The Personal Injury Lawsuit Process
Once you have been injured by someone else, you have likely already begun the personal injury lawsuit process. Knowing you may have a legal claim should push you forward to:
Notify The Insurance Company
If you were hurt in an accident caused by another individual’s carelessness or recklessness, your first option is to turn to the responsible person’s insurance company. It rests on your shoulders to notify the insurer of the accident, your injuries, and a forthcoming claim. Many personal injury claims are settled by the individual’s insurance carrier. However, it can take years to reach a fair agreement. It is also possible that the insurer will fight your claim, attempting to deny responsibility or make lowball offers.
Hire An Attorney
Once you have been injured and notified the relevant insurance company about the accident, then your next step should be to find an attorney. Insurers do not always play fair. Their main goal is to save themselves money, which means they will hunt for reasons to deny your claim or limit your compensation. A lawyer can protect you from an insurer’s bad faith or aggressive practices and seek to protect your rights and obtain the maximum compensation for your injuries.
Gather Evidence To Support Your Claim
While the insurance company will conduct its own investigation into the accident, your attorney can investigate independently on your behalf. Your attorney may find evidence the insurance company overlooks or may view evidence in a different light than the insurer. This can help you build a stronger case or better address weaknesses.
Attempt To Negotiate A Personal Injury Claim Settlement
Once the insurer and your attorney have had time to investigate the accident, you may receive a settlement offer. The first offer from an insurance company is often low and there is usually considerable room to negotiate for a higher amount.
If you and the insurance company do not see eye-to-eye right away on a settlement amount, you or the insurer may request mediation. This is a type of alternative dispute resolution and is not a trial. You and your attorney and the insurer’s representatives will meet with a neutral third party in one or multiple sessions. The mediator does not make any decisions and is only there to guide the discussion. During these sessions, each side presents their arguments until a settlement agreement is reached – or not.
• Filing A Personal Injury Lawsuit
The appropriate time to file a personal injury lawsuit depends on your exact circumstances. In some situations, your attorney will advise filing the suit if settlement negotiations fail. However, your lawyer may recommend filing the lawsuit earlier, such as during the claim investigation, because the legal discovery process can enable you to gather more information. Filing suit can enable you to learn more about what caused the accident, which may bolster your claim for compensation.
Utilize The Discovery Process
After you file a personal injury lawsuit, you and the defendant, which will be the responsible individual represented by the insurance company, have the opportunity to utilize the discovery process to gather evidence. During discovery, each side can ask the other to answer questions, provide records, and give depositions. This may provide you information that supports your claim, prove the other individual’s fault, and enable you to ask for a greater amount of compensation.
Continue Settlement Negotiations
Filing a personal injury claim lawsuit does not mean your case will go to trial. Settlement negotiations can continue until the time of the jury’s verdict and ultimately, most personal injury claims settle short of trial.
Go To Trial
If you and the insurer do not come to an agreement, then you and your attorney may decide to proceed with trial. By trial arrives, you will be thoroughly prepared. You and your attorney will have thoroughly investigated your situation, hired expert witnesses to testify on your behalf, and prepared the case. While the trial may be a new experience, none of the information presented should come as a surprise. Once your attorney and the defendant have presented all of their evidence and closed their cases, then the judge or jury will deliberate and decide your case.
What Qualifies as a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
If you have suffered an accident or injury caused by someone else, you may be considering filing a personal injury lawsuit. It is important to know the process of filing a claim and what goes on in the process of personal injury cases.
Why File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Personal injury can greatly reduce the quality of life for the sufferer. As the plaintiff, the burden of proof is on the injured to prove that the injuries were caused by the negligence or carelessness of another party. The key term is negligence. Negligence can be described as intentional or unintentional action or inaction that leads to the injury of another party. As the person who is injured, you are seeking the right amount of compensation for your suffering. These damages may be used to cover medical bills, lost wages, damaged property and other aspects of your life affected by this injury.
Types of Cases
Victims may choose to file a personal injury lawsuit against the other party to seek compensation. A lawsuit requires the injured party, known as the plaintiff, to file a civil complaint against the other party in a court of law. The basis of the complaint is that the negligence of the other party caused the plaintiff’s injuries. The other party, known as the defendant, must prove their total or partial lack of responsibility in court. A “party” is not limited to one person and can refer to a business, corporation, organization, etc. Both parties can also choose to handle the dispute out of court. They can meet for negotiations moderated by an arbitrator or mediator. During negotiations, both parties come to an agreement with terms outlined in a written document. Both parties agree to forego a formal trial and the defendant is required to pay damages to the plaintiff.
