Once you’ve been injured through the negligence of somebody else, various rights immediately arise. Whether you exercise those rights is up to you, but if you fail to exercise them within a certain period of time, you can be forever barred from seeking compensation for your injuries. Here is an overview of your rights.
Right to medical treatment
If for example, you’re stopped at a stop light and rear-ended and injured, you have to seek and obtain reasonable medical treatment in connection with the injuries you claim resulted from the accident. What might constitute reasonable medical treatment is arguable. You almost certainly have the right to be transported by ambulance to an emergency room to be examined and treated. Should emergency room personnel believe it’s necessary for you to be examined by a specialist, that’s also likely to fall within the realm of reasonability. Should that specialist decide to treat you, submitting to that treatment probably isn’t unreasonable.
Right to an attorney
Its unequivocal that after an accident like the one described above, you have the right to retain an attorney of your choice to represent you against the party that rear-ended you. That’s fundamental constitutional law. For several reasons, it’s probably best to retain that attorney sooner rather than later.
Right to bring a claim
With regard to the damages you sustained, you have to bring an insurance claim against the person that rear-ended you. Those damages might include property damage, medical bills, lost earnings, pain and suffering and any permanent disfigurement or disability. Future care and treatment and lost earnings might also be claimed.
Right to bring a lawsuit
Unless you’re in a no-fault insurance state, you have the right to immediately bring a lawsuit against the party you believe is liable for the accident and resulting damages. Different rules apply in no-fault states as a threshold of damages must first be exceeded. Bringing that lawsuit triggers various procedural rights that you have. These rights can get complicated. They’re best explained by your attorney. Each state has its own laws on when an injury case can be brought. They vary from one to three years from the date of accident. There are some exceptions to this rule that can operate to the favor of either side.
Right to settle your case
If an offer of settlement is made that you feel is fair and reasonable, you have the right to settle your case, even if your attorney recommends against it. Pursuant to the law that governs your attorney’s conduct, that attorney is required to settle your case in accordance with the terms offered if so directed by you.
Right to a trial
Should your case not settle, you have the right to a trial on the liability and damages issues in the case. A trial consists of a jury trial where 12 people determine liability and a damages award, or a bench trial where a judge alone hears the case and decides on liability and damages. Different states have different rules as to when the right to a jury trial can be invoked in an injury case.
Right to an appeal
The law provides you with the right to an appeal of your case if an allegedly appealable error exists in the trial court. Notice of the appeal must be filed and served in a timely fashion. The appellate court might reverse a trial court ruling and send the case back for further proceedings. It might rule against you too.
Only an experienced injury attorney is fully aware of all of the rights that arise the instant that you’re injured through the negligence of somebody else. Decisions on invoking various other rights might arise during the course of an insurance claim or litigation.