Personal injury refers to the harm inflicted on one person due to the negligence or intent of another party. From this incident, the person who suffered the injury can seek compensation from the perpetrator for the damages incurred during the incident.
In the event of a personal injury, the damages measured are not limited to physical trauma that the body has suffered. Any mental and emotional agony that a p has experienced as a result of the incident can also be calculated in terms of monetary value and included in the demand for compensation. Some of these are medical expenses incurred to treat the victim, loss of job, impact on the reputation, future employment, and others.
If you have been a victim of personal injury, you have two options available when seeking compensation. The first is in the form of a personal injury claim, and the second is via a lawsuit. Before you decide which route to take, it is best to seek advice from a lawyer first. Our lawyers at Foyle Legal can point you in the right direction and assist you through the whole process.
What Is a Personal Injury Claim?
A personal injury claim is when an injured party attempts to collect compensation for injury and damages from an offender. The claim can be filed directly against the other party or with his insurance company, if available. However, before you can file a claim, you should have enough evidence to establish that the other person or entity is really the one who is responsible and at fault for the incident.
Once the insurance adjuster of the insurance company receives and reviews the personal injury claim from a claimant, they can either accept your claim as it is, reject it, or send you a counteroffer. Your lawyer will assist in filing the claim and negotiate with the insurance company for a reasonable settlement.
Most of the time, a personal injury claim would be filed first before it becomes a lawsuit because it is less expensive and less time-consuming compared to a lawsuit. This means that it is possible that you can get your compensation much earlier.
On the other hand, going for a quick settlement may require you to sacrifice the value of compensation, and the final amount may not be enough to cover all the expenses that you need while you are recovering. You are also at the mercy of the insurance company, and they may drag out the negotiations in hopes that you will give in and settle for a lower amount just to end the long process.
Preparing For a Personal Injury Claim
To file for a personal injury claim, you will start with a request for compensation of damages from the other party whom you have determined to be responsible for the incident. In filing for a claim, you are shouldering the burden of presenting evidence to establish the type and amount of claim. These should include estimates for any property damage and repair costs, medical records and bills, emotional and mental distress, and even employment records that show how much earnings were lost during your absence from work.
After filing, your claim will undergo a process where the insurance company will try to determine the accountability of its client. A claims adjuster will be assigned to assess the merits of the claim and will conduct supplementary investigations such as direct interviews with you and other witnesses. He will also verify any documents involved in the claim such as medical records, bills, and police reports.
An unspoken task of the insurance adjuster is to check if you are the one at fault, so he can use it as the basis for rejecting the claim. Thus, you have to check all your evidence and consult with your lawyer to make sure everything is airtight before your file your claim.
If your claim is proven to have merit, the claims adjuster will negotiate directly with you and your lawyer for an out-of-court settlement, which is also known as a pre-litigation claim. If no agreement can be reached, the claim may be forwarded to the court and your lawyer will file a personal injury lawsuit.
Defining a claim and Pre-Litigation claim
Pre-litigation is the process that occurs before any litigation is initiated. In personal injury cases, this often involves gathering information about your accident and injuries, calculating the value of your case, and preparation of legal arguments about why you should be eligible for compensation.
The first step in the process is to file a claim with the insurance company that covers the defendant. You may contact the insurance company and notify them of the accident, or your personal injury lawyer can handle this task.
For example, assume your next-door neighbor Tom calls you to see if you can come over and help him move a picnic table off his deck. You go over, and he’s waiting on the deck, which he just power washed. You each lift an end of the picnic table and carry it off the deck down some stairs. You slip on the slippery stairs, drop the picnic table, and it lands on your ankle and breaks it.
Speaking to the injured and witnesses
You can also find witnesses by returning to the site of the injury. There might be neighbors or other locals that saw an unsafe condition in the area days or weeks before your injury. Likewise, these people may have seen the other side act improperly on prior occasions. Also, they might also be able to point you to other individuals who spoke about seeing you get hurt. If you’re able to get any information about a witness like their name, you can look in online directories or on social media for full contact information.
Reviewing any medical bills and reports
As a personal injury attorney representing your client, you often wonder if the medical bills that they incur due to their injury are usual, customary, and reasonable (UCR). Like you, insurance companies also ask this question when processing a personal injury claim, which can lead to a delay or withholding of payment. The best way to resolve this dispute is often with a Medical Bill Review report.
What is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
While a personal injury claim is direct negotiation between you and the offending party and his insurance company, a lawsuit requires the involvement of the court, and the merits of the case will be reviewed by a judge or a jury. This would take a longer time to settle, which can be a very tedious process and cost you more in terms of legal fees. However, it can also get you a better compensation compared to what an insurance company would offer otherwise.
For personal injuries that involve extensive damages, or if your personal injury claim has been denied by the insurance company, a lawsuit would be your best recourse. Your lawyer would first file the case in court, after which the court will inform the other party to enable them to prepare their defense and respond accordingly. They can then choose to either settle with you directly either through negotiation, arbitration, or mediation. Or they can opt to push through with court proceedings, or the litigation.
If the case proceeds to litigation, you may be subjected to more investigation as the court and the defendant’s lawyer would request new or additional information from what was submitted during the claim. The trial itself can take anywhere from a few days to years, depending on the extent of the evidence presented and the arguments of both parties.
Complaint and Answer
Typically comprised of separate, numbered paragraphs, each containing one allegation, the complaint usually identifies:
- The specific injuries you have sustained
- The facts surrounding the injuries
- The person or entity you are suing (the “defendant”)
- The legal basis for your complaint, and
- The amount of compensation (“damages”) you intend to ask for
The litigation process
Your attorney will move quickly to file the necessary paperwork with the court that triggers the litigation process. The first paperwork filed is called the complaint, which is a review of your case against the defendant. The complaint outlines the parties involved, court jurisdiction, plaintiff claims, the facts surrounding the claim, and a demand for justice.
Additional attorney’s fees
It depends on the state of the car accident. For example, in Florida, attorneys cannot charge more than 33 1/3% of any settlement before a lawsuit.
In most car accident cases, the attorney only takes a fee on the personal injury claim. In other words, attorneys rarely charge a fee on a settlement for damage to the car. After a personal injury lawsuit, the attorney’s fee usually increases to 40%.
Costs are in addition to the lawyer fee.
To prepare yourself for an extended legal battle, it is best to work with a lawyer who can provide you with the support and expertise that you need during this time. Work together with your lawyer and present the best evidence to support your claim and you may have a better chance of winning your case.