to work with a personal injury lawyer, we hope you keep these tips in mind. Following these 11 rules could make a huge difference in the outcome of your case.
1 – You Have a Limited Time to File a Lawsuit
The statute of limitations exists in every U.S. state to limit the period of time a victim or the state has to bring legal action against a defendant. The time limit varies from state to state, and varies based on the alleged crime committed.
Florida Statute § 95.11(3)(a) sets the personal injury statute of limitations at four years from the date the accident occurred.
Tennessee Code TN Code § 28-3-104 (2015) sets the personal injury statute of limitations at one year from the date the accident occurred.
Be sure to follow the letter of the law and file your personal injury lawsuit sooner rather than later. Once that time is elapsed, you will likely have no recourse and no ability to file a lawsuit.
2 – The Sooner You Call A Lawyer the Better
Talking too much to insurance companies or some members of law enforcement can change the outcome of your case. Even if you are the victim, you could misspeak and decrease the chances of receiving the settlement you deserve. This happens more often than you may think!
Our advice is to call a lawyer and get legal counsel as soon as possible. Don’t sign anything or agree to any recorded conversations with any third parties until you have discussed it with your personal injury lawyer.
3 – Seek Medical Attention As Soon As You Can
You don’t have to wait until you have spoken to a lawyer to get medical attention, you can go out and seek medical attention as soon as possible. You may need to seek out medical attention before any of your physical injuries get any worse.
In many cases, you will be reimbursed for all medical costs by the negligent driver’s insurance company. Be sure to keep all documentation and every single receipt. The most important thing is to focus on your health. Personal property can be replaced, but your health must be attended to immediately.
4 – Look for Personal Injury Lawyers Who Offer A “No Fee Guarantee”
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis which means you only pay if you win your case. The lawyer’s fee will be paid directly from your settlement amount. You pay nothing out of pocket. These contingency personal injury law firms are quite common and you can find them with a simple search online. Ask the firm if they work on a contingency basis.
In these cases, the law firm will determine if your case has a chance of success.
5 – Statistically, Those Who Hire Lawyers Are Awarded Larger Settlements
Studies have shown that, in general, those who hire personal injury lawyers receive larger settlements. The studies suggest that victims who hire an attorney will receive a settlement that is typically 3.5X larger than those who do not.
Additionally, roughly 85% of settlements that insurance companies send out, are to victims who have hired a personal injury attorney.
6 – Pain & Suffering Covers a Broad Spectrum of Things
This is not just about the car, or about your medical bills. Pain and suffering includes mental distress suffered as a result of the accident as well as other life-altering changes that resulted from the accident. Pain and suffering is determined by the following formula: “Pain and suffering is usually calculated using the total medical bills multiplied by the severity of subjective distress which is decided on a scale of 1 to 5.”
Personal injury lawsuit settlement amounts can and will vary. Though most personal injury cases follow a somewhat defined formula, each individual case is unique. There is no way to know how much you should sue for personal injury, but your personal injury attorney can help you navigate those questions.
7 – You Have to Follow Instructions Carefully
Follow instructions from your doctor and your lawyer. All medical advice, rehabilitation exercises and, restrictions must be adhered to while the case is ongoing.
Additionally, be sure to follow all medical advice after the case over. You cannot ask for more money for further injuries after a case has already been settled. So follow your doctor’s advice and heal up correctly.
Always check with your lawyer before signing anything related to the case and be sure to follow your lawyer’s advice and guidance carefully as well.
8 – Keep All Your Documentation
You will receive lots of physical documents and receipts as well as lots of emails and electronic documents. It’s important that you keep track of them all.
This can be tough, especially over prolonged periods of time. Trying to locate a receipt 6 months later can be very difficult if you do not create a reliable filing system.
- Physical Documents & Receipts: head down to your local stationery store, or shop online for a file folder that you can use exclusively for keeping physicals documents. Get in the habit of placing all documents in this folder as soon as you get home. Keep it in a safe place!
- Electronic Documents & Emails: Create a virtual file folder in your email account (all email accounts have this option!). Create a file labeled “lawsuit” and be sure to drag and drop/move all your emails and electronic confirmations into that folder for easy access later.
It takes you two minutes to ensure that all files are stored correctly when you receive them, and this habit will save you hours and possible headaches in the future when you can access all those documents at the drop of a hat.
9 – You Have to Represent the Issues Correctly
Avoid social media and posting photos or updates that downplay your injury. It will be held against you. Avoid minimizing your issues. If you are in pain, you must speak up. You should not feel ashamed of getting the compensation that you deserve.
It’s important to remember that pain and suffering is considered when determining the settlement amount you may be awarded.
To determine how much you should get for pain and suffering, courts will rate your distress on a scale from 1 – 5. Therefore, if you minimize your rating, you will be entitled to less. Do not let your shame prevent you from collecting a settlement that is rightfully yours.
10 – Personal Injury Cases Can Take Time to Settle
When clients ask how personal injury settlements are paid out, we can tell them that most cases are settled out of court. Though, both our Tampa personal injury attorneys, our West Palm Beach personal injury attorneys and our Nashville personal injuries attorneys are not afraid to take a case to court to get the full amount if we know we can get what our client deserves. And that’s the difference between Steinger, Greene & Fiener as compared to our personal injury attorneys.
Personal injury settlement checks arrive anywhere from four to six weeks after the case is settled. Though this is the average. Speak with your attorney to understand exactly how long it will take to receive your check.
11 – Stay Motivated
Keep a positive attitude and stay motivated throughout the lawsuit process and trial if you reach that stage. Remember to focus on your health and above follow the instructions of your lawyer and doctor.
Reach out to friends and family and be sure to keep your employer in the loop if you feel comfortable sharing or if you have been told to by your lawyer or doctor. The trick is to stay the course and believe in your legal representation.
If you or someone you love has suffered a workplace injury, a slip and fall injury or a car accident injury, reach out to an attorney who can guide you through this process and make you whole again.
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