After any accident involving an injury, some amount of time needs to pass before you understand the nature and severity of your injuries. Even minor injuries and pain may linger for weeks or months after an accident – car accident, slip or fall injury, dog bite, etc. – before you’re able to assess the impact on your life. More serious injuries will require medical treatment that may be ongoing with no clear end in sight.
If you’re making a legal claim for your injuries, how do you know how much compensation to demand if you’re still in the healing process? Should you prepare your insurance claim or injury lawsuit now?
If you’re still receiving medical treatment for your injuries, you don’t need to wait to file a claim. In fact, it’s a good idea to get the process started, whether we’re talking about an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit.
That’s because you’ll eventually run into a filing deadline when it comes to a lawsuit, and if you’re going to take the matter to court, you need to comply with that deadline. Getting the case started is one thing, but you don’t want to resolve your case (i.e. accept a settlement) before you have a firm understanding of the nature and scope of your damages.
With every kind of lawsuit, there is a state law that sets a deadline for going to court and getting the case filed. This law is called a statute of limitations, and there are different deadlines for different kinds of cases. A car accident, slip and fall, dog bite, or similar type of case will be governed by the personal injury statute of limitations in your state. Even if you’re just involved in an insurance claim for now, it’s important to keep the statute of limitations in mind in case you eventually need to file a lawsuit.
Before you decide to accept that settlement offer from the insurance adjuster or the defendant, you need to figure out whether you have reached “maximum medical improvement” or MMI. That means, either you are as healthy as you are going to be in the wake of your injuries, or you and your attorney at least know how to value your damages in terms of required future medical care and the ongoing financial impact of your injuries.
Remember, there’s nothing to be lost by getting the claims process started before you’ve reach MMI, you just need to be sure you have a clear picture of your damages (past and future) before you resolve the case.
You may benefit from talking to a personal injury lawyer about your case before making any potentially damaging decisions regarding your rights.