Have you suffered harm as the result of an injury or accident? Could another party be legally responsible for the wrongful act that caused your misfortune? Then filing a personal injury claim is your best chance at securing the compensation you are rightly owed.
More than 400,000 personal injury claims are filed in the United States each year. These include claims for:
- Negligence, such as slip and fall accidents, vehicle accidents and medical malpractice
- Intentional torts, such as battery, assault, conversion, false imprisonment, trespass to land, trespass to chattels, defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress
- Strict liability, such as animal attacks including dog bites, accidents resulting from ownership of wild animals and abnormally dangerous activities
- Products liability, such as defective products, inadequate safety warnings and toxic food
When you file a personal injury claim and receive a settlement or win in civil court, you receive compensatory damages: financial restitution for medical expenses, mental anguish, physical pain and suffering, future lost wages and more. If you have been injured, don’t bear enormous costs on your own. Follow these six steps to filing a personal injury claim instead.
1. Receive Medical Treatment
Do not waste one second seeking medical care following an injury or accident. Immediate medical treatment can decrease your risk of suffering a worse outcome in the future, and many types of physical injuries are only immediately detectable by trained medical professionals. Receiving medical treatment also creates hard evidence that you were injured, which will prove of great value should you decide to pursue legal action.
2. Prepare Documents
In addition to all of your medical bills and records, assemble any other documents or evidence that demonstrate the injury or accident (A) occurred, and (B) had a significant impact on your quality of life. This can include witness statements and contact information, photographs of the scene of the accident, your employer’s statement that you missed work, and receipts for any purchases you had to make in order to cope with your injury.
3. Engage an Attorney
It is possible to settle a personal injury claim without having first engaged professional legal representation. But civil procedure is complicated, and difficult to navigate even when you aren’t recovering from a serious injury. Furthermore, a personal injury lawyer is well versed in negotiation, and often secures significantly higher settlements than their clients could have on their own. The great majority of personal injury attorneys do not charge for consultations – they only collect a fee when their client collects a settlement.
An attorney will investigate the accident on their client’s behalf. That includes interviewing the claimant, requesting medical records and additional documentation that supports their client’s claim, and working with experts who can help build their case. An attorney will additionally help to establish negligence (in personal injury cases where it is relevant). For example, if their client was struck by a moving vehicle, the attorney will demonstrate that the driver of the vehicle would not have caused the accident had they exercised reasonable prudence by following the rules of the road.
4. Serve Papers
Filing a personal injury claim doesn’t just require filing papers with the court. You must also serve papers to the other parties involved in your claim. Failing to perform this step could result in the court dismissing your case altogether.
5. Discuss Settlement
Your attorney will present your claim to the other party’s attorney or insurance company before the case proceeds to court. At this juncture the attorneys will attempt to reach a settlement that both parties would agree is acceptable. Such negotiations are normally successful, which is why settlement discussion is typically the last step personal injury claims reach.
6. File a Lawsuit
When either party declines a settlement, the claimant’s attorney files a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. Doing so triggers the discovery stage of the trial, wherein both parties scrutinize the opposing sides’ defenses and claims. Discovery may last as little as a month in simpler cases, but can easily exceed one year during more complicated ones.
Once discovery has concluded, the attorneys will have another opportunity to settle the case. This phase, which is known as mediation, includes a neutral third party who works toward facilitating a resolution which satisfies both the plaintiff and the defendant. If mediation fails, the case advances to trial. If you live in the greater Logan, Utah area and have recently become the victim of someone else’s negligence, you deserve an attorney who will stand up for your rights. We welcome you to contact Hillyard, Anderson & Olsen today. Our clients’ best interests are the only interests we have at heart.