Personal injury law covers a wide range of accidents, with no two cases ever being the same. These cases can include car accidents, slip and fall at stores, churches, and work sites, injuries caused by a defective product, being hit by a police car, being hit by a school bus, and even the mistakes by doctors or medical staff. The validity of your lawsuit depends on a number of things, including the severity of the resulting injuries, who was at fault and whether or not the incident is covered under an insurance policy.
Determine if You Have Grounds for a Lawsuit
If you have been injured because of another’s negligence, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. Often the other party’s insurance provider will offer to pay for medical bills as well as a cash settlement. This can often be a much lower offer than the amount you should be compensated. In fact, you can almost assume that the first offer by an insurance company will be a “lowball” offer. Since so many people accept these offers without thinking about them, the insurance company will probably try to offer you the smallest amount they believe you will take.
Though you may receive a settlement offer from an insurance company, you are by no means required to take it. Rather, you can choose to file a personal injury lawsuit to ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries.
If you believe you have grounds for a lawsuit, the first thing you should do is talk to a personal injury attorney. Most personal injury attorneys offer free initial consultations in which you will discuss your case and determine what legal options are available to you. They will then help you file the necessary paperwork on time as well as begin building your case.
Insurance and Personal Injury
No matter what type of injury you have sustained, if you believe someone else is at fault you will want to see if the responsible party has insurance that will cover your claim. If that person does not have insurance, you may have to file a personal injury suit to gain compensation for your damages. If the at-fault party does have insurance, that policy might cover your claim, resulting in no need for litigation. If the policy does not fully cover the incident, you may need to seek additional compensation through a personal injury suit. If your injuries are not severe and your claim is not substantial, it may serve you better to negotiate with the other party’s insurance company before jumping into a lawsuit.
If your injuries are significant and it is clearly proven that the other party is at fault, you may want to proceed with a suit anyway, even if the at-fault party is covered by an insurance policy. A suit can ensure that you receive fair compensation from the insurance company.
Filing a Lawsuit
The majority of personal injury cases never make it to court. In fact, many cases reach settlement before the lawsuit is even filed. You can file a “third-party claim” against the at-fault party’s insurance provider. If settlement negotiations break down, you can always take the personal injury lawsuit route. You would start by filing your complaint at the local branch of your state’s civil court. It is important to keep in mind that each state has its own time limits on filing a personal injury lawsuit after an accident. You do not want to wait around and miss your chance to file your claim.
It is extremely important to gather evidence when filing a lawsuit. You will want to gather evidence of your injury, including pictures and medical reports, as well as police reports, photos of the accident scene, and any other documents related to the accident and your damages.
Engage a Personal Injury Attorney
It is in your best interest to at least discuss your case with a personal injury attorney. You should do this as soon as possible, considering state statute of limitations on filing. A personal injury attorney will be able to tell you if your case has enough merit to warrant a lawsuit or if it is best handled a different way. If you and your lawyer do decide to pursue a personal injury suit your attorney will outline your legal options. If the insurance company or the at-fault party refuses to negotiate, your attorney can handle the subsequent communications and leverage your position for maximum compensation.
Most personal injury cases feature complex legal issues. These are not something the average person can navigate on their own. If you are facing high medical bills, pain and suffering, or other damages from an accident that was the fault of another person, you need the help of an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorney. Your attorney will help you gather evidence, prepare for trial, negotiate settlements and even represent you in court.