After a car accident, slip and fall accident, or other type of accident, you may find yourself wondering if you have a valid personal injury claim and what type of financial compensation is available. If this is your first time being injured by someone else’s negligence, you might not know what to do or how the insurance company will view your claim.
Any time you are injured, especially when someone else is at fault, insurance companies will play a part in determining whether you have a valid claim. Although the insurance adjuster working on your case will likely not be overly cooperative, you can determine for yourself whether you might have a valid claim and what damages you may be entitled to.
Determining a Personal Injury Claim’s Validity
Whether you are seeking a financial recovery from another person’s insurance carrier or your own insurance company, it is important that you know what insurance companies look at when determining a claim’s validity. Some factors include:
- Were you injured? If you were not injured, you will not have a valid personal injury claim. If you did suffer any type of injury, it is critical to your health and well-being—and to your claim—that you seek medical attention. By seeing an ER doctor or primary care physician, you will have medical records that will strengthen your personal injury claim. During this time, you will want to make sure you are following all of your doctor’s orders, such as attending physical therapy sessions so that the insurance adjuster doesn’t question your injury.
- Do you have proof or documentation that supports your injury claim? In order to help strengthen your personal injury claim, documentation can be very helpful. Make detailed notes for yourself following the accident because as time goes on memories can fade. If possible, take pictures of the accident scene and your injuries. Also, get copies of incident reports or police reports, as well as medical records and medical bills. By being as organized as possible, it will show the insurer you mean business and that you are aware of your rights to compensation.
- Are you within the statute of limitations? There is a window of time the state allows you to file a personal injury claim. In Virginia, you will generally have two years from the date of the car accident, slip and fall accident, or medical malpractice incident to bring a claim against the negligent person. In DC, the filing deadlines usually allow victims three years. But because laws are constantly changing, it is wise to file a claim sooner rather than later so that your case isn’t dismissed.
What Damages Are Available in an Injury Claim?
After an insurance adjuster determines that you have a valid claim, he or she will look at compensating you for your injuries and losses. Compensation for a personal injury claim are referred to as “damages.” Damages can include non-economic damages (also known as general damages) or economic damages (also referred to as special damages).
- Economic damages. These damages are losses you suffered that are specifically tied to a dollar amount. This includes compensation for your medical bills, prescription costs, rehabilitation expenses, lost income, property damages, and any out-of-pocket costs related to your accident. Economic damages also include compensation for future medical expenses and loss of future income potential, in addition to damages for impairment of earning opportunity.
- Non-economic damages. These damages are harder to put a dollar amount on. Some of the losses you should be compensated for include disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of companionship, pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of memory, and other harm you suffered as a result of your injury.
Damages are designed to compensate victims for losses and injuries; however, some people may not be entitled to any damages following an injury due to Virginia’s contributory negligence rule. Because this law can be confusing, and because there are some exceptions, it is important to talk with a lawyer about the specifics of your case.
At Shevlin Smith, we would be happy to answer your questions, determine if you have a valid injury claim and give you an idea of what type of financial recovery you may be entitled to. Please don’t hesitate to ask us questions. You can fill out a short form online or call us at (703) 591-0067 for a free, no-obligation consultation.