I Was Injured – What Do I Do?

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If someone physically and/or emotionally injures you, you can sue that person or company for money (called “damages”) Opens new window including: 

Medical Bills 

Ask for medical costs you’ve already paid or have been billed for – or expect to be billed for in the future – or that your insurance has paid, such as: 

  • Ambulance charges; 
  • Emergency room service; 
  • Hospital fees; 
  • X-rays; 
  • All doctors (surgeons, plastic surgeons, orthopedists, chiropractors and therapists). 
  • On-going treatment. 

Lost Wages and Benefits 

  • Ask for wages you: 

    • Did not receive; 
    • Will not receive because you need more time off because of your injuries (you’ll have estimate them based on what your doctors say). 
  • Ask for wages that were paid to you as benefits. 

    • You can ask for lost wages even if you were covered by vacation or sick leave. 

NOTE 1:  But, if your work paid you regular wages, don’t ask for them because they are true wages, not benefits. 

NOTE 2:  If you think you won’t be promoted because your injury is long term or permanent -- or you must take a lower paying job (called ‘loss of earning capacity’) – then your case probably does not belong in small claims court (which can only award damages up to $7,500) or civil limited jurisdiction court (up to $25,000).  It probably belongs in unlimited civil court (more that $25,000).  Seek the advice of an attorney to help you evaluate your case. 

Pain and Suffering

This money is to compensate you for the aches, stiffness, pain, anxieties, fears, etc., you suffer due to your injuries. 

Ask for money: 

  • For pain you have already suffered; 
  • For pain you are likely to suffer in the future. 

NOTE 1:  Sometimes it is very difficult to figure this out. For example, an injury that results in a permanent scar (such as a broken bone that broke through the skin), may only require a few visits to a doctor. However, this injury may have greater pain and suffering value than an injury that requires many visits due to a doctor or therapist (such as a deep sprain). 

NOTE 2:  If you want to sue for “pain and suffering” your case may well not belong in small claims court (which only can award damages up to $7,500).  Get advice from an attorney to help you assess your case. 

If your insurance paid the medical bills

You are allowed to collect money from the other person even if your insurance paid you, because the damage was caused by the defendant – not you. 

NOTE 1:  If you collect money from the defendant after your insurance paid the medical bills, you may have to repay your insurance company – depending on your policy.  Most insurance policies include repayment.  Read your policy or call them to find out. 

NOTE 2:  Medicare, Medi-Cal and workers’ compensation will do a lien <glossary> on whatever you recover for your medical costs to make sure that they get their money back. 

Automobile Accidents 

  • If you had no insurance
    You may not recover damages for pain and suffering or other non-money damages. 
  • If you were driving under the influence
    You may not recover damages for pain and suffering or other non-money damages.

In either of these cases, seek the advice of an attorney to help you assess your case.




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