An automobile accident can happen at any time and be life-changing when an injury occurs.
According to the National Safety Council, about 4.5 million U.S. citizens were involved in crashes in 2018 that resulted in serious injuries.
“Some people immediately after an accident are trapped in their vehicle and can’t get out,” he said. “They have a fracture or cuts and lacerations. If that’s the case, they need to sit still, stay tight and wait for the first responders to get there.”
If it’s a minor fender bender, the best course of action would be to move the vehicles off to the side of the road.
If you’re experiencing any pain or discomfort, he said, it’s advisable to seek medical treatment. Joseph said the victim doesn’t always feel the effects immediately after the collision.
“People can be shaken up and their adrenaline is running,” he said. “From what I’ve experienced and heard is people can go home, relax and then later feel discomfort or pain. Or they wake up stiff and sore the next day. If that’s the case, it’s best to see your doctor or get treatment right away.”
Also, documentation of injuries and vehicle damage will be among the first requests from the insurance company.
“They will want to know if you have proof of injuries so it’s always good to have photographic evidence of injuries to you and damage to your vehicle,” Joseph said.
Compensation for injuries
Early in the process of being injured, but after your health stabilizes, is when to engage with a personal injury attorney.
[Read about the 2-year statute of limitations on personal injury cases here]
A personal injury attorney can not only serve as your advocate when dealing with insurance companies, but can also ease the burden by managing and organizing the flurry of medical and insurance-related paperwork that results from an accident.
After you’ve been treated and have recovered from injuries due to someone else’s negligence, that’s when the personal injury claim would be filed. The settlement amount of a claim, says Joseph, is supposed to make you whole again.
“We know if someone’s injured or god forbid their life is taken, the family is left with devastation and no amount of money is going to make them whole,” Joseph said. “The law is available for people to make a personal injury claim that will pay for medical bills and lost wages.”
An injured victim may also be entitled to pain and suffering compensation, also known as loss of enjoyment of life.
“This is the inability to perform daily activities, which can be simple things like grooming, taking care of yourself or even raking the leaves or doing yard work,” Joseph said. “Those all have some value to them.”
Joseph also stressed there are different components among pain and suffering that most people don’t realize.
“A lot of people who sustain whiplash injuries have sleep disturbances,” he said. “They don’t get a good night’s sleep and wake up not feeling themselves. That has an added value to it, and an experienced personal injury lawyer can guide you through the value of your claim.”
And, an insurance company isn’t going to be jumping to ask during a recorded statement if you’ve had issues sleeping.
“That’s a question if the answer is yes, there’s value to that,” Joseph says.
Interstate travel risks abound
As summer travel season kicks into high gear, so does the risk of an interstate accident where drivers from another state crossing through Ohio are involved in an accident.
“We do see that quite a bit,” Joseph says. “The law says where an accident happened, that’s the law that governs the claim. So, if an accident happens in Ohio, you’re going to need an Ohio personal injury lawyer.”
Joseph has represented people from Pennsylvania, Indiana, Michigan and North Carolina who have been involved in accidents in the state of Ohio. He’s also represented Ohio drivers who have been involved in accidents in surrounding states.
“Sometimes, we can resolve those claims without going into the court system. Other times we need to help clients find local counsel in one of those states.”
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