When you are injured by another person, you have the right to be compensated for medical expenses, lost earnings, and other damages. However, how you go about filing a personal injury claim may affect the success of its outcome. Using the following information and working with an experienced Bend, Oregon personal injury attorney, you can protect your rights and strengthen your claim for compensation.
Get immediate medical treatment for your injuries
Personal injury claims can occur in a variety of different circumstances, including:
- Car and truck accidents.
- Motorcycle crashes.
- Bicycling accidents.
- Slip-and-fall and other premises liability accidents.
- Pedestrian accidents.
- Medical malpractice.
- Defective products.
- Animal attacks and dog bites.
- Hospital and nursing home negligence.
- Bus and other types of transportation accidents.
- Boating accidents.
- Wrongful death.
When a personal injury claim occurs, you need to be examined by a doctor as soon as possible. Potentially serious injuries, such as concussions and whiplash, may not cause symptoms right away. To determine the nature and extent of your injuries, either go to the emergency room of a hospital or arrange to be seen by your own doctor.
Another reason to get medical treatment right away has to do with how insurance companies evaluate personal injury claims. The company providing insurance coverage will use the injured party’s delay in seeking medical treatment to dispute the severity of the injuries and diminish the value of their claim for personal injuries.
Time limits on personal injury claims
States have statutes of limitations imposing strict limits on how long you have to file a personal injury claim. For example, you have two years from the date of injury in Oregon to start a lawsuit to recover damages for personal injuries before losing the right to be compensated.
Some claims, such as those arising from a defective product or medical malpractice, may have longer timeframes within which to sue the at-fault party, depending on when the injury was first discovered. Rather than risk losing the right to recover compensation, let a knowledgeable Bend personal injury attorney advise you about the time limitations that apply to your claim.
Steps to filing a personal injury claim
As a general rule, the filing of a personal injury claim involves the following steps.
Gather information about the accident and injuries: Police reports, statements from eyewitnesses, photographs of the scene, and other evidence showing that someone was responsible for causing you to be injured must be gathered for use in settlement discussions or in court. Medical records will also be needed to prove the nature and severity of the injuries that you suffered.
Notify the at-fault party: A letter is sent to notify the person or business that you have a claim for personal injuries. The letter tells them to forward it to their insurance company, which may lead to the start of settlement discussions once the company sets up a claim file and completes its investigation of the accident. Sometimes, particularly when a person has delayed filing a claim, a lawyer may file a lawsuit instead of writing a letter in order to avoid problems with the statute of limitations.
Negotiate settlements: Settlement discussions may begin once the insurance company opens a file and completes its investigation of the claim. Negotiations continue as long as both sides believe that there is hope of reaching a settlement.
Go to court: Claims that are not resolved through settlement may eventually go to trial, with a judge or jury considering the evidence presented by all parties and deciding whether to award damages and how much to award to the injured party.
Preparing a claim for trial includes investigation, depositions and document requests in order to gather information about the case from the opposing party. Discovery may also involve a physical examination of the injured person by a doctor chosen by the party accused of being at fault.
Retaining the services of a personal injury lawyer
Before attempting to file a personal injury claim on your own, arrange for a consultation with a Bend, Oregon, personal injury lawyer. They offer the advantage of unsurpassed knowledge of the law and the procedures associated with filing a personal claim.
Equally important is the ability of a lawyer to estimate the value of your claim, so you can ensure getting the full value of your claim. Having a lawyer handle the filing of a personal injury claim lets you focus on resting and recovering from your injuries, while a seasoned professional aggressively fights to protect your rights and get you the compensation that you need and deserve.