Accidents happen all the time and can occur in a wide range of settings. From workplace slip and fall cases to vehicle accidents, and from nursing home injuries to medical malpractice, injuries and accidents can affect anyone, anywhere, and can lead to significant financial losses and serious bodily harm. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were roughly 40 million physician visits and almost 170,000 fatalities in the United States in 2017 due to accidents.
If you were injured in an accident, here is what you need to know about handling your own claim.
Collect Evidence and Identify the At-Fault Party
The first step in any personal injury claim is collecting evidence and identifying the at-fault party. The at-fault party or parties are the individuals or groups you hold responsible for the accident in which you suffered losses or injuries.
Identifying the at-fault party usually requires some form of proof. The proof you will need depends on the kind of accident or injuries in question. For example:
- Evidence for a vehicle accident can be a police accident report, accident photos, or video footage from the scene. You can also use cellphone usage data if you are trying to prove distracted driving, or vehicle speed and location data.
- For nursing home injuries, you can use eyewitness accounts of an accident or injury, proof of financial transactions to support a financial abuse claim, or proof of physical injuries such as X-rays or medical reports for a bodily harm claim.
- Maintenance logs–for vehicles, roads, or machinery–can be used to support a claim regarding injuries caused by faulty vehicles, roads, or machinery. Maintenance and service logs can also be used in slip and fall cases and premises liability claims.
- The testimony of a medical professional can be used–and is sometimes required–for medical malpractice cases.
- Workplace accidents can be proven using footage of the accident or safety and security records to determine whether or not an employer was up to code regarding worker safety.
Once you have evidence to prove that you suffered an accident or sustained injuries and can connect your accident and/or injuries to the actions of an at-fault party, you must evaluate your losses.
Evaluate Losses and Damages
The idea behind a personal injury claim is receiving compensation for the losses and/or damages you suffered because of the negligence, recklessness, or incompetence of another party. When submitting a demand letter to an at-fault party’s insurer seeking compensation, you need to highlight the losses that accrue from:
- Lost wages, including lost future wages or lower earning capacity.
- Medical treatment costs.
- Vehicle or property damage.
- Noneconomic damages such as a lower quality of life and pain and suffering.
Accurately assessing these damages is critical because an unfair claim demand will likely be denied outright, and an inadequate demand leaves you exposed to the risks of financial stress over time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Vital Signs publication, the costs of vehicle accidents can range from $3,300 to $57,000 depending on the severity of the victim’s injuries. These are substantial costs by any measure.
Prove Liability and File a Claim
The final step is proving liability of the at-fault party identified in the first step and connecting that party’s actions–or negligent inaction–to the injuries and/or damages identified and quantified in the second step. To win a personal injury claim, you must be able to prove that:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care of safety within the bounds deemed fair by law in the context of your accident.
- The at-fault party breached the duty of care in some way.
- The breach in the duty of care led to an accident.
- You suffered losses, damages, or injuries because of the accident.
For vehicle accidents, the duty of care can be interpreted as driving safely and abiding by the law when operating a vehicle. For medical malpractice cases, it can be interpreted as having the experience, knowledge, and credentials to treat patients with specific illnesses.
If you can connect a breach of the duty of care to an accident and connect an accident to injuries and specific losses and damages, you will likely be able to file a compensation claim. This last step requires submitting your evidence, arguments supporting your claim, and a letter of intent to sue to the at-fault party’s insurer so they can review your case.
If you were involved in a hit-and-run or had an accident with a party that was not insured, it can be hard to win compensation of any type. This is because Indiana is an at-fault state and you typically cannot seek compensation from your own insurer for an accident unless you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. The insurance coverage policies that apply to your accident will vary from case to case.
Contact Our Office to Learn More About Personal Injury Claims
The Sevenish Law Firm, P.C. focuses exclusively on personal injury cases. Unless you understand relevant personal injury and insurance laws and know how to collect evidence and present a compelling case for compensation, you run the risk of having your claim denied. To learn more about what you need to know about handling your own claim or for assistance with a claim, please call us today at (317) 743-7971.