Steps for Filing a Personal Injury Claim
Driving a car. Walking down rickety stairs. Walking by a dangerous dog. Most people are exposed to a number of dangerous situations on a daily basis. Fortunately, many people encounter these dangers without ending up seriously injured. If you are injured in an accident, however, it is critical that you know your rights as well as what steps should be taken to pursue compensation. To help prepare you for this situation, which hopefully never comes, the following will review some of the important steps that you should follow when filing a personal injury claim. Continue reading for steps you should take and contact our firm should you have any questions.
Decide if Your Insurance Policy Covers the Damage
If you were injured in an accident and believe that another party is responsible, you should determine if the responsible party has insurance coverage that will apply to the accident.
While determining who is responsible in a two-vehicle car accident is often easy, it can be much more difficult to decide how insurance applies if you are harmed in a slip and fall accident on public property.
In other situations, an accident victim’s own insurance policy might provide compensation, which can be a much easier solution than initiating legal action against the responsible party. In many cases, an insurance company will ask you to provide a recorded statement. After all, insurance companies are businesses, and by getting an accident victim to make incriminating statements on the record, the company can greatly decrease the value of that victim’s claim.
As a result, it is best to avoid providing a recorded statement to an insurance company and if necessary, obtain the assistance of an experienced accident attorney.
Determine Whether You Should Speak With a Lawyer
Unless your injuries were not serious and you have decided that you are able to reach satisfactory results with little to no effort, it is often a wise idea to discuss your accident with an experienced attorney. This does not mean that you will be retaining the assistance of a lawyer, however.
Many accident lawyers offer free consultations during which time the lawyer can review your various available options to obtain compensation. For most personal injury cases, it will benefit the victim to obtain the assistance of a skilled accident attorney.
When choosing an attorney, look for a lawyer who:
- Has experience handling personal injury claims or cases similar to yours
- Has won substantial verdicts and settlements in the past
- Occasionally takes cases to trial to receive an adequate amount of compensation
- Has substantial experience navigating trials
- Will be directly handling your case opposed to another lawyer at the firm
- Keeps clients up to date with the developments that occur in a case
Determine if You Should File a Lawsuit
Many accident cases result in a settlement before trial. In some situations, it is not even necessary to file a lawsuit. If you experience difficulty pursuing coverage from an insurance company, however, it is often helpful to obtain the assistance of an experienced accident attorney.
While a settlement refers to the process during which you and your attorney agree to the terms offered by the other side out of court, it is not always possible to resolve matters in this way.
You and your attorney might feel that the party responsible for causing the accident is not offering an adequate settlement amount. If this is the case, it might be necessary to pursue a trial, which can extend the amount of time you will wait for compensation from months to years.
Because trials are often complex, it is critical to obtain the assistance of an accident attorney who has experience navigating these matters. The process of filing a lawsuit or personal injury claim against the party responsible for causing an accident includes the following steps:
- Summons and Complaint. Personal injury lawsuits commence with the filing of a document with a court of law and serving papers on the party responsible for the accident. A complaint will be created, which explains how the accident occurred as well as the legal theories through which the accident victim will pursue compensation. During the filing of a complaint, you will also be required to pay a filing fee. In addition to filing a complaint with a court of law, you will be required to “serve” a copy on the responsible party.
- Service of Process. This phrase refers to serving the party responsible for an accident with a summons and complaint. In many cases, a professional company or a law enforcement officer will serve the party. The process of service must occur within a specific and narrow time period of filing a complaint with a court of law.
- The importance of statute of limitations. Personal injury lawsuits must be initiated within a specific statute of limitations. If a person attempts to file a lawsuit outside this amount of time, a person will not be able to bring a lawsuit.
- Response to a complaint. After filing a summons and complaint with a court of law and serving the documents on a defendant, the defendant is then given time to respond to a complaint. A defendant is able to either file an answer or a motion to dismiss. As part of an answer, the responsible party will address each of the victim’s claims that are listed in the complaint and admit or deny each. A party responsible for an accident can also file a motion to dismiss. If this motion is granted, a court can throw out an entire complaint or merely a portion of it.
Speak with an Experienced Accident & Personal Injury Claims Attorney
The consequences of an accident can be overwhelming. Many victims are left facing large medical bills, lost wages, and a number of other complications. To make matters worse, navigating the various channels to pursue compensation is complex.