A personal injury in Hollywood can wreck your day, your week, maybe even your life. We hope you never have to deal with the pain, stress, and endless negotiation inherent in a personal injury, but if you do, how you respond in the immediate aftermath can maximize the value of your case, minimize the damaging effects to your health, and ensure you are treated fairly.
Even if your injuries are relatively minor, an accurate and timely report will preserve your own memory, in addition to serving as a helpful record down the road. If you are in a car accident or hurt by another person, call the police immediately. If you’re injured at a business or at someone’s home, call an ambulance. The business should also willingly provide you with a copy of any report it creates, but it may take several days to access this report.
A report by an authority is not the final word on what happened, but it can serve as evidence if you end up filing a lawsuit.
Many injuries, especially concussions and soft tissue injuries, seem relatively minor at first, but get steadily worse over time. Even if you feel okay at first, you need to be checked out by a medial professional if you’ve fallen or been in a car wreck. And if you hit your head, you need medical care immediately. Call an ambulance when you call for help, or if you feel up to it, have a loved one drive you to a hospital or urgent care center. Prompt medical care could save your life. It will also serve as early proof of your injuries, and that can make a big difference in your case.
It’s tempting to return to work as soon as you can, especially if you do not have paid sick leave or your boss threatens you for taking time off. But going back to work too soon can undermine your case, since it gives the other side a compelling argument that you’re not as injured as you claim to be. If your boss is giving you grief, ask your lawyer to deal with him or her. And don’t go back to work until you have the green light from your doctor.
The only person who can tell you whether or not you have a valuable case is a skilled personal injury attorney—not a doctor, not a friend, not someone who sued somebody else once, and certainly not a representative from the other side’s insurance company.
In almost all cases, the person or entity responsible for your injuries will have a lawyer on their side. So when you opt not to hire your own lawyer, you’ve created an uneven playing field. From there, it’s easy to be taken advantage of—particularly if you’re offered a large check. The first offer is almost never fair, and rarely fully covers the value of your injuries, so don’t go to the negotiating table without a lawyer!
You already know you need a lawyer, but you might think it’s ok to field calls from the insurance company without your lawyer. Resist the temptation! What you say to the insurance adjuster can have far-reaching implications for your case, and your lawyer might not always be able to fix these problems. Tell the insurance adjuster the name of your lawyer, and ask them to communicate solely with him or her.
Personal injury cases succeed or fail based on diligent documentation of basic information. You’ll need medical records, photos of the accident scene, evidence of any and all lost wages or time off of work, notes from your doctor indicating the precise nature of your injuries, as well as copies of any and all communications with the insurance company or the person who injured you. Keep careful records, and opt to communicate in person whenever possible. Know also that you are legally entitled to your medical records, even if you owe your doctor money. If you have any difficulties getting the documents you need to prove your injuries, talk to your lawyer as soon as possible.