General Overview Of Your Personal Injury Case
It is important that your personal injury is properly evaluated. An experienced law firm will aggressively investigate your case to ensure the maximum compensation possible. It may also be necessary, in some cases, to hire a special investigator to interview and obtain statements from any witnesses that may exist. An investigation should be conducted in order to obtain photographs and to assemble all the information that is available as to how the accident occurred and who is responsible. Photos of the accident scene and your injuries before the cuts and bruises have had a chance to disappear and heal may be taken.
It is important that you not discuss the details of your accident or your injuries with people who are not entitled to such information. Any questions from the person responsible for your injuries or their representatives, including their insurance company, should be referred to an attorney.
If an insurance company representative contacts you, do not make any statements. You should immediately seek representation from a competent personal injury law firm. Again, do not make statements to the insurance company or any other person. If you have already made statements to anyone else advise your attorney of the statements so that your attorney can obtain a copy of them.
INFORMATION REGARDING YOUR MEDICAL TREATMENT
You are entitled to the best medical care available to cure or to minimize the effects of your injury. It is essential that you obtain copies of bills and receipts for all medical expenditures you have made. Your financial loss is sometimes less important that the effects of the injury. Your attorney needs your assistance in evaluating the effects of the accident on your life. During the course of your personal injury matter your attorney may take testimony from all witnesses and doctors who may be involved in the case. In addition, one of the jobs of your attorney is to accumulate all of your medical records and expenses.
You should continue to go to a doctor as long as you continue to suffer from your injuries. You should cooperate with your doctor in every way, and relate to him or her truthfully and fully all symptoms that you have that were a result of the accident. Answer completely all questions that he or she asks. Medical treatment often takes time to produce results. You cannot expect a doctor to give effective testimony about your conditions at time of trial if several months have elapsed since he or she last examined you. Also, insurance companies will often treat this failure to obtain medical treatment as evidence that there was no injury or that you are exaggerating. Naturally, you should never fake or exaggerate anything, but as long as there is something legitimately wrong with you, in order to help the doctors make their diagnosis and avoid a distortion of your medical picture by the insurance company, you should continue to obtain the medical care you need.
One of the most significant factors affecting the value of your lawsuit is whether or not it can be established by competent testimony that you have suffered a permanent injury because of the accident. Doctors know from experience that the full extent of a persons injuries is usually not known until several months after the accident. It is important for you to advise your attorney of your medical progress, including when your doctor refers you for physical therapy or to another doctor. Your attorney can then obtain complete copies of all your records, which is of utmost importance in documenting your case.
THE VALUE OF YOUR CASE
Some insurance companies in cases where the liability or fault is clear relate the value of the case to the special damages. This is often unrealistic because the major factors, including the physical pain and suffering and the loss of your capacity to lead a normal life, may have a greater impact on the value of your case than do the special damages.
After your attorney has assembled all the information, they will make the best estimate of the smallest jury verdict possible, and estimate of the largest verdict possible, and the probable verdict. This figure is based on your attorney’s experience and research regarding jury verdicts for similar cases in your area. Thus, it is important that you seek the services of a competent California Personal Injury Attorney. The Sierra Law Center is very qualified to handle your personal injury case.
FILING THE LAWSUIT
In some jurisdictions you are permitted to file a lawsuit only if you have met the threshold requirements, and within two years from the date of the accident. This time period is provided for by law and once that time period has elapsed, you are forever barred from pursuing your claim. If a lawsuit is filed, you are the plaintiff. A complaint is filed on your behalf that states the reasons why you believe you have a cause of action against the defendant, and it sets forth the claims you are making. The defendant has a limited time after they are served with the summons and complaint to respond or answer the claims. Often the defendant will claim that you contributed to your own injuries.
If the party or their insurance company refers the complaint to legal counsel the attorney for the defendant will send written questions known as interrogatories, which must be answered under oath in writing. The attorney for the defendant may also take your deposition. A deposition consists of oral questions given to you under oath in an informal setting. Your attorney will be present with you during the deposition and will defend, to the extent possible by law, against any improper questioning from the defendant’s attorney.
There are certain items of damages that you are entitled to recover in most lawsuits. These include:
- 1. past pain and suffering;
2. future pain and suffering;
3. loss of income;
4. future loss of income and loss of earning capacity;
5. out of pocket expenses, such as doctor bills or other medical bills and property damage that has not been reimbursed to you; and,
6. loss of consortium on behalf of the non-injured spouse. That is the loss of services of an injured spouse in all ways that the spouse renders service to his or her mate including housekeeping, lawn mowing, maintenance, cooking, companionship and sexual relations.
The following is a list of important things that you can do to help your attorney in representing your interests. This list is designed to help prepare your case for both settlement and trial, if necessary. You should keep your attorney informed of any changes that may occur. Items of information that can assist your attorney in preparing your case are as follows:
- 1. A diary of your activities with emphasis on restriction of the activities caused by your injuries, specific pains and the frequency of them, the frequency of medications taken, and the kind of medication;
2. Keep any physical objects such as shoes or clothing that you had on at the time of the accident. It may be necessary to use them as evidence at trial;
3. Itemized receipts of a) hospital bills; b) doctor bills; c) ambulance bills; d) nursing bills; e) drug bills; and f) all other expenses you incurred as a result of the accident including, travel to and from the doctors office and any time you have missed from work as a result of these office appointments, and additional help around the home or business that you have required (including babysitters or domestic or yard help).
4. The names of neighbors, friends, employees or relatives who knew of your activities both before and after the accident.