Accidents can happen anytime and at any place. When they do, they can cause a lot of devastation to the person in the accident and their loved ones. The good news is that you may recover your damages by filing a personal injury claim, especially if you sustain injuries because of the negligent actions of another person.
However, the process of filing a personal injury claim may seem complicated, especially because most people only think of learning about it when they are involved in an accident; however, once you hire a lawyer, it may be easier than you think.
First Things First
Assuming you have done the basics, such as getting medical help, collecting the evidence at the accident scene, and every other relevant piece of evidence like the police report, the next step will be filing the claim.
It is essential to understand that different states have different statutes of limitations, so you will need to be sure you file your case within your state’s statute of limitations to avoid losing your right to compensation.
Why You Should Hire a Lawyer
If your injuries are severe, the first step should be hiring a personal injury attorney. Claims involving severe injuries can get complicated and having a lawyer on your case can significantly increase the likelihood of a full and fair settlement. You do not have to worry about the cost of hiring a lawyer when filing a personal injury claim; you only pay them when they win your case and you recover your damages.
Once you have a lawyer on your case, the next step is to serve the defendant with a complaint notifying them of your intentions to file for damages and the basis of your claim. After that, the defendant must respond within 21 days. When responding to a claim, the defendant has three options: admit the charges, deny the charges, or petition the court to throw out the claim.
Pre-Trial Or Negotiations Stage
After the defendant responds to the claim, the pre-trial process begins. The first part of this process is the discovery process, where legal teams from both sides share the evidence needed by both parties to prepare their arguments. At this stage, both sides may schedule depositions to gather information and size up the other party’s case.
At the end of the depositions, the defendant can use the evidence to petition the court to throw out the case. Alternatively, if they feel that the case has some weight, they may opt to start engaging the claimant for an out-of-court settlement. Parties often resolve their claims at this stage. “Settling out of court allows both parties to eliminate the uncertainties of going to trial,” cites Jon Ostroff, a Pennsylvania-based personal injury attorney.
If the parties agree in the pre-trial stage, the defendant pays out the claimant and signs the release forms. If they cannot agree, the case goes to trial, where the judge or the jury makes a guilty or not guilty verdict based on the available evidence.
If the defendant is found guilty, the judge will decide on the amount of compensation payable to the claimant, and the claimant signs a release document upon settlement.