Mishaps and accidents are very common, but that does not minimize the pain and trouble that results when an injury occurs to you or your loved ones. If you have been injured and you want to proceed and fight for your legal rights, you might have a few questions about a personal injury claim, and we are here to answer them. Let us start by understanding the basics.
What is a personal injury lawsuit?
A personal injury lawsuit is a legal action taken when a person suffers an injury or harm from an accident because of someone else who is legally responsible for the injury.
The party at fault will have to pay compensation money to the injured person so that they can cover their medical bills, hospital bills, rehabilitation bills, pain, and suffering.
If the injury is an act of medical malpractice, then the personal injury attorney will have to work with the hospital attorneys and insurance companies.
When a personal injury lawyer takes your case up in court, the case is formalized. The court will then decide which party is at fault with the help of the judgment of the judge, but the majority of the cases are solved outside of court between the two parties before a lawsuit is filed.
How does a personal injury lawsuit work?
If you or your loved ones have been injured and wish to seek justice and have the party at fault held accountable, you will need to follow the following steps.
1. The plaintiff gets injured and hires a lawyer
For any personal injury lawsuit to be successful, there, of course, has to be an injury of some sort. The plaintiff has to provide proof of their injury. If the plaintiff’s damages are more than the local court’s limit, which is usually $6000 to $11000, the plaintiff should hire an attorney.
If, after consulting with the attorney, it appears that the case is solid, the lawyer will start an investigation covering different aspects, such as does the defendant has insurance or enough assets to cover a settlement.
If the investigation leads to the attorney concluding that the case is viable, contact between the attorney and client will be signed to make the partnership official. A fee will also be decided at this point.
2. A personal injury complaint is filed against the defendant
Once it is established that a solid and viable case exists, the plaintiff’s attorney will file a personal injury complaint in a civil court. The complaint is an official document that lays out the allegations of the plaintiff.
Once the complaint is filed, the plaintiff’s attorney has a month or less to find out where the defendant is and to physically deliver the complaint to the defendant in such a way that the attorney has proof of the complaint being delivered.
It is necessary to have proof as the defendant may later claim that they were not made aware of the lawsuit. The defendant will also receive a service paper that contains the day and time at which they have to appear in court.
3. The defendant will now hire an attorney
Once the defendant has received the complaint, they will have a month or so to find themselves an attorney. If the defendant has an applicable insurance policy and assets, then finding a good attorney to represent them will not be difficult.
If insurance is applicable, the defendant has to inform the insurance company about the lawsuit as quickly as they can. The insurance company will provide a lawyer in case the defendant has not yet hired one. Defense attorneys get paid whether the defendant wins or loses as they are paid at an hourly rate and not under a fee agreement.
4. Discovery period
The discovery period is a process in which both parties are allowed to ask each other for evidence, witness information, and other questions. During this stage, both parties appear in court and inform the judge about the progress of the case so that a trial date can be set. As the discovery phase proceeds, both sides will schedule question and answer sessions.
The pre-trial or discovery procedure can take up to many months, with the trial date being pushed ahead. Once the discovery phase has finished, the defendant is allowed to ask the judge to dismiss the case and argue that the plaintiff cannot win the case as the case moves nearer to the trial. The defendant party will level up their efforts. They will try to make the plaintiff party agree to a settlement, make motions and select a jury.
5. The trial begins
Once the trial begins, it will last for at least many days. At trial, the judge and jury will determine if the defendant is at fault for the plaintiff’s injury and, if yes, then how much should the defendant pay to cover the damages.
After the trial is over, either party can start an appeal process that can last for many months to years. Once the appeal processes are over, the losing defendant will have to pay the damages decided at trial.
6. The settlement should be the outcome.
Most personal injury cases are usually settled before trial. At any point in the process, the parties can agree to settle and end the case even before the complaint is filed. If you wish to take a personal injury case to court, you should discuss your situation with an attorney.
Now that you know the entire personal injury lawsuit procedure, you will know where to start. Here are a few facts you should also know about a personal injury lawsuit.
Personal injury lawsuit covers a wide spectrum of injuries, not just those caused by car accidents
Although car accidents make up a large number of personal injury cases, personal injury law is not limited to them. Personal injury law covers a wide spectrum of injuries.
It includes any instance in which a person gets injured due to the negligence or fault of another party or individual. Personal injury lawsuits also cover defective products, dog bites, injuries and accidents caused by unsafe premises, and wrongful death.
