Personal injury? Take these next steps.
Updated: Jul 3, 2019
Personal injury is a legal term for an injury to the body, mind or emotions, as opposed to an injury to property, caused by the negligence of other. The most common types of personal injury claims are car accidents, accidents at work, tripping accidents, assault claims, accidents in the home, and product defect accidents (product liability). If some other person or company was negligent or intentionally caused your injury, you generally are entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost income and pain and suffering caused by the injury.
The first thing that you should do after being injured is to get medical treatment. If you are hurt, go to the hospital or see a doctor. This is important both to be sure you are really okay and to document your injuries if you decide to pursue a claim. Preserving any physical evidence of the incident and your injuries can help support your position in a legal claim.
Take notes about the incident and your injuries as soon as possible – when it’s still fresh in your mind. Detail the extent of your injuries and all of your expenses. Compare these with hospital bills and medical records and make sure you have a record of everything. Also keep a diary of how you are feeling and your level of pain each day.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
After a car accident, you should take photos of the scene, your injuries, and any property damage. Get the names and contact information of any witnesses that may have seen the accident. Keep copies of property damage estimates and repair records, and get a copy of the police report filed. Be sure to cooperate with the police and your own insurance company, but do not speak to investigators or adjusters of the insurance company for the other vehicle until you first speak to your own attorney.
Defective Consumer Products
If you are injured by a faulty product, be sure to preserve the item in the same condition it was in when the incident occurred. You should keep written instructions and warnings that come with products such as household appliances and outdoor power tools. If you can, try to locate the original sales receipt for the item. If you cannot find the receipt in your own personal records, you may be able to get it from the seller.
In a medical malpractice injury, keep or obtain copies of all medical records that pertain to the medical treatment at issue, as well as those related to any second or third opinions obtained from other health care providers. Also, in cases where a physical injury is visible, be sure to take photos that depict any evidence of potentially improper medical treatment.
Slip and Fall
Take pictures of the scene that could point to unsafe conditions such as spilled liquids or food, cracked sidewalks, objects on the stairs, ice and snow, broken floor tiles, uneven steps, missing handrails and potholes. Get the names and contact info of any witnesses.
The next thing that you will have to do, for anything more than a minor claim, is to talk to a lawyer. In general, if you are out of work for more than a couple of days, if you break a bone, or if your medical bills total more than a couple of thousand dollars, you should hire a lawyer.
And this needs to be done in a timely manner. There are laws on the books called "statutes of limitations" that specify the maximum time you have to bring a lawsuit. These time limits usually depend on the legal claim involved in the case, and they are different from state to state. In New Jersey, the statute of limitation for personal injury lawsuits generally is 2 years from the date of injury. If you miss this deadline, you may be barred from ever bringing suit to recover for your injuries. But do not wait until the last minute to consult an attorney because the attorney will have to investigate your potential claim and will want to review your medical records before filing suit.
I am happy to discuss your case in detail with you via email or phone. Please don’t hesitate to call me at (973) 509-8500 x213 or email me at: LFarber@LFarberLaw.com
The contents of this writing are intended for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion in any specific facts or circumstances.