Tutorial on Filing a PI Claim
If you have been injured in Boca Raton or anywhere else in Florida, you are likely wondering how to file a claim against the people or corporations who were responsible for the accident or incident that led to your injuries. While it would be ideal if you received the compensation you were entitled to automatically, that is unfortunately not the case, and a complex (and at times, time-consuming) claims process is essential.
To get started, it is helpful to meet with a local personal injury attorney to go over a case checklist to help frame your next steps. A Boca Raton personal injury lawyer from the Grife Law Firm is standing by to provide you with a risk-free, cost-free consultation on your case. The following is an overview of the typical progression of such claims after an accident, starting from the beginning stages all the way through collecting the compensation you deserve.
Step 1: Ensure Safety and Pursue Emergency Medical Care Immediately After the Accident
After the accident, the first priority is to ensure the safety of yourself and any other people involved in the accident. When there are injuries, it is best to await emergency medical care to avoid potential complications.
If your injuries are not serious and you are able to move, it is helpful to collect as much evidence as you can at the scene of the incident or accident. Use your phone to take photos of the scene from different angles, ideally before any vehicles involved in the accident are towed or moved.
It is useful to request statements from any witnesses at the scene and ask them to remain there in order to provide statements to the police. Getting their permission to record them on your phone through a voice memo or video is also something you may want to consider, and don’t forget to ask for their contact information to follow up with them at a later date, if necessary.
Step 2: File a Written Report of the Accident or Incident
After you have experienced an injury, it is important to begin the process of claiming your damages by filing the appropriate report. For example, if you have been injured on the job, you will have reporting requirements concerning your injury that must be met with regard to how you notify your employer and pursue medical treatment from approved providers.
If you have been in a car accident, this would entail the filing of a police report to create an official record of the accident. Calling the police to the scene of the accident and requesting that they produce a report is also helpful, as this can provide information about the sobriety of other drivers in addition to potential other factors that contributed to the accident.
Other injuries may stem from premises liability cases if you are hurt on someone else’s property. For instance, filing a statement for a slip-and-fall could entail filing a claim with the insurance company of the private property owner or filing a report with the property manager of a venue where the injury occurred. Your Boca Raton personal injury attorney will help advise you on the proper steps to take to support the best outcome in your case.
Step 3: Seek Medical Attention for Follow-Up Medical Care
After filing a written report of your injuries as appropriate, the next step in your personal injury claim process is to pursue follow-up medical care. Due to the excitement and adrenaline of an accident, it is not uncommon for individuals to miss minor pain and discomfort. Injuries can also worsen in the days following an accident, so follow-up care is important to identify additional harm that may have been caused.
For example, spinal cord injuries are common in car accidents and slip-and-falls, and they can result in significant long-term injuries — some symptoms of which can take time to emerge. For example, part of spinal cord damage can be nerve damage that leads to numbness in the extremities, which limits a person’s ability to work and enjoy their life as they had before the accident or incident.
A few days following an accident, you may begin to develop soreness or other symptoms, and it is essential that these symptoms be documented to provide important evidence for your claim. During your appointment, ask your doctor what your recovery will entail and if you will require surgery or medication. To determine the extent of your injuries, ask how they might limit your ability to move and work in the future and make sure they explain in detail how long your recovery might take.
It is important to document your injuries and related symptoms, as your Boca Raton personal injury can put this information to work on your behalf to generate a settlement that completely covers your related costs, both now and in the future.
Step 4: Hire a Boca Raton Personal Injury Lawyer
After you have been through an accident, the most effective way to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve is by working with an experienced Boca Raton personal injury lawyer. Your attorney will review the information concerning the accident or incident that led to your injuries in addition to the medical opinions provided in relation to them. The value of an attorney comes in their ability to accurately and completely measure the damages to which you are entitled.
While you might worry that you cannot afford an attorney with the kind of experience it takes to win your case or claim, that is rarely the situation. Personal injury attorneys generally provide a free initial consultation to review your case, then take it on a contingency fee basis if they find it to be a fit for their firm. A contingency fee means that the attorney is only paid if they win the case and that payment comes from a portion of the earnings that they generate. The client pays nothing up-front for the consultation and nothing out-of-pocket, and the attorney only gets paid if they win.
