Recovering after an accident requires more than just medical care. You could be suffering from emotional trauma without realizing it. Emotional trauma can be just as devastating as physical trauma, especially if you end up with PTSD. Sometimes emotional injuries outlast the physical.
If you’ve been injured in an accident, take your time healing and consider the following advice:
Don’t feel guilty about pursuing compensation
You may have heard about frivolous lawsuits and don’t want to be one of those people. For example, most people know about the 1994 case where a woman named Stella Liebeck sued McDonald’s after spilling a cup of hot coffee in her lap. At first, the case appeared to be nothing more than a get rich quick scheme.
When details surfaced on the internet more than a decade later, the world finally saw the real story. The woman was 81 years old, suffered third degree burns over 6% of her body, and she only sued for $20,000. McDonald’s refused to settle and the case went to trial. The jury awarded Liebeck $2.7 million, which was reduced to $600,000 on appeal.
Thanks to this lawsuit, Americans have a reputation for being litigious and filing frivolous lawsuits, but that’s not actually true. Data published by the Center for Justice and Democracy shows that only 10% of injured people file a claim for compensation and only 2% file lawsuits.
Just like Liebeck, if you’ve been injured, you deserve compensation for your injuries. If someone else caused your injuries, it’s only fair to hold them responsible for negligence. Filing a personal injury lawsuit for a legitimate injury isn’t frivolous.
The type of injury you sustained won’t impact your ability to file a lawsuit, but it will impact the amount of compensation you’ll be awarded. You have a right to file a lawsuit, even if your injuries heal in a couple of months and you’re able to work the whole time. The insurance company, judge, or jury will adjust your compensation accordingly.
Recover the maximum compensation you’re owed
You need all the compensation you can legally get. Hospital bills will add up and you might end up with long-term needs for your injury like physical therapy or even counseling.
Money won’t heal your injuries, but it will pay your medical bills and put food on the table while you recover. If you’re working with a lawyer (don’t try to negotiate alone), you’ll see some big numbers in your settlement offers. Don’t let those big numbers intimidate you into believing you don’t deserve all of it. Accept the highest offer you possibly can at the advice of your lawyer. Don’t, however, accept the first offer thrown at you without a lawyer’s advice.
Lawyers know the amount of compensation appropriate for your injuries and will fight on your behalf to get you the maximum compensation possible. For instance, you may be entitled to non-monetary damages like pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life. These are damages insurance companies won’t generally consider without the pressure of speaking to a lawyer.
Be grateful that you’re alive
The most important component to your healing journey is to be grateful that you’re alive. Your accident could have been much worse. If you’re working with a lawyer, you’re in better shape than many people who unfortunately don’t survive catastrophic accidents.
Get into counseling quickly
Many people regret not getting into counseling directly following an accident. At the time, they felt okay enough to skip counseling and handle their emotions on their own. For small accidents, that’s usually okay. However, if your accident was severe, your brain may have suppressed the emotional trauma and counseling can help you sort it out.
Worst case scenario, you go into counseling for a month or two and realize you don’t need it. However, don’t discount therapy so soon. If you were in a car accident, you might develop a fear of driving and a counselor can help you work through the fear with techniques like systematic desensitization. You’ll only make life harder by avoiding driving (or any other daily activity) for the rest of your life.
It’s tempting to stay mad at the person who caused your injury, but unless it was intentional, they probably feel horrible. Don’t harbor feelings of resent or anger toward them – it will only make you feel worse. Once you’re healed and your injury claims are settled, you’ll never have to think about them again.