Accidents can cause substantial devastation beyond physical injury. For instance, if you fall and hurt your back, your recovery will be difficult if you live alone, you’ll have to take time off work and lose pay, or your settlement money runs out too soon. Not every challenge can be avoided, but they can be mitigated with the following tips:
1. Don’t accept a settlement offer without consulting a lawyer
If you confront a person or business after suffering an accident on their property, they might ask you to settle for a specific dollar amount. Most likely, this offer will come from their insurance company. Insurance companies are for-profit corporations and will negotiate in their best interest by offering you the lowest possible amount of compensation. You might be able to negotiate a higher settlement, but that doesn’t mean it will be fair and it may not cover all of your expenses.
Before accepting a settlement offer from anyone, including a business, consult an accident lawyer. If you accept an offer that turns out to be unfair, you could lose your right to sue.
2. Document everything, even if it seems insignificant
When you’ve been involved in an accident, the best thing you can do is document everything. Especially if your accident took place on someone else’s property, like a business. For instance, say you tripped while walking up a couple of concrete steps because of a crack that caught your toe. How long have those steps been cracked? Has it been getting worse over time? Did you previously tell the business owner the steps are a hazard? All of this information is important, and can make or break your case, depending on where you live.
While some states don’t require you to prove negligence, other states require strict proof that negligence played a part in your accident. For example, in Florida, Statute 768.0755 says you must prove that a business establishment had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and should have corrected it. This puts the burden of proof on you and makes it harder to win without a lawyer.
Unless you have a recorded or written statement from the business acknowledging the danger, proving actual knowledge is tough. According to Englander Peebles, constructive knowledge is easier to prove. For example, you might be able to provide circumstantial evidence that the dangerous condition has existed for a long time and the business should have known about it. That’s why you need to document everything.
3. Hire help if you need it
Hiring someone to help you around the house while you recover might seem like an unnecessary expense, but it’s worth looking into. Having help will prevent you from doing things that worsen your injuries.
If you aren’t supposed to stand for long, have someone do your dishes, laundry, and perform basic cleaning tasks to keep your house livable while you recover. Dealing with an injury is stressful enough; you don’t need to add more stress with a messy house.
Also, if your injuries would be worsened in even the slightest fender bender, avoid driving unless absolutely necessary. You don’t need to hire a chauffeur. Ask for help from friends, family, and neighbors. See if your grocery store delivers, or ask someone to help you stock up on food for a few weeks at a time. Try not to eat canned food while you recover. It’s easier but your body needs good nutrition to aid in your recovery.
4. Find supplemental work online
You’ll need to take time off work to recover, and if you don’t have short-term disability insurance, you’ll be without a paycheck until your doctor clears you to go back to work. Even having short-term disability insurance won’t provide you with the pay you’re used to.
If you can find small, part-time gigs online, even if it’s taking surveys, do it. Try these sites suggested by Forbes.com. No amount of income is too little to make a difference. Generating just fifty dollars a month can cover a portion of your phone bill, electricity bill, or you can use it to pay for help around the house.
Stay focused on healing
Perhaps the biggest challenge is allowing the healing process to happen on its own time. It may be a slow and painful road. You won’t know until you get through it. The key to healing is staying focused on your intended outcome (healing), slow down, and know that it’s okay to ask for help.