If you are badly injured, there are certain steps you must take to protect yourself and those who depend on you.
- The most important thing to do is to seek medical attention. Go to your doctor, emergency room, urgent care center or health clinic that day to diagnose and treat your injuries effectively. If you are unable to afford the treatment you need, there are various resources available to you, including Medi-Cal, Medicare, MercyCare and the California Victim Compensation Program. Alternatively, if you pursue an action some healthcare providers may offer a form of credit called a "lien," which is payable at the conclusion of your personal injury case.
- Contact the authorities from the scene. The authorities can send the paramedics, investigate the scene and prepare an incident or traffic collision report. If you have a camera or a smart phone, take plenty of pictures to document the incident. Ask witnesses for their names and contact information - save that information and make sure the authorities have it as well. Reports, pictures and witness statements will help your medical providers understand the mechanism of injury; they will also help your personal injury lawyer evaluate your potential case.
- Contact your personal injury lawyer before it is too late. There are strict time limitations within which you must act in order to protect your rights. These time limits are complex and vary for different types of legal actions. The time limits may be shorter for certain actions or extended based on special circumstances. Your personal injury lawyer is the most qualified person to evaluate how long you have to pursue an action and whether any extensions apply. Do not attempt to interpret the laws yourself. Regardless of who caused your injury and whether it was preventable, failure to file a lawsuit within the requisite time may mean that you could be barred forever from pursuing your action.
Many people call our office after it is already too late. Either they were waiting to see how badly they were injured, they were trying to work out an amicable resolution with the at-fault party or their representative, or it just did not occur to them that their injury was caused by somebody's negligence and could have been preventable. Do not make that mistake; protect your rights and call your personal injury lawyer right away.