A Pennsylvania man permanently injured in a car accident was awarded a record settlement by a Philadelphia jury. The courts found in favor of the plaintiff, Carlos Martinez, and therefore Honda Motors is required to pay a $55M settlement.
In May 2010, the lives of Mr. Martinez and his wife were forever changed when Martinez was involved in a serious car accident. A tire on the Acura Martinez was driving blew out, causing him to lose control of the car. The seat belt he was wearing did not provide him sufficient protection. As a result, Mr. Martinez suffered a severe spinal cord injury that left him permanently paralyzed from the chest down.
For more information about this accident and settlement, click on the following CBS News Philadelphia link: http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2014/06/27/jury-issues-55m-verdict-against-honda-after-crash/
Important Steps to Take If You Are Injured in a Car Accident
While after a serious car accident it is normal to focus on the immediate issue of tending to your medical needs, it is also important to focus on taking the appropriate steps to preserve your claim against the party responsible for your accident.
It is not enough to pinpoint who caused the accident. You must also provide evidence to support an award of damages. The steps you take from the minutes immediately following the accident up to when your case goes to court will be key in the determination of how much compensation you will be awarded.
- Seek Medical Help – It is important that you immediately go to the emergency room and get treatment for your injuries even if they do not seem serious. Records from your emergency room visit as well as records of treatment you receive later from other medical professionals will be important in showing the severity of your injuries. Failure to seek medical attention may not only put your health at risk, it is also an indication that you were not seriously injured, thus weakening your personal injury claim. In addition, failure to follow the treatment plan recommended by your doctor without a good reason will hurt your claim for damages.
- Take Photos – You should take photos of the accident scene as well as of your physical condition immediately after the accident. Images of your mangled vehicle will make compelling evidence of the seriousness of the accident. In addition, photos of your bruises and cuts will also be strong evidence that you were indeed injured and experienced pain. Continue to take photos to document the progress of your recovery. Date stamp the photos and keep both digital copies and hard copies. Photos often have more of an impact on a jury than verbal testimony.
- Collect Witness Information – Get the names and contact information of witnesses. Their testimony may be needed to further support your case.
- Keep Records of Treatment – Your file should include reports from each time you sought treatment or had lab work done. Such records should also include any other medical or administrative documents that you received related to your treatment.
- Keep Records of Medical Expenses – This point needs emphasis. You must keep records of all expenses related to your treatment, as part of your damage award will be out-of-pocket economic damages. This includes doctor and hospital bills, bills for medical equipment such as crutches, and bills for prescriptions. If you cannot prove an expense, the court will not award it to you. Your record of medical expenses should also include correspondence from your insurance company such as explanations of benefits.
- Gather Employment Records – Gather records that show the days of work that you missed. Make sure that you have pay stubs that prove the amount of money you were making prior to the accident. If you were on track to earn a bonus or promotion, make sure you have records that show that. This information will establish lost income.
- Keep a Journal – Take notes during and after your visits to the doctor. Document details as to how you are feeling both mentally and physically. For example, if you have a difficult time sleeping, note in your journal each time you have difficulty falling asleep. If you on occasion feel anxious or depressed, note in your journal when that happens. It is not necessary to write in your journal each day; however, it is important to write consistently. Doing so will help provide insight into your mental state. This will provide support for a pain and suffering award.
You Deserve to be Compensated
In the midst of the emotional, physical, and financial hardship faced by the Martinez family, there was some good news. Martinez sued Honda Motors based on the poorly designed seat belt. Relying on the documented extent of Martinez’s injury, a court awarded Martinez and his wife several millions of dollars in damages to compensate them for the losses they suffered as a result of the accident.
Winning a damage award in a personal injury car accident case is more complicated than it may seem. Therefore, it is critical that you take steps to ensure that you not only win your personal injury lawsuit, but to also ensure that the damages that you are awarded are maximized. Whether it was you who was injured or a loved one, contact Donaghue & Labrum to discuss your legal options. Our staff will help you and your family receive the maximum compensation you are entitled.