Accidents are inevitable. No matter how much we try to avoid them, they still happen. And when they do, the consequences can be pretty serious. If you’ve been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, you may feel confused and overwhelmed about what to do next.
Remember that you may be left with significant medical bills, lost wages, and a long road to recovery. Therefore, you need someone to hold your hand and guide you through this difficult process, and that’s where a personal injury lawyer comes in.
In this article, we’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding personal injury claims so that you can better understand how the process works.
What Is a Personal Injury Claim?
A personal injury claim is a legal process used to seek compensation for injuries or damages caused by another party.
The injured party (the “plaintiff“) files a civil lawsuit against the other party (the “defendant“), alleging that they are liable for the damages.
A personal injury will only be considered if the plaintiff can prove that the defendant’s negligence or wrongdoing led to the accident, resulting in injuries.
If successful, the plaintiff may be awarded compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain, and suffering, and other damages.
What Are the Steps in a Personal Injury Claim?
The first step is to contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case. They will assess your claim to see if you have a valid case, and if so, they will help you take the necessary steps to file a lawsuit.
If you decide to move forward with your claim, the next step is to file a “complaint” or “petition” with the court. This document outlines your legal claims against the defendant and asks the court to award you damages.
Once the complaint is filed, the defendant will have an opportunity to respond. They may file an “answer” admitting liability or denying responsibility. The case will then proceed through “discovery,” during which both sides can gather evidence and build their case.
This may involve taking depositions (sworn testimony given under oath), requesting documents, or conducting interrogatories (written questions that must be answered under oath).
The case will go to trial if the parties cannot reach a settlement through negotiation or mediation.
At trial, both sides will present their evidence and argument to a judge or jury, who will decide whether the plaintiff is entitled to damages and, if so, how much.
What Are Some Common Personal Injury Claims?
There are many different types of personal injury claims, but some of the most common include the following:
- Motor vehicle accidents: These typically involve car accidents, but can also include truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, and more.
- Slip and fall accidents occur when a property owner negligently fails to maintain their premises, resulting in an accident.
- Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional provides substandard care, leading to injury or death.
- Product liability: This occurs when a defective product causes injury.
What Are the Statutes of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims?
Each state has its statutes of limitations or deadlines for filing personal injury claims. In most states, the deadline is two years from the date of the accident.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule, so it’s essential to speak with a personal injury lawyer to determine the deadline in your case.
What Are Some Common Defenses to Personal Injury Claims?
There are many different defenses that can be raised in personal injury cases, but some of the most common include the following:
- Comparative negligence: This defense argues that the plaintiff is partially responsible for their own injuries.
- Contributory negligence: This defense argues that the plaintiff’s injuries were caused, at least in part, by their actions.
- Assumption of risk: This defense argues that the plaintiff knew of the risks involved in the activity that led to their injuries and proceeded anyway.
- Statute of limitations: This defense asserts that the plaintiff waited too long to file their claim and, as a result, it is no longer valid.
How Long Will the Claim Take?
Typically, personal injury cases take several months to a year or more to resolve. The length of time will depend on many factors, including the complexity of the case, the number of parties involved, and whether the case goes to trial.
How Much Will It Cost?
There is no set answer to this question because every case is different. In general, however, you can expect to pay some money upfront for filing fees and expert witnesses. You may also be responsible for paying your attorney’s hourly rate if you have retained one.
If you win your case, you may be awarded damages covering these costs. If you lose, you will likely be responsible for paying your own costs.
Should I Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?
While you are not required to hire an attorney to file a personal injury claim, it may be in your best interests to do so.
Personal injury cases can be complex and challenging. An experienced attorney will know how to navigate the legal system, build a strong case, and fight for maximum compensation.
How Do I Maximize My Settlement Amount?
Your primary objective after suffering injuries due to someone else’s negligence is to get compensation that adequately reflects the severity of what you went through.
Fortunately, you can do a few things to maximize your settlement amount. Start by getting copies of all relevant medical records and bills related to your injury. This will be the biggest factor in determining how much your claim is worth.
Other important documentation includes police reports, photos of the accident scene, and any other evidence you can find supporting your claim.
Once you have this information, you should reach out to a personal injury attorney for help. An experienced lawyer will know how to value your claim and negotiate with insurance companies to get you the best possible settlement.
Will My Case Go to Trial?
Most personal injury claims are settled out of court, but some end up going to trial. Most cases are resolved through negotiation and settlement, but if the insurance company refuses to offer a fair amount, your case may need to go to trial.
An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to advise you on whether or not taking your case to trial is likely to be successful.
Can I Sue for Pain and Suffering?
In most personal injury cases, you can sue for pain and suffering and other damages.
Pain and suffering is a type of non-economic damage that compensates you for the physical and emotional anguish you endured because of your injuries.
It is typically calculated as a multiple of your economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages.
To sue for pain and suffering, you must have documentation of the physical and emotional effects your injuries have had on you.
This can include medical records, therapy bills, and testimony from friends or family members.
If you have been injured in an accident, you may be wondering what to do next. This article has answered some of the most common questions about personal injury claims.
It is important to remember that every case is different, and you should speak with an attorney if you have specific questions about your situation. Thanks for reading!