After suffering an injury, it is important to find out how a personal injury claim works, and the usual steps involved. Every personal injury case is unique, but generally proceeds through the same sequence.
The most urgent issue is to get a full medical assessment. Many personal injury cases are associated with car accidents, with the injured transported to the hospital by emergency services. Even if you feel you are not seriously injured, it is imperative that you are evaluated by a medical professional within a short period of time. Some very serious injuries are not immediately apparent, and a closed head injury is potentially fatal. Always go to a doctor, tell the doctor you were involved in an accident (whether a car accident, slip and fall, or other injury) and have your condition evaluated. If you wait to go to the doctor, the insurance company may attempt to assert that you were not seriously injured.
Find a Personal Injury Lawyer
An injury lawyer should be contacted as early as possible after the injury occurs. To file a claim or establish the facts relevant to filing a lawsuit against a liable party, all evidence supporting the case must be collected and preserved. Any case that involves injuries that are serious, such as broken bones, head injuries, severe cuts and abrasions, or other injury that renders you unable to work is far better handled by a legal professional. Choose an attorney who will represent you on a contingency fee basis so you owe no legal fees unless your case is resolved favorably.
Your attorney will carefully review all of the facts in your case, and may call upon various types of experts, including financial experts, medical experts, accident reconstruction experts, or others. Establishing the value of your claim is a critical aspect of the process. Your attorney should review and evaluate every detail so that your claim is valued correctly. Generally, there are two types of damages that can be pursued, economic damages, and noneconomic damages. In cases of gross negligence, it may be possible to pursue punitive damages.
Evaluate the Monetary Damages
Economic damages can include the following:
- Medical bills
- Hospital bills
- Medication costs
- Ambulance bills
- Costs associated with rehabilitation
- Lost wages, now and future
- Transportation costs
- Estimated future financial losses
Noneconomic damages may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Reduced quality of life
Get a skilled personal injury lawyer working with you as early as possible after the injury occurs. There are critical actions that must be undertaken to protect your right to full compensation.
A Demand for Compensation
The majority of personal injury cases are settled without the need for trial. In some cases, the injury claim is challenged, and it is necessary to take the case to civil court for resolution. Whether liability is clear or it appears that a trial will be the only way to resolve the case, you want a seasoned trial lawyer working with you.
The fact that your lawyer has a track record of positive verdicts at trial can help to bring about a faster resolution as generally, an insurance company will try to avoid a trial. Negotiating the terms of a settlement demands a high level of skill. Choose a lawyer that knows the ropes, and who is a trial attorney, in either case. Your lawyer, after a full evaluation, will file a claim with the insurance company. This claim, or a civil lawsuit, will generally be filed after you have reached the maximum medical improvement, which could take some time.
The statute of limitations restricts the time in which an injury case can be filed, so it is crucial that your lawyer is involved as early as possible. If your case cannot be settled out of court, a lawsuit must be filed to seek justice. How long the lawsuit will take depends on many factors, such as where is the lawsuit filed? How many parties are involved? Are other lawsuits arising from the same accident also going to be filed? If so, ALL lawsuits arising from a single accident need to be “consolidated” into one big lawsuit.
All lawsuits include the discovery process, in which the information is shared between the plaintiff’s lawyer(s) and the defendant’s lawyer(s). Witnesses are deposed (questioned), and documents requested and shared, including medical records, police reports, and reports from specific experts engaged by either side. In a serious injury case, discovery can last in the range of six months, and even longer in complex cases.
If a fair settlement cannot be reached, the case will proceed to trial. Injury claims are tried in civil court in most cases. The length of the trial will vary, based upon how much evidence and testimony is presented by each side. This is when the skills of your attorney can make a significant difference. Trial preparation and the ability to present a persuasive, well-crafted case could not be more important. Ensure you are represented by a talented trial lawyer.
Your case may be settled, even mid-trial. It is not uncommon for settlement negotiations to occur during this period. Once the defense sees there is a high potential of losing the case, they may come to their senses and make an offer, or the case may be decided by a jury or judge. The jury will award damages to the victim, based upon the evidence presented in court.
Contact Jeffrey H. Penneys, Esq. for assistance in a personal injury case. You have the right to expect fair monetary damages if another party’s act of negligence led to your injuries. As a trial lawyer and aggressive litigator, as well as a lawyer with deep compassion for those he serves, you can trust that everything possible will be done to help you pursue the maximum in damages. Call now for help.