When you suffer an injury, your first priority likely is seeking medical attention. Your next step should be to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss what happened and explore the possibility of making any personal injury claims. Even if you have some doubts about whether you might be able to file a claim, you should consult an experienced personal injury lawyer to get your case evaluated.
The personal injury claims process can be confusing or even a little scary. You may say, “Does my incident qualify as a personal injury claim?” or “This seems messy. I don’t even know where to start.” The personal injury team at Wilson, Reives & Silverman have put together a “Top 10” list of information to keep track of if you think you have a claim for personal injuries. We recommend that you purchase a three-ring binder with dividers to keep all of this information together. Bringing a well organized binder to your initial consultation will go a long way in helping to move your case forward efficiently.
#1: Past, current and future valued medical expenses
If you’ve been injured, you may have already paid some medical bills. Those medical expenses (now considered “past”), your current outstanding medical expenses and your future medical expenses are all costs that could be covered by a personal injury claim. Future medical expenses will need to be proved, which can be done through the documented opinion of your treating doctor. Medical expenses can include medical treatment, psychological care, medication and physical therapy.
It is vitally important that you lay out the facts of how your injury occurred to all medical providers you see for treatment. Solid records that document how the injury occurred and the diagnosis of injuries will help set the groundwork for proving your claim.
#2: Photographic Evidence and Witnesses
Today, most people have a cellular device with them almost all of the time. Take advantage of having this device with you and take photographs of the scene where you were hurt. Make notes regarding the name, address and contact information of any witnesses to your injury.
#3: Any time lost from work, including time spent at doctor visits or physical therapist appointments
When filing personal injury claims, time lost from work can begin as soon as the injury is sustained. If you’ve missed any time from work, you meet this criteria — time spent at the emergency room, undergoing physical therapy or attending any medical specialist appointments can all be included in your claim. To calculate your income lost from work due to the injury, keep track of the hours you spent not working. To prove the lost income, you will need your employer to verify your hourly rate and the hours you lost.
#4: Any changes to your future earning ability due to your injury
A claim for damages resulting from a personal injury may include the loss of future earnings. Factors included in determining how your personal injury has changed your future earning potential include:
- your age and health
- professional skills, talents and training you’ve acquired
- the nature and extent of employment
- value of services provided
- disability affecting earning capacity
Even if you were not working at the time of your injury, you may still have a claim for loss of future earnings .
#5: Any damaged property, including your vehicle
When it comes to personal injury claims, damaged or lost property are strictly tangible losses, so if you’re in a car accident and need a new car (or repairs to your car), be sure to track the receipts. If you lose jewelry, electronics or other valuables during the injury, collect those receipts or repair/replacement cost estimates so they can be included in your claim. This is an area where photographic evidence will also be a big plus in helping to prove your claim.
#6: Any permanent disability or disfigurement
Scarring or other changes to your physical appearance due to a personal injury usually constitute disability or disfigurement in a personal injury claim. Be sure to take photos here as well from different angles to document the changes.
#7: The cost of hiring someone to perform household and caregiving chores if you are unable to perform them
If you need to hire someone to help you continue your day-to-day routines after your injury — from grocery shopping to assistance with personal hygiene — call a personal injury lawyer. These expenses are a result of an injury you sustained because of someone else’s actions or negligence, and you may be able to recover your payment for these services if you did not need them before your injury.
#8: Your physical pain and emotional suffering
Being injured often results in physical pain and emotional suffering that can lead to “emotional distress,” a term that covers the variety of anguish a person can experience during and after an injury. You could experience:
- Physical pain – Any type of pain can cause distress, from sporadic, sharp pain to dull, constant, throbbing pain.
- Emotional disorders – Depression, anxiety, insomnia, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other emotional disorders that you didn’t experience previously could become ongoing issues following an injury.
- Physical limitations – Physical limitations can impair your ability to perform your job duties or household functions. Physical limitations could also affect your emotional bonding with your loved ones. Recovery is available for loss of consortium, which is the legal term for the loss of the ability to be affectionate or sexually intimate with a partner.
In personal injury claims, recovery for pain and suffering could include current pain and suffering, which is the emotional distress you suffered from the time of the injury through the end of treatment, as well as future pain and suffering, which is indefinite and includes any of the distress that’s anticipated even after you finish receiving medical treatment.
This is a complicated aspect of personal injury claims, and the qualified attorneys at Wilson, Reives & Silverman can help you articulate and identify the pain and emotional suffering that you have experienced as a result of your injury.
#9: Funeral expenses
The average funeral costs between $7,000 and $10,000; unexpected funeral costs can be a financial burden for the family and friends of the deceased. If your loved one died from injuries sustained due to someone else’s actions or negligence, you could recover the cost of the funeral expenses.
#10: Other costs that are a direct result of your injury
Every personal injury case is different, so you could incur costs from your injury that are unique to you. Examples of these costs include:
- Acquiring proof for your case, such as costs for expert witnesses and investigators
- Over-the-counter medicine (already mentioned in Medical Expenses)
- Loss of educational opportunities or experiences
Ultimately, calling a personal injury lawyer is your best option to understand if and how you qualify for personal injury claims. Get your case evaluated for free by the experienced attorneys at Wilson, Reives & Silverman by calling our personal injury team at (919) 439-8872 or filling out our contact form.
 Jung Leun Kim v. Hansen, 86 N.C. App. 629, 632 (1987).