The First Steps to Take After a Personal Injury
You and your family are going through a difficult time. Through personal and professional experience, we understand what you are going through. The following includes some preliminary information you should consider from the outset.
1. Take Care of Your Health
This goes without saying, but the most important thing for you to do is to immediately seek appropriate medical attention. If you do not have health insurance or if obtaining necessary care is cost-prohibitive for you, please contact us. Certain people and organizations are willing to provide you with medical attention on a lien basis.
2. Cooperate with the Authorities
If you are involved in an accident and injured, be sure to immediately contact 911 or the appropriate authorities. Depending on the type of incident you or your loved ones are involved in, you will need to contact several different government agencies, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the California Department of Social Services, the California Department of Public Health, and others. Contact us immediately if you have questions relating to your particular case so we can better direct you.
It is important for the authorities or paramedics to provide you with care, obtain information from witnesses, and determine who caused the harm. If you are able, take pictures of the accident scene, your injuries, and the property damage.
3. Be Wary of Calls from Insurance Adjusters
Within hours of your accident, you will likely receive a phone call from an insurance adjuster. Often, both your insurance company’s adjuster and that of the defendant will call you. Be wary of these calls. More often than not, the insurance companies are trying to contact you before you have the opportunity to retain counsel. They often promise the moon and then try to coax you into repeating their statements, which may have the effect of changing the legal significance of the facts you relayed to the authorities or minimizing the accident and your injuries. Despite what the adjusters tell you, you are not obligated to speak with them or provide a recorded statement. Because of these and other issues, it is best to retain a lawyer prior to engaging in any substantive dialogue with insurance companies regarding your injuries.
4. Retain Our Services
Once retained, The Kindley Firm, APC, handles most personal injury cases in the following manner:
A. The Information-Gathering Phase
The Kindley Firm, APC, will investigate all aspects of your accident, along with the nature and extent of your injuries. Usually, witness statements are taken while reports, records, and bills are obtained. This early phase is critical to the success of your case. The facts are the driving force of your case. With the passing of time, witnesses may move or forget the details of the event.
B. The Negotiation Phase
Negotiations begin as soon as the client has concluded medical treatment or reached maximum medical improvement. The Kindley Firm, APC, will present your claim to the insurance company and/or negligent party in the form of a comprehensive demand package, which will: (i) explain the details of your case; (ii) explain why the other party is at fault; and (iii) provide a detailed medical explanation of your injuries and how they have affected your physical and emotional wellbeing. This will also provide evidence of your special damages, including your medical bills, out-of-pocket costs, and wage-loss information.
The formal demand package will then be reviewed by the wrongdoing party and/or his or her insurance company’s claims adjuster; they will typically provide a response in the form of an acceptance of the demand, a counter offer, or a rejection of the offer. Once a settlement offer is made, we will communicate the offer to you. After we have discussed the offer with you, it will be up to you to instruct us to either accept or reject it on your behalf. Depending on the circumstances, the Kindley Firm, APC, will recommend either an acceptance or rejection of the offer. However, the client always has the final say in choosing to accept or reject any settlement offer.
C. The Litigation Phase
If settlement negotiations fail, litigation or arbitration begins. Just because litigation or arbitration is initiated does not mean your case will not resolve short of trial. If the insurance company makes a reasonable settlement offer, your case could settle at any time during the proceedings. More often than not, the parties will attend formal mediation, where the case could resolve. While very few personal injury claims actually go to trial or arbitration (more than 90 percent are settled), The Kindley Firm, APC, will prepare your case to go to trial or arbitration from the very beginning.
Other Information and Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Time Do I Have to Decide Whether to File a Lawsuit?
This depends on the statute of limitations that applies to your particular injury. The statute of limitations restricts the amount of time in which a lawsuit can be filed for a personal injury or wrongful death. These statutes vary by state and by cause of action.
Because the general rules and the exceptions can be difficult to understand, don’t try to guess whether you still have time to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. Contact The Kindley Firm, APC, immediately to learn more about whether you still have a viable case.
Is There a Chance My Case Will Settle Without Going to Trial?
Yes. In fact, over 90 percent of all cases ever filed in the state of California are settled without going to trial. However, to best serve our clients, The Kindley Firm, APC, treats each and every case like it will go to trial, making sure to obtain all the necessary information and evidence that would be used in court. More often than not, we can use this information to convince the at-fault party or insurance company that it would be in his or her best interest to pay an appropriate settlement for your injuries without going to trial.