Q: My daughter was seriously hurt on our neighbor’s swing set. What should I do?
A: Without knowing the exact circumstances and the nature of the injuries, that’s difficult to answer. Sometimes accidents happen and people get hurt, but no one is really to blame. However, if the swing set was defective in its design or if it was assembled improperly, you may have a claim against the manufacturer or installer. The most important thing, however, is to have your daughter evaluated by her pediatrician. Once you know the extent of her injuries and understand how the accident happened, you’ll be in a better position to determine if you want to make a claim. Also, take a photograph of the equipment and contact any witness, as that would be very helpful. Then, if you decide you want to proceed, an attorney can help guide you through the legal process and protect your interests.
Q: I was involved in a car accident and my neck really hurts. How much is my case worth?
A: The value of your case depends on the liability of the other driver, and what a jury would determine is a fair and reasonable amount to compensate you for your pain and suffering. Factors that determine your pain and suffering include the type and cost of the medical treatment, lost wages and permanent physical and mental impairments. It’s impossible to determine the value of your case until you’ve received the appropriate medical treatment and your injuries are resolved, and you are at “maximum medical improvement.”
Q: I was in a car accident but the person who hit me left the scene before the police came. What should I do?
A: If you have not already reported your accident to the police and your insurance company, do so immediately. It is important to have an official record of what happened. If you were able to get a license plate number, that would be especially helpful to track down the other driver’s insurance company. In the event that you did not, your insurance company needs to be apprised of the fact that you may have an uninsured motorist claim. Once you’ve notified the authorities, get a thorough check up from your physician. While you may feel fine right after the accident, it is not uncommon to have symptoms even days later. And lastly, get an attorney who will work for you and your interests. The entire process can be overwhelming. Getting good medical care and reimbursement for the damage to your vehicle are your priorities. Your attorney will make certain that you get everything you deserve.
Q: I have been involved in a car accident and my car was hardly damaged. Why do I feel so much pain?
A: Due to advances that car manufacturers have made in construction, a car can withstand the force of a low-speed collision showing little or no property damage. While the auto may be built to withstand a low impact collision, our bodies are not. The most typical bodily injury is a soft tissue injury. The back and neck experience pain, sometimes as late as 24-72 hours or more following the impact, as the muscles tighten. The neck of a driver or passenger will be caused to whip forward causing a whiplash injury. Typical soft tissue injuries are contusions (bruising), sprains or strains. It is very important to seek medical attention. Even if your car had little or no damage, if you feel pain you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible so that you are sure to protect your rights. Not protecting yourself can cause thousands of dollars and untold hours of non-reimbursed pain and suffering.
Q: I was on a bus and it got into an accident. The bus company paid for my doctor, and they’ll give me $1500 if I sign a paper saying that I’m OK. I don’t think it’s a good idea. What should I do?
A: Trust your instincts and don’t sign anything until you speak with an attorney. The bus company wants you to sign a release; once you do, you can never get any money from them, even if you find out that the accident caused a serious injury matters and can prepare reports to help your case. At this point, the best thing you can do is get good medical treatment so you get well and find a good personal injury attorney, so you get everything you deserve.
Q: I was in a car accident last week and since I felt O.K. I didn’t go to the doctor. Now I can barely turn my neck, I’m getting headaches and I wake up really stiff. What can I do?
A: If you haven’t already reported the accident to the police and your insurance company, do so immediately. It’s very important to have an official record of what happened. As far as a delayed reaction to pain goes, that is very common, especially with soft tissue injuries. While minor injuries heal on their own, others do not and can get worse over time. That’s why it’s imperative to see a doctor who can assess your injuries and make certain that you get the appropriate treatment. It’s a good idea to consult with an attorney, who will ensure that you get the compensation you deserve for everything: the damage to your vehicle, lost wages, medical bill reimbursement and payment for pain and suffering.