When you get hurt in an auto accident, you are uncertain what will happen now and later on down the road. It’s understandable that you have a lot of pain, and the medical bills are beginning to pile up. It’s hard to focus on getting better. You don’t know what to do to get the entire unexpected situation under control. Whether or not you choose to hire a personal injury attorney, you will want to know these 6 important terms:

1. Statute of limitations.

Every state has a specific time limit for which you can make a claim against the party or parties who were negligent in the accident. You can ask an attorney to explain the statutes affecting your case.

2. Lost wages.

If you are unable to work for a length of time or permanently, you need to prepare careful documentation about your lost earnings. This could include the benefits and other intangibles you would have received if you hadn’t gotten hurt in the accident.

3. Negligence.

This important term refers to the person or persons who caused the accident in which you were hurt. An attorney working on your behalf can make a demand of the at-fault insurance company showing that your injuries and pain and suffering were caused by that party’s actions or failure to act.

4. Filing suit.

Many personal injury cases will eventually reach a settlement out of court, either before a trial or during a trial. Sometimes, an attorney will find it necessary to demonstrate the significance of your claim by filing a complaint in the civil courts against the at-fault party. This lawsuit makes a claim for all of your damages, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

5. Settlement offer.

As early as the days when you are still in the hospital or laid up at home recovering from serious injuries, you may be contacted by the at-fault insurance company. An adjuster may ask you to sign a settlement offer in return for a check. However, if you accept the check, you could be giving up your rights to any future claims for your accident-related damages.

6. Permanent injuries.

Some states require that you prove that your injuries from the accident are life-changing, such as permanent disfigurement of your face, an injury requiring surgery, or a permanent limp. The more severe your injuries are, generally the higher the settlement you should expect to get from the at-fault insurance company.

Once you start to get your bearings after the car accident, consider how you can protect your rights under the laws of your state. You will only have a certain number of years to pursue a claim, and you will need to collect all the evidence to make a demand from the at-fault insurance company.