No one sets out to cause or be involved in a car accident. However, it can happen in the blink of an eye, and its consequences could be life-altering. Navigating the legal process for a personal injury lawsuit after an accident can be bewildering and overwhelming. People who attempt to go it alone are seldom successful as it turns into a David against Goliath battle.
Here is what to do after a car accident and the steps toward filing a lawsuit:
At the scene
According to a Kansas City personal injury lawyer from the Devkota Law Firm, documenting everything after an accident occurs is vital for a successful personal injury claim. As an accident victim, you need evidence that the other driver was at fault, as your lawsuit against their insurance company hinges on this being true.
We live in a digital age. Use this to your advantage by taking photographs of the accident scene. Get the other driver’s details and note contact information for any witnesses. If you cannot do these things yourself due to injury, ask a passenger or bystander for help. Law enforcement must attend to an accident scene as you need a police report to file a claim.
Another factor that personal injury lawyers emphasize is seeking medical attention without delay. Visit an ER for a thorough checkup after an accident. You need a paper trail of medical records, diagnoses, and treatments for a successful lawsuit.
The legal onus is on a plaintiff to prove that the accident caused their injuries. If you only visited a doctor a week after the accident, the defendant might insist there is a reasonable chance that you sustained your injuries some other way.
Ask any medical practitioners you consult for copies of their records to keep as a reference. Additionally, track all medical expenses you incur due to the accident as they must be presented in court.
Hire a lawyer
Most people who think that they can handle a personal injury claim alone soon find out that it is not as straightforward as they might have hoped. It is a complex and often convoluted process that a simple mistake could derail. Someone famously said that a lawyer who hires themselves has a fool for a client. Therefore, without any legal training of your own, your odds of success diminish.
Find a personal injury lawyer with an established reputation. These attorneys know the ins and outs of the system, what paperwork to file, and how to negotiate a fair settlement. Their professional knowledge and attention to detail will ensure that you get the best possible representation.
Prepare for negotiations
Once you have consulted an attorney and handed them the necessary documentation, they file a lawsuit against the insurance company. These companies have teams of lawyers representing them and will respond to any lawsuits.
Few personal injury claims make it to a courtroom because most are settled beforehand. Your attorney will enter negotiations with the insurance company’s legal team and seek common ground and a settlement fair to all parties. Your lawyer cannot accept any offers on your behalf without your express permission.
Going to court
Civil cases, such as personal injury claims, are heard by a judge and jury. The plaintiff and defendant each present their case and call witnesses. After that, a jury deliberates until they determine a verdict.
A disadvantage of going to court is that these cases can take months or years to resolve. Most attorneys advocate for a negotiated deal or opting for alternative dispute resolution mechanisms like arbitration or mediation. Cases are dealt with expediently, and your legal bill will be significantly lower.