What To Expect in a Personal Injury Claim Process
From car crashes to slips-and-falls, accidents can happen anytime and anywhere. These common occurrences can result in various degrees of damage, injuries, and even fatalities.
Unfortunately, victims tend to shell out huge amounts of money to recover from these injuries and damages. As an injured victim, this can be frustrating, confusing, and financially demanding.
The good news is that you may file a personal injury claim to receive compensation for the damages you experience from an accident. This settlement can cover your damage expenses, reducing the financial burden of the accident.
While claiming a settlement for injuries may seem straightforward, dealing with personal injury law requires a specific legal process that may require intensive knowledge and expertise. In this article, you will learn what personal injury law is and what to expect when filing a claim.
What is a Personal Injury Claim?
Personal injury claims often arise when an individual involved in an accident resulting from someone else’s negligence takes legal action to claim compensation for the damages. These cases can only be pursued under the following circumstances:
- If another individual causes the accident,
- If you have evidence that the other party caused the accident,or
- If the accident results in various damages, including medical expenses, property damage, lost income, emotional distress, and more.
As such, the primary goal of personal injury cases is to secure compensation that can cover the financial losses and damages incurred due to the accident.
When Do I Have a Personal Injury Claim?
Specific factors determine your eligibility to pursue a personal injury claim.
The first thing you must understand when filing a personal injury claim is that the accident should stem from another individual’s negligence. If the court finds you partly responsible for the crash, your case may be dismissed in some states, while others may reduce your settlement based on how much you contributed to the accident.
Generally, negligence in a personal injury law can be demonstrated through the following elements:
- The individual had the duty to ensure everyone’s safety.
- They neglected this duty.
- The breach of duty resulted in an accident.
- The accident caused injuries and other damages.
For example, a drunk driver hits you. Tragically, you suffered leg injuries from the crash. In this scenario, the impaired driver neglected their duty to follow the traffic laws, committing a driving under the influence (DUI) violation. As a result of their violation, they caused a collision, resulting in injuries. With this, you can say that the drunk driver’s negligence caused your accident, making them liable for the damages.
Note that when establishing negligence in a personal injury claim, you must clearly show that the accident results in injuries and other damages. If it doesn’t cause injuries or other damages, you won’t have the right to file a personal injury claim.
Aside from this, you must have evidence that the other party’s negligent actions caused the accident. If you don’t have the proof to support your case, the court will likely dismiss it.
How Are Personal Injury Claims Resolved?
Usually, personal injury claims are settled through a non-judicial process called mediation.
Mediation involves the intervention of an impartial third party, referred to as a mediator, who assists both parties in finding an acceptable resolution for all involved parties. The mediator guides discussions and supports the parties in reaching a mutually agreeable outcome.
However, your case may have complexities, such as when the insurance company delays your case or you are partially liable for the accident. In this circumstance, the claim may require trial proceedings.
Some reasons why a personal injury lawsuit may go to trial include the following:
- The insurance company of the party at fault declines to provide compensation.
- The victim’s personal injury lawyer deems the case worthy of a higher settlement than what is being negotiated with the insurance company.
- The victim’s personal injury attorney believes in the likelihood of winning the case.
- The victim thinks that the party at fault should be publicly held accountable for the damages resulting from the accident.
Remember that when resolving a personal injury claim, you must do so within the allowed time frame. Different states in the United States allow a specific number of years for a victim to file a personal injury claim. For instance, in California, you may only pursue a case within two years from the time of the accident. If this given timeframe passes, the court may reject your case.
What To Expect When Navigating a Personal Injury Claim for an Accident
Although navigating a personal injury claim process following an accident can be challenging, knowing what to anticipate helps make the process smoother. Here is what you may expect when filing a personal injury claim:
You’ll Need Sufficient Evidence to Prove Your Claim.
As mentioned, you must have the necessary evidence to justify that the accident resulted from the other party’s negligence. The court dismisses personal injury cases if it thinks the plaintiff lacks sufficient proof.
This is why you should gather evidence at the accident scene to secure your case, such as the following:
- Photos or videos of the scene
- Witness statements or their contact details
- Police report
- Medical proofs, such as billing and diagnosis
The Insurance Company Is Not Your Friend.
Contrary to popular belief, insurance companies are not always your friends. In most instances, they will try to settle as quickly as possible to avoid further damages that may arise in the future.
Let’s say a drunk driver hits you. As a result, you suffered severe back injuries from the car accident. Since the insurance company knows how expensive the medical bills associated with your injuries are, they are trying to offer an initial settlement covering your current health expenses. If you accept this, you won’t receive compensation for other future damages, such as the rehabilitation and therapy costs.
In this case, getting a lawyer for the car accident is your best option to defend your rights to just compensation. They will determine the total damages of the accident and negotiate on your behalf.
Don’t Take the Initial Settlement Offer.
As specified earlier, insurance companies typically offer settlements that hardly cover your total damage expenses.
For example, you suffered a permanent leg injury from a car accident. The insurance provider then tries to offer a settlement. Since you have a huge medical bill to take care of, they will insist that you accept it without considering future expenses like rehabilitation and costs associated with your emotional distress.
If you have a lawyer for your car accident claim, they will assess the offer and advise if you should take it or not. This way, you will be able to receive the compensation that you deserve.
You’ll Need Legal Help to Maximize Your Claim.
The reality is that you’ll need legal help to maximize your claim. If you have injuries from the accident, how will you calculate the total damages and defend your case if you are recovering?
In most cases, only personal injury lawyers can calculate the total damage by including other losses, such as non-financial damages. This is why seeking a legal expert’s help is best to maximize your claim.
If your injuries stem from an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, filing a personal injury claim is the best way to receive compensation for the damages.
However, while it may seem straightforward to file a case, personal injury law has legalities that only legal experts may know how to deal with. Your best viable option is to contact a personal injury lawyer who can help build and win your claim while you focus on your recovery.