How Important Are Evidence and Witnesses in a Personal Injury Claim?
Evidence and witnesses in a personal injury claim are everything. We have a case now where the insurance company hasn’t accepted liability but it’s a pedestrian accident where he got hit and we are waiting on the police report, which hasn’t been produced yet. Evidence is everything. It’s very rare, maybe in one or two cases in 15 years that the police was actually an eye witness to what happened. If they weren’t there then they really can’t testify as to what happened. The officer may say the following: This is how I saw the cars when I arrived; this is how the cars came to rest when I came to the scene; no one moved their car and I saw skid marks; but all of that is post collision. The evidence post collision may not be enough to draw a conclusion on exactly how the accident happened. That’s the reason people are told not to move their cars until the cops arrive. You may get different versions of who hit who and how it happened if the cars are moved. Police are trained to look at how the cars came to rest, to look at skid marks, etc. The biggest evidence at the scene is looking at how the vehicles are positioned when the vehicles come to a complete stop, debris, and statements gathered from eye witnesses. The officer bases his or her report on these pieces of evidence. Witnesses make or break a lot of cases. If everyone’s version is the same and both drivers remember how the crash occurred happened, then there is no problem.
Do You Advise Clients to Keep a Log of Events After Sustaining an Injury in an Accident?
Yes, I advise clients to keep a log of events after sustaining an injury in an accident because memories fade over time. A lot of your injuries will be charted by the doctor, but it’s good to keep a personal log that is dated that will also describe how you feel on a weekly basis; such as if you feel worse or if you feel better, if you have increased pain while trying to complete certain tasks, etc. Doctors will keep a lot of notes on their own and a lot of what we get comes from the physician who has treated plenty of people who have had similar car accidents, but yes, you can keep your own diary because no two people are alike and injuries are subjective in nature. It’s good to include in the log how much time you missed from work so the lost wage forms are accurate. It’s good to keep an inventory for visits and the out-of-pocket expenses involved like co-pays, parking, and over the counter meds. Your notes should line up with your treatment notes and are lost wage information. It helps to have a personal diary for cases that go to trial so you can testify about how you felt at a particular point in time. You are not going to remember as well without writing it down when it happened a year or two prior to a deposition or trial.
How Soon Should Someone Seek Medical Treatment after an Accident?
Someone should seek medical treatment immediately after an accident. Delays may hinder recovery and may reduce settlement offers. Gaps in treatment may also reduce settlement offers. If you take two or three weeks off and then decide that you want to treat some more the offer may be reduced. Delays occur and gaps in treatment occur, and there are plausible explanation for both but it is better to avoid these if possible. A lot of people feel they are okay, especially with soft tissue injuries where the pain may not set in until the next day or 48 hours later. When in doubt, go get checked out. The sooner you seek treatment, the better for case settlement purposes, and for recovery purposes. You don’t have to tough it out. The biggest reason people delay is the inconvenience of seeking treatment. It is not convenient to miss work, especially if you have deadlines coming up. Many working parents have children that you usually pick up, and you have to get treatment after work. If you want to get well and you want to pursue your case it’s good to go in immediately and start your treatment right away, and try not to miss appointments.
How Long do Personal Injury Cases Typically Take to get Resolved?
Personal injury cases typically take anywhere from three months to six months for a typical soft tissue case to be resolved. For example, if you’ve had an accident or a car crash today and you treat for about a month or two months then maybe a month after you get discharged the case settles. Settlement time depends largely on how long you treat. The longer the treatment time, the longer the case will take to settle. An offer will not be made until treatment is complete. Also, longer treatment results in more records to review, meaning the insurance carrier will take more time to come back with an offer. If the case cannot be settled, then suit will be filed and trial may take another year or more. Of course, some cases settle after suit is filed.
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