Statute of Limitations
Victims only have a certain amount of time to file a personal injury claim. The statute of limitations depends on the state you reside in but it normally lasts from one to five years.
Types of Personal Injuries
The actual injuries suffered by the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit vary. Plaintiffs may sue if they are injured by defective equipment or products, slip and fall, get hurt in a car accident, ingest harmful food or substances, experience assault, medical malpractice, or even suffer from birth defects.
Personal Injury Lawyers Know Insurance Company Tactics
Insurance companies know how to intimidate injury victims – it’s what they do for a living. They’ll tell you things like:
• You were actually to blame for the accident
• You can’t prove in court the full long-term physical and emotional impact of your injury
• Your doctor’s assessment isn’t good enough and you need to submit to an examination by one of our approved health care professionals
Additionally, they will use every tool at their disposal to tie up your claim settlement in an attempt to make you desperate enough for money to pay medical bills and your living expenses that you are willing to settle for an amount less than what you deserve. Reputation makes a big difference when dealing with insurance companies and their claims adjusters. Personal injury victims and workers’ compensation filers who have a reputable law firm on their side have a much better chance of receiving the money they deserve in part because the insurance company will know that picking a fight with an experienced, proven personal injury lawyer will eventually cost more in legal fees than the claim is worth to them. Of course, the threat of legal fees is only present if the injured party has hired a lawyer to fight for them. If the injury victim doesn’t have an attorney, the insurance company doesn’t have to factor legal fees into their cost-benefit analysis.
Personal Injury Attorneys Know How to Accurately Calculate Pain and Suffering
A general rule of thumb for calculating pain and suffering is adding together actual damages – namely things like medical bills, rehabilitation costs, property damage and lost wages then multiplying that number by 1 through 5, depending on the severity of the injury. If your injury cost $8,000 to treat, you lost out on $2,000 of income while you were unable to work and your auto accident injury was a 3 on the severity scale, your attorney may seek $30,000 in pain and suffering damages.
Personal Injury Attorneys Know How to Identify and Hold the Negligent Parties Responsible
In some auto accident and personal injury cases, culpability isn’t as simple as blaming the other driver. If another driver runs a red light and hits your vehicle, injuring you and your family, there could be multiple parties responsible. If that driver had been slamming on their brake but the car wasn’t stopping, the manufacturer of their brake pads or the mechanic who installed them incorrectly may be negligent parties. If the traffic light was faulty, the government may hold some responsibility. If the driver was drunk, the bar that served them may be a negligent party in the accident. A personal injury attorney hires a team of investigators, medical experts and even accident recreation specialists to gather data and uncover all available details to ensure everyone who is responsible for your injury is being held accountable.
Trial Attorneys Are Well-Versed in Local Laws Governing Personal Injury Cases and Can Fight for You in Court
The legal system isn’t comprised of a set of universal rules. Every state has a different set of laws governing personal injury cases and damage calculations. You can try to study up on your legal situation yourself, but that is a time-consuming process and there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to represent yourself well enough to get the fair claim settlement you deserve.
An experienced personal injury trial attorney in Florida has spent their professional life learning the:
• Ins and outs of Florida personal injury law
• Relevant statutes
• Legal precedents pertaining to auto accident, slip and fall, workers’ comp and other types of personal injury case
• Local judges and insurance companies
If an insurance company simply isn’t willing to give you the settlement you know you need and deserve, it can be incredibly difficult for you to take them to court and win without an attorney on your side. A personal injury law firm with teams of trial attorneys makes their living taking insurance companies to court and negotiating the fair settlement their clients need to recover and move on.
Contingency Fees – If They Don’t Win, You Don’t Pay
The majority of personal injury attorneys in Utah will work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they are paid a percentage of the ultimate settlement they win for your case. Injury victims don’t have to pay for personal injury representation out of their own pocket, which is helpful at a time when they are being inundated with medical bills and may be without an income due to their inability to work. If the personal injury attorney fails to win your case, you may end up owing them nothing for the work they did on your case.
