Answering Your Legal Questions: I’ve Been Injured, Now What?
If you’ve sustained an injury the first thing you must do is consult a physician as early as possible. It is important to document your injury to verify it caused by the accident. Delaying medical treatment could give the insurance company grounds to assert the injury was not related to the accident.
After this, you can begin to assess your claim potential. Any scenario in which you’ve sustained injury at the fault of another party is reason to start thinking about legal action. That means even if you believe you hold partial responsibility for the injury. As long as the party in question can be held accountable for a majority of the incident, you should start thinking about next steps.
This means figuring out what claim you’d like to pursue before searching for a qualified personal injury lawyer. You may make a claim against that person or business and their insurance company based on the type of accident and the cause.
Listed below are the types of accidents that can cause personal injury, and the important factors to consider when assessing which party is ultimately the most responsible:
1. Motor vehicle accidents: Fault or "negligence" is determined by traffic regulations and which driver's carelessness contributed most to the accident and injuries. This includes your own conduct such as failure to use seatbelts.
2. Commercial accidents (such as in stores): Commercial injuries claims are possible only if caused by an unsafe condition that the owner should have known of, appreciated, and had notice to correct before the accident.
3. Home/farm/apartment/recreation injuries: Renters, owners, or residents may be found liable for injuries they cause by negligent maintenance, oversight, or attacks by pets. However, property owners who permit others to use their land without charge for recreational purposes may be completely immune to any claim for unsafe conditions, however flagrant.
4. Government employees and premises: Injuries caused by negligent public employees or unsafe conditions will be compensated only in limited circumstances and are subject to stringent notice and claim requirements. State, federal, and local governments are given broad latitude to determine most matters involving public safety, including the design and maintenance of roads, parks, and facilities.
5. Workplace injuries: Injuries at work generally are covered by worker's compensation benefits which compensate for medical expenses, lost wages, and permanent impairments, without regard to fault by anyone. If the accident was caused by someone other than the employer or a co-worker, a fault-based claim can be made that could include damages for pain and suffering in addition to the worker's compensation benefits.
6. Intentional injuries: Injuries inflicted on purpose by any means are not usually covered by the guilty party's liability insurance, although the responsible party may be personally liable for such harm.
7. Other accidents: More complicated rules determine if injuries caused by dangerous products, the accumulation of ice or snow, faulty professional services, or public utilities will be compensated. In addition, users of firearms, dog owners, and operators of restaurants, hotels, and public transportation may be liable for injuries they cause because the law imposes special responsibility for these hazards which your attorney can explain in more detail.
Whether or not you are able to decide if you have a claim, there is no harm in calling a personal injury attorney to discuss your situation and get advice.