A Walk Through the Personal Injury Claims Process
If you suffered severe injuries due to another person’s negligence, you have a legal right to seek compensation for your losses. To do so, you can file a personal injury claim through an insurance claim or civil lawsuit.
What are personal injury claims? A personal injury claim is a civil legal action that lets you recover compensatory damages from the at-fault party. Let's look at the personal injury claims process to understand how it works and what you can do to protect your rights.
Understanding the Personal Injury Claims Process
The process of a personal injury claim differs based on the circumstances of your injury. For example, if your injury occurred in a car accident, the process is different than if you suffered a slip and fall accident in a retail store. However, most personal injury claims follow a similar process, as outlined below.
Filing a Claim With the Insurance Company
You can file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance carrier when you are in a car or truck accident. You could also file a claim under your personal injury protection (PIP) or uninsured motorist coverage.
For injuries on someone else’s property, you may seek compensation through the property owner’s liability insurance. If the property is the site of a business, you could file against the company’s liability insurance carrier.
Documenting Your Evidence of Damages
To seek compensation through a personal injury claim, you must prove that someone else's negligence caused your injury. Document the accident scene and your injuries as potential future evidence to support your legal claim for damages. Damages you could seek include:
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Emotional anguish
A personal injury attorney can help you gather the necessary evidence to prove damages in your injury claim. Such evidence may include medical bills and records, pay stubs, and expert testimony.
Making an Initial Demand for Settlement From the Responsible Party
In addition to filing an insurance claim, it may be in your best interest to prepare for a personal injury lawsuit. An initial settlement demand:
- Outlines the circumstances of your accident
- Provides evidence of fault
- Establishes the value of your damages
- States the amount of compensation you expect to receive
As the claimant, you send a demand letter to the responsible party and their insurance company. The letter serves as notice that you intend to file a lawsuit unless they meet your settlement demands by a specific date. If they do not respond or their counteroffer is inadequate, you can continue negotiations or file a personal injury lawsuit.
Negotiating a Fair Settlement Out of Court or Filing a Lawsuit
Once the opposing party receives your demand letter, they may accept, ignore, deny, or counter your demand. Their response will determine your next steps. If they are negotiating in good faith, you can try to establish a fair settlement agreement that covers the full value of your losses.
Whether or not the other party negotiates, it may still be wise to file a personal injury lawsuit. You can still complete negotiations out of court without going to trial. By filing a personal injury lawsuit, you encourage the other party to settle rather than spend time and money fighting the claim in court.
Proving Negligence in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you file a personal injury lawsuit, you must prove that the responsible party was negligent in their duty of care. For instance, a retail business owner has a duty to maintain clear aisles and walkways. Failure to do so could be deemed negligent.
You must also prove that they violated that duty and you suffered injury as a result. For example, you tripped on a box in the aisle and injured your hip.
Finally, your evidence must show that the injuries caused you to suffer actual losses, such as hospital bills, lost income, or pain and suffering.
A personal injury attorney can help you prove negligence and negotiate with the opposing party.
The Trial Process and Jury Verdict
Many personal injury lawsuits settle before the case goes to trial. However, the other party may decide to go to trial if there are multiple at-fault parties or other complications.
If your case goes to trial, you must prove to a jury that your injuries were due to the at-fault party’s negligent or reckless actions. The civil trial process generally goes as follows:
- Official complaint: You file an official complaint with the court. You serve a copy of this official complaint to the at-fault party, their insurance company, and anyone else named in the lawsuit.
- Discovery: All parties conduct investigations and exchange evidence, including witness information and documents. You, the other parties, and witnesses may give a deposition in which you answer questions under oath.
- Motions: Each side files motions to request specific actions from the court for evidence and trial procedures.
- Trial: The jury reviews the evidence and hears arguments from both sides. They determine who is at fault, whether damages are owed, and how much those damages should be.
While some states let you represent yourself in a personal injury lawsuit, you benefit from working with a skilled personal injury lawyer.
An attorney familiar with car accidents, premises liability, and other types of injury claims can guide you through the process and help you pursue maximum financial recovery.
The Importance of the Statute of Limitations
Every state has a different deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit. The time differs depending on your situation, so it is best to work with an attorney with knowledge of injury laws in your state.
If you fail to file your lawsuit within the statute of limitations, you could lose the chance to seek compensation for your losses. Certain circumstances may allow you to seek an extension, so consult with a lawyer even if you believe the deadline has passed.
Work With a Compassionate and Experienced Attorney
When you experience injury or illness because of someone else’s actions, you should not have to pay for the losses you endure. The personal injury lawyers at Daniels Law understand the difficulties you could face after an injury that was not your fault.
Our compassionate attorneys can provide personalized representation to help you seek the compensation you deserve. Contact Daniels Law today for a free personal injury consultation. One of our dedicated injury attorneys will review your case and help you decide how to proceed.