If you or a member of your family has suffered a brain injury due to the negligence or intentional act of another person, you may be able to sue for damages. While you might want to put off your action for a few weeks to recover, doing so could end up hurting your case.
There are steps that must be taken as soon as possible to give your case the best chance of success. For example, time-sensitive evidence must be gathered, and eyewitnesses will have to be interviewed while the incident is still fresh in their memory. You should also follow all doctors’ orders, avoid social media, and decline to give a recorded statement to the insurance company.
A brain injury attorney can help you avoid mistakes early in the proceedings that would impact your case down the road. Your lawyer can also begin a prompt investigation to compile time-sensitive evidence. For these and many other reasons, the best time to hire a lawyer is immediately after sustaining the injury.
Taking Action Right Away Might Yield Compensation Sooner
As you’re probably well-aware, the costs can add up quickly after a traumatic brain injury. You may be facing medical copays, lost wages, and miscellaneous costs like transportation and domestic help.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for brain injury cases to take well over a year to resolve. It might be advisable to hold off on the settlement negotiations until you have reached maximum medical improvement, which of course can take time when recovering from TBI.
Also, a dispute might arise that sends your case to litigation. For example, the insurance company might challenge your lawyer’s damages calculations or argue that you were partially liable for the accident.
Hiring an attorney right away will allow the proceedings to begin immediately, which could push forward the date when your claim is resolved. Your lawyer can also help you avoid making critical errors such as:
- Accepting a Low Settlement: If you accept a settlement before you’ve reached maximum medical improvement, there’s a chance that your healthcare costs and other losses will turn out to be more expensive than anticipated. It’s not uncommon for brain injury patients to suffer complications that aggravate their condition or prolong their recovery. In other words, settling a case too early might lead to financial troubles down the road. Unfortunately, offering a premature settlement is just one of many potential strategies used by insurance companies to pay out less compensation. A seasoned brain injury lawyer will understand those strategies, advocate for your best interests, and help you determine the most strategic time to enter settlement negotiations.
- Giving a Recorded Statement: If you give a recorded statement to the insurance adjuster, it might be used to dispute your claim. Adjusters know the best questions to ask to get claimants to say things that open the door to a dispute. As such, you should let your personal injury attorney handle all dialogue with the insurer from day one.
- Posting Sensitive Information Online: Using social media to share details about the accident or your medical recovery could end up hurting your case. Photos of injuries, written descriptions of what led to the accident, and pictures of you spending time with friends could all lead to a dispute. For example, a description of the incident might implicate you as partially liable. Photos of you going out with friends or participating in strenuous activities might be used to contend that you are ignoring your doctor’s instructions. This may constitute a failure to mitigate damages, which can lead to a reduction in your financial recovery. There are many other ways your social media posts could jeopardize your case, so it is best to disable your accounts temporarily and to ask friends and family not to tag you in posts or publish pictures of you.
- Ignoring Your Doctor’s Orders: We’ve already touched on how disobeying your doctor’s orders could lead to a dispute over the mitigation of damages. Evidence used to support this defense might include your social media posts, records of you missing scheduled medical appointments, video footage of you participating in strenuous activities, or evidence that you have returned to work too early.
A brain injury attorney can help you anticipate and avoid disputes that would jeopardize your case or prolong the proceedings. And of course, it is better for your lawyer to be involved early on so you don’t make an inadvertent mistake that an attorney could have helped you avoid.
Under What Circumstances Should I Hire a Brain Injury Attorney?
Most brain injury attorneys offer free consultations, so even if you’re not sure whether you should hire one, it’s a good idea to set up a meeting. Everyone’s situation is different. Whether or not a lawyer could help with your case will depend on the circumstances.
You should certainly consider hiring an attorney if:
- Your Injury Is Serious: If you only suffered a minor concussion, you might not even intend to file a personal injury claim. It is important to note, however, that a concussion can still lead to serious complications. Even if your injury doesn’t seem very severe, you should act as though you will eventually file a claim. Preserve all medical records, document your expenses and time off work, keep a personal injury journal, and be careful about what you say on social media. And of course, if you sustained a more severe TBI, you should seek immediate medical care and then contact an attorney.
- Someone Else Was Liable for the Injury: If your own negligence led to the injury, it is unlikely that you will be able to collect damages in a third-party claim; however, if you can prove that someone else was at least partially liable, then bringing a claim might be worth considering. In Florida, a personal injury claimant can recover even if they were more than 50 percent liable for the tort, which differentiates Florida from modified comparative negligence and contributory negligence states. If another party was liable for the injury, you should speak with an attorney about bringing a claim.
- Your Damages Are Significant: Sometimes it’s difficult for a person to tell if they have grounds for a personal injury claim. At the end of the day, it never hurts to schedule a free consultation with a lawyer. If you sustained a traumatic brain injury and your medical costs and other losses are significant, you should discuss your options with an attorney.
- The Insurance Company Is Being Uncooperative: Some people try to take on the insurance company alone, only to find out that the insurer is using meritless defenses and refusing to pay a fair settlement. It’s always best to hire a lawyer before you’ve spoken to the insurance company, but if you’ve already tried to file the claim on your own but the insurer has been unreasonable, contact a lawyer to discuss your situation.
How Can a Brain Injury Attorney Assist with My Case?
Below are just a few ways a skilled lawyer might assist with your case:
- Gathering Evidence: Your attorney will know the kinds of evidence needed to build your claim and can apply legal pressure, if necessary, to obtain that evidence.
- Explaining Common Mistakes: We’ve already discussed some of the errors a personal injury plaintiff might make, but there are dozens more that we have not mentioned. Your attorney can review the facts of your case and explain the most common mistakes made by people in your particular situation. This could prevent disputes from arising that would lead to litigation and possibly reduce your financial recovery.
- Estimating a Fair Settlement Figure: Calculating damages can be especially challenging in brain injury cases. Many factors can influence the calculations including your age at the time of injury, the extent of the physical and cognitive effects, the permanence of the injury, the kinds of medical intervention you need, your pre-injury income, your career trajectory, and the cost of property repairs and other economic damages.
- Consulting with Various Experts: A variety of medical specialists could play a role in a brain injury patient’s recovery. One or more of these specialists might be brought in to provide deposition regarding your diagnosis and prognosis. A life care planner might also be deposed regarding the expected cost of medical care, and your lawyer might depose financial and vocational experts to prove the value of lost income of loss of earning capacity.
- Litigating Your Case: An attorney can help you file a lawsuit if the defense refuses to pay a fair settlement.
Speak with a Brain Injury Lawyer in Stuart Today
At Donaldson & Weston, we have extensive experience in catastrophic injury cases. We can make sure you are treated fairly, and if the insurance company refuses to cooperate, our attorneys will relish the opportunity to enter litigation if it is in your best interests to do so. For a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer in Stuart, call 772-266-5555 or send us a message.