If you have suffered a personal injury, then your first concern will be how badly you are hurt and what you need to do to get better. Your next concern will likely be how the injury will affect your life. That is where most people will stop, but there should be a third concern: Should I file a personal injury claim? In most cases, the answer is yes.
A personal injury claim is your best chance of getting the compensation you need to take care of any injury-related expenses like medical bills or lost wages. If you are going to file a personal injury claim, then you will want to know how they work. You can find more information here because you will definitely need an experienced personal injury attorney to help you.
What Is a Personal Injury Claim?
First of all, it is helpful to know just what a personal injury claim actually is. It is when the person who suffered the personal injury—called the plaintiff in legal terms—seeks compensation from the party that is responsible for the injury—legally known as the defendant—or their insurance company. Before filing a claim, the plaintiff should hire an experienced personal injury attorney to take care of all the legal matters and begin the claims process in earnest.
The Demand Letter
The claims process starts with a demand letter, aka a demand package. With the demand letter, the plaintiff lists the reasons why the defendant, or their insurance company, must pay for their compensation. The demand letter will lay out the following points as to why the plaintiff deserves compensation:
A list of the injuries suffered by the plaintiff
How and why the defendant was responsible for those injuries
The cost of the medical treatments
Any lost wages caused by the injury
The settlement demand
If the insurance company decides to pay what you deem is a satisfactory amount, then the matter is settled. However, if they refuse to pay, or don’t pay enough, then it is time to file a complaint.
Filing a Complaint
Filing a complaint notifies the court and the defendant that the plaintiff is filing a lawsuit to get compensation for their personal injury. The complaint will list the following:
All the parties involved in the complaint
Which court has jurisdiction over the case
The legal claims of the plaintiff
Evidence to support those claims
A statement showing how much compensation the plaintiff wants
The personal injury attorney must serve the defendant the claim in person within thirty days of filing it. This is usually done by a process server. The defendant must respond to the complaint within thirty days of receiving it. If they do not respond, then the court will award the plaintiff a default judgment.
The Discovery Process
As the name suggests, this is the phase where the attorneys of the plaintiff and the defendant gather evidence to make their cases. In addition to evidence, the attorney for the plaintiff will also gather medical records, salary information, police reports, and insurance reports in order to get an idea of how much compensation the plaintiff deserves.
The Settlement Phase
This is where most personal injury claims end. The two parties decide to negotiate with each other through a process called mediation. At this point the two parties will agree to a settlement, which involves the plaintiff agreeing to drop the lawsuit in exchange for compensation from the defendant. Once the settlement amount is agreed on by both parties, it is reviewed by the court, at which point the claim is completed.
The Trial Phase
In some cases a settlement cannot be reached, should that happen, then the case will go to trial. The lawyers for the plaintiff and defendant will make their case before a judge who will render a verdict in favor of one of them. Once the judge has rendered their verdict, the losing party can either accept it or file an appeal. A trial can be long, expensive, and risky, which is why most claims end at the settlement phase.
First of All, Hire a Lawyer
The first step of any personal injury claim should be the hiring of an experienced personal injury attorney. They will be able to explain the whole process and guide you through it every step of the way. They are your best chance of coming out of the personal injury claims process with the compensation that you deserve.