Tips for Maximizing Compensation in Your Personal Injury Case
• Preserve Evidence: The jury is going to decide your case by looking at the evidence. Even the other party is going to decide whether to offer you a fair settlement based on the strength of your case. That means the more you can do to preserve evidence, the greater the chance of winning your case is going to be. You should take photos of the accident scene and your immediate injuries if you’re able to. It’s important to try to collect names and contact information for witnesses. If there’s a police report, you will want to get a copy as soon as possible. Your attorney can follow up on this information to collect detailed witness statements and prepare the case.
• Get Medical Treatment: Winning your personal injury case means getting a fair payment for your injuries and other losses. To do this, you need an accurate picture of your damages. You will need doctors and other health care professionals to document your injuries and formulate a treatment plan. This documentation can encourage the other side to come to the table and offer a higher settlement. You should get medical treatment, even if you’re unsure about the extent of your injuries. If your doctor recommends a treatment plan, you should carefully follow it. This should include seeking any necessary physical therapy and treatment for things like flashbacks and post-traumatic stress.
• Value Your Claim Fully: Don’t assume that you’re limited to any one type of damages. There are several different types of damages you may suffer because of your injury. You may not even be aware of all of the kinds of injuries and losses that you have. You can claim compensation for loss of regular use of body functions and even emotional damages. These are in addition to recovering your out-of-pocket losses. An experienced Utah personal injury lawyer can consult with you to evaluate these categories of damages individually.
• Don’t Be Too Eager: When you’re hurt, it’s easy to want a check in your hands as soon as possible. Sometimes, accepting the first offer you receive can prevent you from maximizing your compensation. To get the best recovery in your case, you have to let the other side believe that you’re willing to go the distance. This can mean rejecting the first, second or even third offer. It’s important to work with an attorney for an expert opinion about whether to accept or decline a settlement offer.
• Explain Why the Offer Is Inadequate: Part of getting maximum compensation means convincing the other side you have a strong case. When you get an insufficient settlement offer, you can respond by explaining to the other side why it’s unacceptable, with documentation that reinforces your assertions. This settlement rejection can show them that you’re committed to getting the compensation you deserve and that you have a strong case under Utah law. An attorney can help you handle all of the considerations related to rejecting a settlement offer, and providing documentation on why it’s considered inadequate.
• Don’t Forget Future Damages: A personal injury can bring losses both immediately and long into the future. You might not fully recover from your injuries before your case goes to trial. It’s crucial to make considerations about future recovery when negotiating a settlement amount. You can include future damages as a part of your claim. In some cases, future damages might even comprise the majority of your losses. You need to work with medical professionals to document these losses and include them in your claim.
• Build Your Case: Doing the work to build your case methodically can maximize your damages even if your case never goes to trial. This case preparation includes serving discovery demands to the other side and having your attorney conduct depositions or request records. You may need to be seen by various medical professionals, and your attorney might work with other expert witnesses to build the strength of your case. Having a strong case prepared for trial can pressure the responsible party to offer you a fair settlement. If the other side senses that you’re not doing the work to build your case, they’ll be more likely to low ball your settlement offer. If they know you’re ready to go to trial and win, they’ll be more inclined to pay you an adequate amount.
• Don’t Wait to File Your Case: After an injury occurs, you have time limits to bring your case. It’s important to bring your case as soon as possible because you don’t want to risk time running out. After the statute of limitations expires, you may not be able to recover at all. Also, filing your case lets you begin to gather evidence formally. This can be a critical aspect of being able to preserve the evidence necessary to build your case. It also lets the other side know that you’re serious about getting a fair recovery and moving the case through the courts as quickly as possible.
• Stay off Socials: Most people are familiar with the phrase that states that everything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law. Unfortunately, not all people realize that this phrase also applies to what you say on social media. If you’re claiming devastating injuries, but your Facebook page tells a different story, it can ruin your case. The other side is watching, and your best bet is to keep quiet and let your attorney do the talking. It’s also a good rule of thumb not to talk about any aspect of your injury case with anyone, or anywhere until a settlement is reached.
• Make a Good Impression: The other side is going to make a settlement offer based on what they think a jury might do at trial. Juries make their decisions based on what they see and hear at trial. It’s important to put your best foot forward. This means being polite and respectful at all times and looking your best when you’re due in court. All of these little things can help you convince the other side that a jury is going to be sympathetic to what happened in your case. This small effort can nudge the other side to offer you a fair settlement.
Utah Personal Injury Lawyer
When you have been injured in Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506