Top 5 Steps of Filing a Personal Injury Claim
There is no one way to handle a personal injury case. Each case depends on a number of factors that differ from case to case. The type and severity of the injury, where the injury occurred, and the amount of insurance coverage of the parties involved. These are but a few examples of what a personal injury case is based upon.
There are, however, routine steps one can expect to encounter when filing a personal injury claim. Below are 5 of the common steps in any given personal injury case.
If a personal injury victim is serious about filing a legal claim then, at the very least, they will likely seek out guidance from a personal injury attorney. No one understands the ins and outs of personal injury law like an experienced attorney. At any given time, a personal injury attorney will be representing hundreds of cases. They know best how to value a case and what steps a victim should take to receive maximum compensation. It’s also standard practice for personal injury law firms to offer free consultations to potential clients, so victims should take advantage of the change to receive free advice.
Like any other legal case, a personal injury claim is built on a foundation of solid evidence. Common forms of evidence can include witness statements, photographs, security footage, police reports, medical bills and records, and even a victim’s employment records. The more evidence one gathers, the stronger their personal injury case will potentially become. Remember, there’s no such thing as having too much evidence.
Once a personal injury victim is finished treating for their injuries and has gathered all of the relevant evidence, a demand letter is written that accurately outlines what the personal injury claim is based upon. The demand letter will include proof of liability and list all of the damages suffered by the victim (physical injuries, medical costs, lost wages, future medical care, pain and suffering, and the general negative impact on a victim’s lifestyle and enjoyment). The demand letter is either sent to the individual or individuals responsible for the personal injury or to their insurance provider. Typically, one of three options occur after a demand letter is sent out. The demand is either accepted, denied, or a counteroffer is made.
If a counteroffer is made then the negotiations between the injured party and the at-fault party begin. Negotiations such as these are usually between insurance adjusters and personal injury attorneys. Insurance adjusters are trained to keep settlements as low as possible for the insurance companies they work for. And, likewise, personal injury attorneys are skilled at negotiating for the maximum amount of compensation for their clients. So, the job of both the insurance adjuster and the personal injury attorney is to find a settlement number they can both agree on. If both sides are unable to reach an agreement, however, then a lawsuit is the inevitable next step.
If a personal injury victim is unable to receive a settlement offer they feel adequately compensates them for their injuries and losses, then a lawsuit is the only available path left to them. Unfortunately, pursuing a lawsuit can be both time-consuming and expensive. For example, the discovery phase alone can take between 6 and 12 months to complete. Oftentimes a mediation will be called in an attempt to avoid going to trial, but if this, too, fails then the next stop will likely be in a courtroom. If a personal injury claim goes to trial, then it is common to see expert witnesses give testimony, with each likely being paid thousands of dollars in fees to give their knowledge and opinion. During the trial, the facts of the case will be presented and argued over before a judge or a jury, liability will be determined and an award will either be given to the victim or denied. Even after a trial, though, there is the possibility for appeal, which essentially starts the whole process over again.
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