Insurance company settlement amounts are often unfair
Insurance companies try to offer as little compensation money as they can in order to protect their own interests. By accepting an unfair compensation amount or underestimating your claim, you can damage yourself financially in the long run, especially if you have been physically impaired and cannot work.
Make sure you hire an experienced lawyer.
People who are severely injured in accidents may face a financial challenge as they struggle to pay their medical bills and hospital bills and are unable to earn due to the injuries.
A personal injury attorney will understand your case and will know that physical, mental, and financial hardships due to injuries caused by the negligence of another individual are a great way to receive adequate compensation.
An experienced lawyer is key to winning a case. Hiring a personal injury attorney in Ormond Beach will relieve a lot of your burden and stress, grant you peace of mind, and allow you to focus on your health and recovery.
Compensation covers a wide spectrum of expenses
Compensation offered in personal injury cases tends to cover future and past medical bills, property damage, pain and suffering, and loss of earnings in the present and in the future.
If it is a case of wrongful death, the compensation amount will be awarded for funeral and burial expenses, loss of companionship, medical bills incurred prior to death, loss of financial support, and benefits. The compensation amount varies from case to case.
It depends on many different factors, and the best way to receive the compensation you deserve is to hire an experienced, skilled, and talented attorney who will not only help you understand how much compensation you deserve but also get the court to see how much your claim is worth.
Every case has its own characteristics
Personal injury claims differ depending on multiple factors such as the type of injury, the cause of injury, and insurance policies. This is why each personal injury case also varies in duration and if it is settled outside of court or goes to trial.
Some cases can last for a long time
Injury victims tend to accept the first offer made by insurance companies as they are faced with many medical expenses and an inability to work. But you should not be too quick in accepting their offer.
Before accepting the settlement offer, you should discuss it with your lawyer and see if the settlement is worth your claim and is in your best interest. A personal injury lawyer will know which compensation offer to accept and which do not.
Some cases are quickly settled within a few months, whereas those that go to court require at least a year or more. But if the outcome is in your favor, then the duration is worth it.
Some cases may settle before going to trial
The majority of the personal injury cases do not go to trial as they are settled out of court either through negotiations with an insurance company or through a mediation procedure. If you are looking for experienced lawyers who will strive to get you the compensation you deserve, check out our Chiumento Law, PLLC office.
Evidence is very important
In case you or your loved one is injured due to the negligence of another individual, you need to contact a lawyer quickly as time is of the essence.
The time to file a lawsuit and a claim for compensation is limited by statutes of limitations which are between two to three years. It is also very important to collect evidence immediately as evidence can be lost or tampered with by the other party in order to prove you wrong.
In order to win a case, you need as much proof as you can to support your claim. An attorney will help you gather all the required evidence and information, but you must act fast.
Some attorneys work on a contingent-fee basis
The majority of the plaintiffs cannot afford a lawyer who charges an hourly rate, especially when their wallet is strained by medical expenses. This is why some law firms and lawyers work on a contingent-fee basis which means they do not get paid unless the case is solved.
Economic damages are different from non-economic damages
Whatever funds you are awarded as a result of a personal injury trial, these funds will be known as damages. Damages cover all expenses and costs such as medical bills, transportation costs, hospital bills, lost wages, and bills for other physical or mental therapy. These are known as economic damages.
As you proceed with your case, it is very important that you keep a record and track of all your expenses related to your injury. These include medical bills, parking fees at the rehabilitation center or at the hospital, or any other expenses that you incurred due to your injury.
You should also keep track of all the time you’ve not been able to go to work. You can ask your employer to provide you with a written document. This is important as these will act as evidence for your claim and also calculate the compensation you deserve.
On the other hand non economic damages are much more difficult to define. This includes claims of pain and suffering. They include all aspects that take away the enjoyment of life. This means that your life has changed after the accident and you will have to deal with these changes for a long time.
It is important for your attorney to know the things you enjoyed doing before the accident which you no longer enjoy so that they can describe what you have lost. For example, if you have suffered an injury that has left you physically unable to perform activities you otherwise would easily perform before the accident, this would amount to a loss of enjoyment of life.
If you were a contractor and now, due to your knee injury, you are unable to pick up anything heavy, this is a severe change in your life. You can receive funds that will cover your medical bills and support you financially, but you will never be able to pick up your grandchildren. These kinds of permanent losses that take away the enjoyment of your life are known as non-economical losses and are covered under pain and suffering.
The bottom line
If you or your loved one has suffered an injury due to the negligence of another person or institution, you need to contact an attorney right away. Do not hesitate to contact a personal injury lawyer as only he can help you win the compensation you deserve.