How To Start A Personal Injury Claim

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Other than “how much is my case worth,” one of the biggest questions people have after an accident is, “what do I do now?” It can be very difficult to know where to start when you’re filing a personal injury claim if you’ve never done it before.

This article will help you file a claim by detailing what to do after an accident and what to expect in the days to come.

When to Start Preparing Your Personal Injury Claim

Personal injury cases in Louisiana have a 1-year statute of limitations. That means you have one year from the accident or injury to file your claim.  If you’ve been injured in an accident, your best course of action is to start your claim right away.

Prepping your personal injury claim starts at the scene of the accident. Whether you were injured in a car crash, slip and fall, or a workplace accident, these tips will help build a successful personal injury claim:

  • Whether you think your injuries are severe or not, seek medical attention immediately. Medical documents are crucial to demonstrating the seriousness of the accident.
  • If the accident occurred on the road or in a public place, call the police to have an officer file a report. If the accident happened at work, notify your supervisor right away.
  • Take pictures of the accident. Include any property damage, your injuries, and the injuries of anyone else involved.
  • Journal about the accident. Write down what happened, the time of day it was,  and what the weather was like. Include names and contact information for everyone involved. Continue this journal throughout the personal injury claim process.
  • Talk to witnesses and gather their contact information.
  • Keep the receipts from your medical bills, tow truck fees, prescription costs, etc.
  • Contact a Louisiana personal injury lawyer. They will help preserve your rights and begin the claims process.

Information to Bring to Your Initial Consultation

When you talk to a personal injury attorney, they will ask you to come in for an initial consultation. During this meeting, give your lawyer detailed information on the accident, your injuries, and the damages you’re seeking.

Your attorney can put your claim together faster if you give them the following information during your consultation:

  • Records and receipts of your medical bills and expenses. This should include your initial treatment, follow up treatment, medications, doctor’s instructions, and medical equipment.
  • The contact information for every medical practitioner and facility that treated you. Be sure to include doctors, nurses, ambulance personnel, chiropractors, massage therapists, etc.
  • Detailed information about income you lost as a result of not being able to work.
  • Any information you received from your insurance provider or the insurance provider of the at-fault party.
  • The journal you started when the accident occurred can be helpful. Your journal should contain your pain level (on a scale of 1-10) and how  your injuries have affected your day-to-day life.
  • Copies of the police report or work injury report, if applicable.
  • A calendar with dates relating to your case, including the day you were injured, surgery dates, treatment dates, therapy dates, etc.
  • All the photographs you took of the accident and your injuries.

Preparing for Settlement or Trial

Most personal injury cases are settled out of court. This is the easiest option, as it saves all of the involved parties time and money.

To facilitate a fair settlement, your attorney will review the information you gave them and put together a settlement package or brochure to send to the entities you’re filing a claim against.

This process may last from several weeks to several months. So it is essential to give your lawyer as much information as possible.

The packet will include detailed information about your case, including a description of your injuries and how they affect your life.

It will also contain a demand for compensation, based on an evaluation of the details of your case. Your lawyer will send it to an insurance adjuster should respond with a settlement offer.

Once you receive an offer, you and your attorney can discuss whether it is enough to cover your damages. If it isn’t, you may enter a negotiation stage to come to an agreement on financial compensation. The case will go to a trial if the two parties don’t reach an agreement.

Giving Your Deposition

Whether you plan to settle out of court or go to trial, it’s likely you will give a deposition. A deposition is were the other party’s legal counsel asks you a range of questions. The interview is usually in an attorney’s office or conference room and recorded by a court reporter.

Many people are intimidated by giving a recorded statement in front of the opposition. While this process can be stressful, as long as you maintain composure and don’t lie, everything should go smoothly. Here are some additional tips to remember before going into your deposition:

  • Dress nicely in order to make a good impression.
  • Speak clearly and loudly so the court reporter can hear and record your answers.
  • Take it seriously. This is not a time for joking or making small talk. Listen carefully and answer the questions you are asked in a professional manner.
  • If you don’t know the answer, say so. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t remember or don’t know something if you really don’t.
  • Short and sweet. Answer yes or no questions accordingly. Don’t give any information you don’t have to.
  • Describe you pain. You will be asked to describe your pain and injuries. Rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10 and describe it accurately without exaggerating.
  • Don’t lie. They may ask the same question several times. The opposing side is trying to catch you in a lie. Tell the truth the first time and stick to your original answer if asked the same question again.

If you’re still concerned about the deposition, don’t worry. You and your attorney will review the details of your case so your memory is fresh. They will also advise you as to the type of questions you may be asked. Common deposition questions include:

  • What injuries or illnesses have you suffered during your life?
  • Do you have a criminal record? If so, for what?
  • Have you been in past lawsuits?
  • What is your employment history?
  • Where have you lived during your life?
  • Where you were and what you were doing when the injury occurred?
  • Was anyone with you or were there any witnesses?
  • Have you filed insurance claims for this accident?
  • Is this a new injury or has an old injury been exacerbated by this accident?
  • How have your injuries/this accident impacted your life?
  • Did you seek medical treatment following your injury? If so, where?
  • Have you followed your doctor’s post-injury instructions?
  • What have you been doing since you’ve been injured?

Again, your deposition is an opportunity for the opposing party’s attorney to confuse you, catch you off guard, or catch you lying. They may test your memory by asking you questions that seem unrelated to your case. Remember, do your best to stay cool, calm, and collected. If you know the answer tell the truth and if you don’t simply say, “I don’t know.”

Contact Cox, Cox, Filo, Camel & Wilson

Accidents are stressful and time consuming. They disrupt your life, your health, and your ability to work. If you’ve been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, don’t hesitate to contact the attorneys at Cox, Cox, Filo, Camel & Wilson L.L.C. We can help give you the peace of mind and composure you need to begin your personal injury case. Call us at 337-436-6611 to schedule a free consultation.

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