The majority of personal injury actions result from automobile accidents, according to the American Bar Association, but the potential for personal injuries that do not involve a vehicle is infinite. Think medical malpractice, dog bites, construction accidents, slips and falls, etc. But while each injury is unique, the manner in which it should be addressed, from a legal standpoint, remains generally consistent. Do you know what to do in the event of suffering a personal injury?
Record the details of the event
Thomas Simeone of Simeone and Miller LLP in Washington, D.C., has been a personal injury attorney for 20 years. He lists three critical steps that you should take after any personal injury incident: Document how you were injured, try to determine who was at fault, and gather contact information from anyone who might have witnessed the incident.
Following a personal injury, it can be difficult to assess what actually took place. That’s why it’s so important to record as many details of the injury as possible. “This can be done by taking pictures, writing notes, or otherwise recording this information,” says Simeone. “Too many people do not get accurate information regarding the person or company at fault, do not record names and contact information of witnesses and, most importantly for non-automobile cases, do not photograph whatever caused them an injury (e.g., a dog that attacked, a fence or sign that fell upon them, what caused them to fall).”
Obviously, depending on the type of injury you have suffered, you may find it difficult or impossible to gather that kind of information. If you are unable to gather the details yourself, try and get help from someone who can tackle the task as soon as possible. Simeone recommends calling an attorney or having a family member do it before the dangerous condition that caused your injury is remedied or otherwise ceases to exist.
Attorney Jeffrey Nadrich, founder and managing partner of Nadrich & Cohen LLP, in Los Angeles, adds one more task to the all-important information-gathering step: Alert the property owner or manager of the property that an injury was suffered and submit an incident report to their insurance company within 24 hours—no matter what type of injury was incurred.
Seek medical attention as soon as possible
You should seek immediate medical attention for obvious injuries, but even if no injuries are apparent—or you think your injuries are minor—it’s still important to be examined by a doctor. “Following any injury, it is most important to check in with a healthcare professional,” says Sarah Elson, health expert and senior editor at Central Infusion Alliance Medical. “Even if the damage seems manageable, there might be dangerous effects on the body that appear hidden.” You could have contracted rabies or some other infection from an animal bite, or suffered a concussion from a bump to the head.
In addition to assuring your well-being, a medical exam is an excellent way to further document your accident, according to Simeone. Getting compensation for your injuries will be easier with ample supporting evidence.
Contact an attorney
A personal injury can wreak havoc on your home life, your job, your health, and your finances. Do whatever it takes to protect yourself. “Contact an attorney immediately,” says Simeone. “Most firms offer free consultations. There are deadlines and tasks that should be done quickly, and knowing the law is vital to building a case.”
Your attorney can provide appropriate next steps based on the severity of your injuries and how they came to be. The goal is to bring your back to your pre-injury self or, if that is not possible, determine the best way to compensate for your new altered state.