If you or a loved one has been injured in a traffic accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation.
However, personal injury law can be confusing, and it’s not always obvious what the person injured, commonly referred to as “the plaintiff,” should be doing.
Fortunately, with the right preparation and the help of a good lawyer, it’s possible to receive the settlement you deserve.
In this article, we’ll go over nine personal injury tips which can help you maximize your personal injury claim.
These tips should apply to most personal injury cases, although, as always, no one article can cover every kind of injury claim.
For specific legal advice, always consult an experienced Virginia personal injury lawyer.
9 Tips for Maximizing Your Personal Injury Claim
Tip #1 – Know Your Rights
Under U.S. law, every person in the United States has equal access to the judicial court system.
This includes both citizens and non-citizens of the United States, regardless of your legal status.
You should never be afraid to pursue a lawsuit just because you aren’t a citizen.
Tip #2 – File a Police Report
In some personal injury cases, it’s appropriate to file a police report.
If the injury in question is an auto accident, it’s especially important for you to do so as it will help establish who was at fault for the accident.
Plus, it’s simply a good idea to have documentation of the accident.
This is because the police report will contain vital information that both your lawyer and your insurance company will need.
Police reports can also be useful in the settlement process, where they can help prove your side of the story.
However, keep in mind that police reports are not generally admissible in personal injury cases.
So while you should always request a copy of the police report, keep in mind that it will not win your case for you.
Tip #3 – Document Everything
In most personal injury cases, you are suing for the various hardships the wrongful or negligent actions of another have caused you.
For this reason, you should take care to document those hardships.
Even small inconveniences, such as having to use a rideshare service to get to work, can add up over time.
Don’t forget to also document inconveniences and expenses that are placed on other members of your family.
For example, if your spouse or child has to take you to medical appointments.
You can do this in a journal, your phone, or however else is convenient.
The important thing is to record as many details as possible, especially dates.
This information will be useful for when you begin the personal injury process in the future.
Tip #4 – Go to the Doctor
Never forgo medical treatment if you are seeking a personal injury settlement.
Basically, if you want to argue that an injury caused you inconvenience or harm, you need to seek treatment.
Otherwise, the defense will be able to argue they can deny payment for medical treatment because no injuries were diagnosed or documented.
After all, you didn’t even need to go to the doctor—how bad could it be?
On the other hand, a physician’s testimony is some of the best evidence you can have in court.
For this reason, you should always make sure you go over any and all evidence with your lawyer before you present it in court.
Tip #5 – Never Lie or Exaggerate
When you’re trying to make your point, it can be easy to overstate the extent of your injuries.
However, doing so can have profoundly negative consequences in court.
Instead, you should always be honest and direct when talking about your injuries, even outside of the courtroom.
Stay consistent and stick to the facts, because failing to do so will destroy your credibility.
Tip #6 – Be a Witness
In some cases, the person who’s injured you may end up in criminal court.
If that happens, the judge or an attorney may ask you to serve as a witness at the trial.
You should absolutely go, and provide the best and most accurate testimony you can.
That’s because, in Virginia, you are allowed to use criminal court judgments as evidence in civil court.
Although it won’t necessarily prove the extent of your injuries, a guilty verdict is an incredibly strong evidence that wrongdoing took place.
Tip #7 – Mention Prior Accidents
On a similar note, always tell your lawyer about any prior accidents, pre-existing injuries, and other physical or medical issues.
Concealing such injuries could also negatively impact your case by leading to confusion about where your injuries actually came from.
However, if you are open about your prior medical history, there’s less of a chance of it causing an issue for you.
Tip #8 – Avoid Social Media
Remember that anything you put down in writing can be brought up as evidence against you in court.
This even includes social media posts not related to your injury.
Even if your social media shows you living a normal, happy life, that fact could theoretically be used to as evidence against your personal injury claim because it could negate the injuries you claim.
For that reason, you’re better off staying off social media as much as possible during the lead-up to your court date.
This goes double for talking about your case online in any capacity.
Simply put, there is never a good reason to publicly discuss an ongoing legal case. Doing so can only hurt your case in the long run.
Instead, you’re better off keeping the specific details of your case between yourself and your lawyer. Speaking of which…
Tip #9 – Seek Out a Lawyer
As we’ve seen throughout this list, having access to a good lawyer can make a huge difference in personal injury cases.
Without a lawyer, it can be almost impossible to navigate the ins and outs of a personal injury case.
A bad lawyer can be just as much of a problem, and might push you to make decisions you aren’t comfortable with.
Remember that when you hire a lawyer, you’re paying for a service. You have the right to know what you’re getting.