When you’re injured in an unfortunate accident because of other people’s negligence, the whole process can be very confusing. The good thing about personal injury claim processes is that it always follows a very predictable and logical path – a step-by-step process.
The process will involve looking for and hiring a personal injury lawyer, knowing all the basic laws regarding personal injury, gathering the necessary evidence, filing the complaint, negotiating for the settlement, and if necessary, going to the courtroom.
For the most part, the steps need to be followed in order. Knowing all the basics about the development of the claim will significantly benefit the victim by providing a sense of familiarity with what is the next step and allowing the victim to plan ahead of time. Let us break down every area of claim process.
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Looking For, Hiring And Retaining A Lawyer
The first thing you have to do after you experienced an accident or after getting injured is to do your due diligence in researching or looking for a attorney. Of course, you don’t have to hire a lawyer in order to file a claim. But doing so will help you provide the necessary benefits that can significantly outweigh all the negatives in the end.
That is because all the victims of an accident who hires a personal injury lawyer will receive a massive settlement on average, lesser stress to deal with, and have an advantage over the process for the victims will have a professional working for them, knowledgeable about this kind of problems.
You can start your process by researching all the lawyers in your area. It usually starts with an online search using Google or other search engines. Once you have a list of lawyers near your place, additional research should be done.
Find out if the attorney has a good background, experience or can be trusted. You can check websites like avvo.com to know the lawyer’s website ranking. The next thing you need to do is to meet with the attorney on your list. Almost all personal injury lawyers offer a free initial consultation where they can evaluate the case, answer all the fundamental questions that the clients have, and let them know about your different options moving forward.
It is a great way to find out if the client-lawyer relationship will work out. Once you decided that you will hire a lawyer and they agreed that they would take on your case, you can now discuss all about the fees. A lot of personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis.
It means that they do not get paid unless they can get a settlement. You can also take some comfort in knowing that all personal injury lawyers will charge the same percentage; so that is one less thing you will worry about.
Statute Of Limitation
Statute of limitation for most countries usually places restrictions on how long people need to file a lawsuit after they get injured. It is to prevent people from making a claim for an injury that they received five to ten years ago. Once the statute of limitations expired, people can no longer attempt a lawsuit or file a claim.
Sending Demand Letters
Once you’ve completed and understood every step mentioned above, it is time yo get the process started. It always starts with something known in the legal world as a demand letter. It is a central focus for any personal injury claim. In this letter, the victim or the injured person will lay out their claim to the insurance company, why they need to pay them for all the damages. It includes:
Why is the person being sued legally liable or responsible?
The summary of the overall injury sustained
The medical treatments needed and the cost of every treatment
How much income will the plaintiff lost if they file the case and takes time off work?
Any damage incurred, like suffering and pain
The insurance firm can review the victim’s claim and decide whether they will pay them for all the damages or not (not paying the claims is called a denied claim). The insurance company can deny the request because:
They feel that the accident was the victim’s fault
They think that the evidence presented is not enough
They believe that the said accident did not cause the injuries incurred
Other reasons that they see fit their description of denied ones
If the insurance firm will not pay or will not pay the whole amount, then the victim and their lawyer may move to the next step of the process: filing of the case or complaint.
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Filing Of The Complaint
Filing of the complaint will give official notice to the court, as well as the defendant that a case was being filed and the plaintiff is looking for compensation for the damage incurred. Usually, a formal complaint is filed against the insurance firm; but a case can be filed against a company, a government agency, or even a private citizen. A formal complaint will list:
All the parties that were involved in the accident
The court’s jurisdiction on the case
The defendant’s claims
Evidence and facts that will support both the defendant’s claims
Demand for judgment saying how much the defendant is asking
Once the case is filed, you and the lawyer will have 30 business days to serve the complaint to the other party. The delivery of the charge needs to be done in person so that there’s a proof of receipt. It is usually done via a process server.
Once the other party received the notice that the victim has filed a case, they will have more or less 30 days to respond to that complaint. If they failed to answer that complaint, the court would give a default judgment in favor of the one who filed the case. If the defendant responds (which they usually do), then the case will continue as usual.