Bagen Law Firm | January 20, 2023 | Personal Injury
When individuals and entities behave negligently, serious accidents can occur and lead to equally serious injuries. In these circumstances, an accident victim may be eligible to file a personal injury claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company or a lawsuit against the at-fault party seeking favorable monetary damages.
When it comes time to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit, you want a lawyer on your side who has the necessary knowledge, training, skills, and experience to represent you effectively throughout your case.
A knowledgeable personal injury attorney can investigate the circumstances of your accident and, if necessary, retain an expert accident reconstructionist who can visit the accident scene, review police reports, speak with eyewitnesses, and determine how the accident likely occurred and who caused it.
A personal injury lawyer should file a claim on your behalf with the at-fault party’s insurance company, effectively engage the settlement adjuster in negotiations, and, if necessary, litigate your case in the court system to a favorable resolution.
What is a Personal Injury Claim?
A personal injury claim stems from another person or entity’s negligence. A party is negligent when they fail to follow the prevailing standard of care. In other words, they must ordinarily fail to do something that a hypothetical reasonable person should have done in the same scenario. Alternatively, they might actually do something that a hypothetical reasonable person should not have done in the same instance.
In any personal injury claim or lawsuit, the accident victim has the sole legal burden of proof in their case. To recover monetary damages for their injuries, they must show that another individual owed them a duty of care they violated. For example, in the context of a car accident claim, the at-fault driver must ordinarily have operated their vehicle while distracted, violated one or more traffic regulations, or driven while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
In addition, the accident victim must show that they suffered at least one physical injury in their accident, as property damage alone is not sufficient. Finally, the accident victim must demonstrate that their injury or injuries directly resulted from the accident.
Some of the most common occurrences that result from others’ negligence include:
- Motor vehicle accidents, where a negligent car or truck operator violates a rule of the road, exhibits road rage, drives drunk, or engages in distracted driving, causing an accident that affects another driver, passenger, cyclist, or pedestrian
- Wrongful death claims, which seek to help close family members who lost a loved one in a preventable accident, causing them financial and emotional losses.
- Slip-and-fall accidents, where a premises operator or owner fails to reasonably maintain their property and fails to correct a hazardous condition on the property or warn property visitors about the condition—within a sufficient period of time
- Medical malpractice and negligence, where a healthcare provider performs a medical procedure incorrectly, misdiagnoses a patient or fails to diagnose a patient’s medical condition altogether.
If you suffered injuries in one of these occurrences that resulted from someone else’s negligence, a skilled personal injury lawyer in your area can review your accident circumstances with you, determine your legal rights, and help you decide the best course of action for your case. Your lawyer can then file a personal injury claim with the responsible party’s insurance company on your behalf.
Injuries that Accident Victims Suffer Due to Others’ Negligence
When others behave negligently and cause serious accidents, accident victims may be left to suffer severe and debilitating injuries. The injuries that an accident victim sustains may depend upon the type of accident that occurs, the amount of force involved, and the affected body parts. Some of the most common accident-related injuries include traumatic head and brain damage, spinal cord injuries, paralysis injuries, soft tissue contusions, internal organ damage, bone fractures, bruises, and open cuts.
If you suffered an injury in a serious accident, you should seek same-day medical care preferably at a local urgent care center or hospital emergency room. Alternatively, you can follow up with your primary care doctor on the same day as the accident.
You should seek prompt medical treatment even if you are not experiencing pain and other symptoms at the accident scene. This is because symptoms of some injuries may take days or even weeks to manifest. This phenomenon is especially true with soft tissue injuries and traumatic brain injuries, including concussions.
At the ER facility, a medical provider can order imaging studies, including MRIs, CT scans, and X-rays, to assist them with their diagnosis. The provider can also physically examine you and make recommendations for future medical care. For example, the doctor might instruct you to follow up with your family doctor if your symptoms worsen. Moreover, you may need to consult with a physical therapist, neurologist, or orthopedist, depending on the severity of your injuries.
While you focus the majority of your attention on making a full recovery, your lawyer can handle the legal aspects of your claim and begin advocating for you. Specifically, your lawyer can gather up your lost wage statements, obtain copies of all medical treatment records and bills to date, gather accident-related photographs, and assemble these documents into a settlement demand package for you. If the insurance company accepts fault for your accident, settlement negotiations may begin, and your lawyer can assist you throughout that process.
