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Accident victims can maximize the compensation they receive by following these five steps

Whether we like it or not, our justice system attempts to financially compensate those individuals who are harmed as a result of the negligent conduct of others. Questions about whether this is appropriate or even possible are philosophical and beyond the scope of this article. If you have been injured due to the fault of another, there are five steps you should take to maximize your recovery.

1. Seek diagnosis and treatment from a qualified medical professional as soon as possible. This may seem like a no-brainer, but many people wait days, even weeks, before seeking treatment for serious injuries. Most injury claims are handled by agents and employees of insurance companies. Claims that cannot be resolved can go to trial. Claims adjusters and juries have one thing in common. They want the accident victim’s injury claims to pass the “sniff test.” In other words, the victim’s injury claims must appear reasonable under the circumstances and supported by a doctor’s diagnosis. There must be evidence that the treatment prescribed by the doctor was medically necessary.

Prompt diagnosis and treatment by qualified medical professionals maximize recovery by showing the adjuster or jury that the injury was real and that the victim is not seeking unfair compensation. The doctor’s diagnosis of the injury is also necessary to show the adjuster or jury that the accident was the legal cause of the injury.

2. Photograph visible signs of trauma immediately and over time. If the victim of an accident suffers lacerations or bruises, these injuries are usually clearly visible. Photos should be taken as soon as possible. Additional photographs should be taken to document the healing process and the amount of time the healing process takes. If surgery is necessary, make sure that pictures are taken before and after surgery. Ideally, the photos should be taken by someone who is available to give a statement or testify about when and where the photos were taken. The victim may take the photographs if he or she is physically able.

3. Photograph the accident site and obtain contact information for witnesses. If the injury was due to a car accident, if possible, photograph the cars and the scene of the accident. Even if the photos are not taken on the same date as the accident, they are valuable. If the injury was due to a defective consumer product, photograph the product. If possible, keep the item in the same condition it was in when the incident occurred. Also, keep all written instructions, warnings, labels, and packaging that accompany the item. If you can, try to locate the item’s original sales receipt. If the injury was due to a slip and fall, photograph the area where the accident occurred. Do your best to get contact information for all witnesses. If possible, don’t rely on the police report, get your own contact information. The police do their best, but the names, phone numbers, and addresses on the report are often inaccurate.

4. Obtain and maintain clear records of lost work and expenses resulting from the injury. A victim claiming that they missed work as a result of an injury should be able to support the claim with documentary evidence. The accident victim may also be compensated for expenses related to the accident, such as prescription drugs, slings, canes, and wheelchairs. However, these expenses must be documented. The burden of proving expenses related to the injury rests with the victim and their attorney.

5. Keep a journal or log detailing the impact the injury has had on the life of the victim and their family. In serious cases, a record describing the daily activities that have been interrupted and the additional loads created by the injury can be very helpful in allowing the adjuster or jury to understand the seriousness of the injury.

An injury caused by the negligence of another is not a lottery ticket. It is an attempt to compensate the victim, not to reward her for her bad luck. The entity (usually an insurance company) that must pay the settlement is not interested in abstract concepts such as fairness and equity. You want to pay as little as possible. Follow the steps outlined above and you will maximize the dollar value of the claim.

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