Step 5: The Art of Accurately and Completely Measuring Your Damages
You can file your own insurance claim after being injured in an accident that was caused by someone or something else, but without a thorough understanding of how the law and the outcome of similar cases or claims apply to your injuries, it can be difficult to fully collect what you deserve. Insurance companies work for profit and aggressively try to reduce costs by reducing or denying altogether the claims that are filed by injured persons like you.
The damages that you could be entitled to for your personal injury generally include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship and in some cases, wrongful death
The unique facts and circumstances of the accident or incident that caused your injuries and their symptoms in the long term will determine the damages to which you could be entitled.
Short- and Long-Term Medical Bills and Related Expenses
All medical costs linked to your injuries should be covered in your settlement, and these need to be proven with evidence that you collect from follow-up medical assessments. For example, if you experienced a traumatic brain injury or TBI from a bump to your head and all you have is an emergency room bill, that is all you will be able to collect. However, a TBI can lead to long-term and life-altering consequences including difficulty concentrating and increased irritability.
Long-term symptoms that can impact an injured person’s ability to work and enjoy personal relationships the same as before the injury can entitle them to substantial damages. Lost earnings ability and a decrease in the quality of life due to an injury are forms of damages that are compensated in your personal injury claim.
Lost Wages, Work Benefits, and Earnings Ability
Lost income during one’s recovery as well as work benefits are included in your personal injury compensation. When your injuries result in a change in your ability to work and earn the same as prior to your injury, you could be entitled to compensation from the time of your injury through the remainder of your working life.
Pain and Suffering
In certain accidents and incidents, damages are available for pain and suffering that is experienced both during the accident or incident and after recovery. Some injuries may require ongoing pain management, which can change an individual’s quality of life, and this is something your Boca Raton personal injury attorney will argue on your behalf should they deem it necessary.
Loss of Companionship or Consortium and Prospective Wrongful Death
When an individual is no longer able to contribute the same value to the lives of their loved ones, damages are generally available. This is the case when a member of a household is no longer able to contribute to performing chores in the home or give quality time to the family or if a member of a household dies due to a tragic accident or incident.
If you have lost a loved one to an accident, you may have a right to compensation through a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death claim seeks to provide compensation for the loss of the value of your loved one’s financial and emotional contributions to your household.
Step 6: Negotiating a Settlement
Once you have collected evidence, hired an attorney, and drafted a claim, it is time to seek compensation. This starts, in some cases, by attempting to negotiate a settlement before filing a lawsuit. After an accident, you might be offered a quick settlement that includes a release, which means that the payment you receive is it and the liable party is released from any further damages. This can leave you and your family footing the costs out of your household budget in the future.
The amount that your personal injury claim is worth will depend largely on the evidence and how much the medical and occupational costs linked to your injury will be.
Step 7: The Filing of a Lawsuit if Settlement Negotiations Fail or Don’t Fit Your Case
When a complete and fair settlement cannot be reached outside of court, your personal injury lawyer may need to file a lawsuit against the party responsible for your injuries, which will often be an insurance company. If you are in a car accident, it will be the insurance company of the driver that caused it. If you were injured due to a defective product, generally the insurance company of the manufacturer or the retailer of the product will be liable.
For a lawsuit to be valid, all defendants must be served with the complaint and the summons, which includes the amount of time the defendant will have to answer. The lawsuit must be filed within Florida Statute 95.11’s statute of limitations, which currently provides for a 4-year expiration date to file a lawsuit for personal injury based on negligence.
Step 8: Pretrial and Trial Participation
Once your lawsuit has been filed, it may be necessary to attend pretrial meetings like depositions to collect information. Some courts may require an attempt at mediation prior to trial. Once your case makes it to court, it is possible that you are called to testify. While in court, stating that you do not remember or do not know the answer to questions is entirely acceptable. Expert witnesses may also be used to support your case or they may be used by the defendant to challenge your claim.
Working with a local Boca Raton personal injury lawyer provides you with support, advocacy and representation in court should it come to that.
Connect with a Boca Raton Personal Injury Lawyer from The Grife Law Firm
The process of collecting the complete damages that you deserve for your personal injury can be complex and requires experience and effective negotiation to collect everything to which you are entitled. To learn how The Grife Law Firm can help with your personal injury, give us a call at 561-998-0770, or visit our site to schedule a consultation.