The Beginning To Any Personal Injury Claim- Injury And Treating The Injury
A personal injury claim begins with an unfortunate occurrence. This can be a car accident, a fall on another’s property, a criminal act or a defective product. Though the exact cause of the injury will determine a large amount about the ensuing lawsuit, the main components of all personal injury claims are the same. And the starting point of every personal injury claim is the injury.
A personal injury can arise from a number of occurrences. Among the most common are automobile collisions, truck and bus crashes, defective products, and falls on the property of another—whether a private residence or a place of business open to the public. Each of these offending situations results in a specific claim, which will be different and require different types of proof. However, some general practices are helpful in most situations.
Immediately after an accident, the greatest amount of evidence is available. In the last decade, phones capable of video recording have become commonplace. Additionally, the quality of such recording technology has dramatically improved. Video evidence of the aftermath of a crash, the remains of a product, or condition of area in which a fall occurred can be extremely helpful for a plaintiff. Witnesses may be willing to make statements about what happened or what they saw. A party can quickly collect and store contact information for any witnesses using their cell phone, or even video a quick interview on the spot.
It is important to take these steps even though they may not seem necessary. For example, the other driver may claim full responsibility or no injury may be apparent. Steps should still be taken to collect basic evidence about the scene of the accident and contact information from the other party and witnesses. It is difficult, if not impossible, to know how a claim will play out based upon the actions of the other party. Though they acknowledge fault at the scene, they may say something different to the responding officer or completely deny making such statements later. Therefore, it is imperative that a party prepares for the worst—in the form of contested litigation—by collecting this basic information.
Even if the accident has already occurred, it is still a good idea to collect as much of this information as possible. Though time has passed, the details of the occurrence will only become less clear as more time passes. Therefore, writing down all the details will help to ensure the information is not forgotten. Additionally, pictures of the area will be closer to the condition they were at the time of the accident the quicker they are taken. Finally, tracking down witnesses will be easier the closer to the time of the occurrence as well. Their memories will operate on the same time-based limitations, so gathering a written account may be the best way to ensure the highest level of accuracy.
The most important and pressing concern after the occurrence should not be gathering evidence, but instead should be seeking medical treatment. The injuries suffered may be obvious and require emergency medical treatment, such as broken bones or burns. However, the accident will likely cause a rush of adrenaline for both parties. This can often mask painful conditions, particularly from muscle strains or damage to discs in the spine. These conditions will likely surface in the hours or days following the accident.
It is important to understand the extent of the injuries and seek all necessary treatment. It is difficult to make all doctor’s appointments and physical therapy sessions, particularly when income may have been reduced due to time off for immediate medical recovery. However, it is very important to complete all treatment as faithfully as possible. Evidence that an injured party failed to follow medical instructions can be used to reduce the amount a jury awards, meaning the party’s medical bills may be greater than the compensation awarded. It is also important to discuss what long-term effects will result from the injury with treating doctors. Included in this discussion should be the need, even if only a possibility, of future medical treatment to address these issues.
A claim is “born” when all the elements that are required are met. The last element is generally “injury” suffered by the plaintiff. This comes in both the form of economic loss, such as medical expenses and lost income, and non-economic loss, such as emotional distress and pain suffered. The Kansas Supreme Court determined in Roe v. Diefendorf that the claim is complete upon discovering that the injury occurred, not finding the extent of the injury. Thus, even though treatment may continue for several months or even years, the claim is “complete” as soon as an injury occurs. This is the point at which legal counsel should be contacted, as this starts the first—and perhaps most important—clock ticking on the claim: the statute of limitations.
Each cause of actions has a prescribed time period in which it may be brought, known as a statute of limitations. Different causes of action may impose different statutes of limitations, so the type of personal injury claim must be identified to determine a claim’s must-file-by date. Most personal injury claims must be brought very quickly after the accident. For example, a negligence action must be brought within two years of the occurrence, as outlined in Section 60-513 of the Kansas Statutes. If a no claim is filed before the statute of limitations runs, the claim is forever lost. This means even though a plaintiff suffers an injury because of the negligence of another, he or she cannot be compensated for the loss.
This early stage of a claim is one of the most difficult to correctly navigate. If a plaintiff settles too early, she may not know the true extent of her injuries or treatment. This means the amount of the settlement will likely not cover the expenses the plaintiff ultimately incurs. As discussed above, if the plaintiff waits too long she may miss the deadline imposed by the statute of limitations. The most important thing at this point is completing all medical treatment, and determining with your doctor if any long-term effects may result even after successful treatment. Legal counsel should be sought to assist in managing deadlines and gathering evidence.
For more information on the next step of the Personal Injury Trial Process, please see the below link.
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