Accidents are often frightening and stressful experiences. In the immediate aftermath, you may be unsure how to proceed. Do you have a personal injury claim, and what are your options for pursuing compensation? And what mistakes should you avoid if you want the best shot at a successful claim?

The May Firm personal injury lawyers in Fresno answer these questions and more below.

What Is a Personal Injury Claim?

If you’ve never made a personal injury claim before, you might be unsure what it is. So, let’s offer a brief definition.

A personal injury claim is a civil lawsuit based on the rules of negligence. It’s based on the principle that people should be compensated if someone else’s negligence harms them in some way. And while compensation can never make up for your injuries, it can help you recover and move forward.

Who Can Make a Personal Injury Claim?

You can make a personal injury claim if you can prove the following.

  • Someone owed you a duty of care. This is a duty to exercise reasonable care and diligence to avoid harming others. For example, we owe a duty of care to our employees, or when we’re driving.
  • This person acted negligently and failed in their duty of care. For example, perhaps your employer knew about unsafe working conditions and failed to fix them.
  • You were injured due to this negligent act. In other words, you wouldn’t be hurt were it not for the other party’s carelessness.
  • You have losses, whether they’re financial e.g. medical bills or non-economic e.g. pain and suffering.

Our Fresno personal injury lawyers can explain if you have grounds for a civil lawsuit.

Gavel and stethoscope on top of brain scans after an accident

What Compensation Can You Seek in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

There are two types of compensation you can seek: economic and non-economic damages.  

  • Economic damages are tangible. They are, essentially, your financial losses related to the accident. Examples are doctor’s bills, therapy fees, and lost income.
  • Non-economic damages are subjective. They’re harder to quantify. They include mental anguish, pain and suffering, and psychological harms.

Determining how much a claim is worth is complex. However, an experienced personal injury lawyer knows how to value a claim based on the evidence.

How Mistakes Can Jeopardize Your Personal Injury Claim in Fresno

Unfortunately, many accident victims take it upon themselves to handle their own claim. While this is understandable, it’s often a mistake! And when it comes to personal injury lawsuits, mistakes can be costly. The consequences of getting your lawsuit wrong include:

  • Missing critical filing deadlines
  • Failing to get the damages you deserve
  • Losing your right to claim entirely

Our personal injury lawyers want you to succeed. While you should call us for personalized advice, here are seven pitfalls you should avoid in the claims process.

1. Neglecting to Report the Accident

In California, you should report any accident involving injuries, no matter how minor. Failing to report could lead to serious consequences, including:

  • License suspension
  • Allegations of fleeing an accident scene
  • Lack of evidence to support a civil lawsuit

For example, say you’re in an auto accident in Fresno, CA. Even if you only have minor cuts and bruises, these still count as injuries. Obtain a police report by reporting the crash.

2. Failing to File on Time

There are deadlines for filing civil lawsuits, known as statutes of limitations. Most personal injury claims in CA must be filed within two years of the accident date. Miss this deadline, and you could lose your right to claim.

Other deadlines may apply if, for example, minors are involved or there’s a fatality. Experienced lawyers in Fresno, CA, can advise you further.

3. Leaving the Scene Without Gathering Evidence

The more evidence you provide to support your losses, the easier it is to secure damages. Without evidence, you may be unable to prove aspects of your claim.  

  • Take pictures and/or videos of property damage and your injuries.  
  • Capture weather conditions and any hazards that contributed to the crash. 
  • Get witness details, if available. 
  • Exchange information with the other driver. 
  • Retain receipts, proof of lost wages, and other paperwork which may be helpful.

4. Failing to Seek Medical Attention

Even if you don’t feel injured, visit your doctor. Brain injuries, internal bleeding, and other injuries can take time to develop. And even seemingly minor injuries should be examined.

Without medical records, it’s harder to prove that the accident caused your injuries. Always get a doctor’s advice as soon as possible after a crash.

Do you have more serious injuries and an uncertain prognosis? Our personal injury lawyers in Fresno can help you access the medical support you need as your claim progresses.

5. Accepting the First Settlement Offer

Insurance companies may offer a quick settlement to close the case. However, this is rarely the best and final offer! But if you accept it, then it’s impossible to seek further compensation down the line for the same injuries.

Always get an attorney’s advice on what your claim is worth before accepting an offer. Otherwise, you risk settling for less – sometimes far less – than what you deserve.

6. Handling the Claim Yourself

Civil negligence claims are complex. And insurance companies are notoriously difficult to deal with. By handling the claim yourself, you risk making procedural missteps that could damage your claim. You also risk:

  • Undervaluing your claim
  • Suing the wrong parties
  • Missing your claims deadline
  • Providing insufficient evidence

Give yourself time to rest and recover after your crash. Hire a personal injury lawyer from the May Firm.

7. Failing to Disclose All Information

It might seem obvious, but you must be transparent with your attorney. Withholding even the smallest detail could jeopardize your claim down the line.

For example, say there’s a chance you were too tired to be driving. Or maybe you weren’t wearing the proper safety equipment at work. While such factors may not prevent you claiming damages, they could be problematic if you don’t disclose them.

Tell your attorney everything! They can decide what’s relevant and how to build the strongest case based on the facts.

Call for a Free Consultation with Personal Injury Lawyers in Fresno

At the May Firm, our attorneys understand why you might be reluctant to hire an attorney. Maybe you don’t think your injuries are serious enough. Or maybe you just want to settle the matter immediately and move on.

However, please remember that you don’t just deserve compensation for your injuries. You deserve the maximum damages available. And the only way to ensure you have this opportunity is by hiring a lawyer.

Schedule a meeting with us, and you can expect a warm welcome. We’ll do everything we can to reassure and help you. After all, every client becomes a part of the May Firm family. Our team will treat you with the compassion and respect you deserve.

All initial meetings are free, and we don’t charge anything unless we win your case. So, reach out to us to discuss your options. For a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer in Fresno, CA, call now. Alternatively complete our contact form and we will promptly respond.