Document the Incident by Police Report
Call the police as soon as possible to have an officer come to the scene of a personal injury incident. The officer will take down your contact information, the other parties’ contact information, any witnesses contact information, and all of your statements. The officer will also do some investigation by taking statements from the parties and the witnesses and may even do some analysis of the area where the incident took place and may provide a written conclusion in the report as to who is at fault.
Go to the Doctor
If possible you should go to see a doctor the same day your injury occurred and you should obtain as many documents as possible from the doctor’s office or hospital when you leave so you can give this information to your attorney.
Go to a Personal Inury Attorney – No Statements to Insurance Company
If the person who caused your injuries has insurance the insurance company will call you as soon as they can to get you to provide them with a recorded statement over the telephone. Do not provide a recorded statement, because the things you say in the statement may be used against you in Court in the future. You should seek the assistance of a personal injury attorney at your earliest opportunity, because once you are represented the insurance company cannot contact you and must only communicate with your attorney. Also, most, if not all, personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis so there are not upfront fees for retaining one.
Continue Medical Treatment
Do not ignore your injuries, because you run the risk of the injuries getting worse. You should continue receiving medical treatment until you have fully recovered from your injuries. Even if your treatment will extend years into the future part of your recoverable damages will be the future cost of such treatment.
File a Lawsuit if Necessary
If the insurance company will not settle your claim for a reasonable amount then have your attorney file a lawsuit against the person who injured you. In California you have 2 years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit, but don’t wait until the last minute to file. It’s a good idea to file at least 6 months prior to the end of your 2 year post-incident period.
Most Cases Settle
Most cases settle prior to filing a lawsuit. Even if you file a lawsuit the case will still most likely settle prior to going to trial. Don’t set your expectations too high, because your lawyer has a lot of incentive to get as much money as possible for you, because they get a percentage of your settlement (33% to 40%) and therefore the more they get for you the more they earn. So your attorney will do the best they can for you, but you have to be realistic.