How to Find the Right Lawyer for You and Your Personal Injury Case
When settling or litigating a personal injury claim or lawsuit, you should have the right lawyer representing you throughout the process.
When it comes to retaining an experienced personal injury attorney for representation, you should ask questions and consider all:
- The number of years that the attorney has practicing personal injury law and generally speaking, the more years, the better
- The specific areas of personal injury law the lawyer concentrates on. For example, car and truck accidents, pedestrian accidents, premises liability, negligence security, boating accidents, medical negligence, etc.
- The personal injury lawyer’s track record of success in settling personal injury claims and lawsuits, taking them to court, and obtaining favorable jury verdicts and binding arbitration awards
- The personal injury lawyer’s ethics record
- The lawyer’s contingency fee percentage
When retaining a personal injury lawyer to represent you in your case, you should interview and meet with several lawyers to find answers to these questions. A lawyer can provide you with a straightforward answer, and you can base your final decision on which attorney has the most knowledge and experience. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can effectively assist you throughout your personal injury claim or lawsuit and pursue the highest amount of damages available to you in your case.
Deadline to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Accident victims do not have unlimited time to file their personal injury claim or lawsuit. The statute of limitations for a specific jurisdiction determines the filing deadline. In some jurisdictions, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is just two years from the accident date. If the accident victim files their lawsuit belatedly, the court will prevent them from pursuing any monetary recovery for their injuries. Therefore, it is in your best interests to retain an experienced personal injury lawyer to represent you as soon as possible.
As soon as you retain an attorney for representation, the attorney can enter an appearance in your case and begin representing you. Your lawyer can also assist you during settlement negotiations with the insurance company and file a lawsuit in the court system on your behalf if the insurance company refuses to compensate you favorably. Your lawyer may then assist you throughout the litigation and work to bring your case to a favorable and efficient resolution.
Negotiating With Insurance Company Adjusters
Settlement negotiations with insurance company adjusters are often an uphill battle. This is because adjusters will do everything they possibly can to deny liability in an accident case or pay out as little monetary compensation as possible to resolve a claim. After all, insurance companies are big businesses, and they are primarily concerned with protecting their bottom line—not with fully and fairly compensating accident victims for their injuries.
It will take a skilled attorney to effectively negotiate with the settlement adjuster and convince them to increase their settlement offer meaningfully.
During settlement negotiations, the accident victim’s attorney gradually decreases their initial settlement demand, while the adjuster gradually increases their most recent settlement offer. These negotiations may continue until the parties either resolve their case through settlement or reach an impasse. If the adjuster refuses to offer you the fair compensation you deserve, a skilled lawyer can file a lawsuit in court and begin litigating your case effectively.
Litigating Your Case in Court
In a personal injury case, litigation begins when the accident victim’s lawyer files a lawsuit in court. However, this does not necessarily mean that the case will proceed all the way to a jury trial. In fact, most personal injury claims and lawsuits settle at some point during the process. If every personal injury case goes to trial, it would clog the court system and place an unreasonable burden on judicial resources.
During litigation, the parties will exchange answers to written questions, called interrogatories, and may take one another’s depositions. Once litigation is over, the court may schedule a settlement conference, so the parties can meet and try to work out their disputes. If that does not happen, the parties will likely take their case to a jury trial, where a jury will decide what, if any, compensation to award the accident victim.
As an alternative to a jury trial, the parties may consider mediation or binding arbitration, both of which are alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. During mediation, a neutral, third-party mediator meets with the parties in the lawsuit. The mediator’s main job is to facilitate meaningful settlement discussions between the parties and pursue an amicable resolution.
On the other hand, binding arbitration allows for a neutral, third-party arbitrator to resolve the case and decide the amount of monetary compensation to award the accident victim within certain parameters that the parties establish before the arbitration hearing.
Pursuing the Monetary Damages You Deserve
Accident victims who sustain personal injuries due to someone else’s negligence can recover various monetary damages. Every personal injury case is different, and different accident victims may recover different types and amounts of monetary compensation. The damages that an accident victim ultimately recovers will depend upon the extent of an accident victim’s injuries, their medical treatment costs, and their pain and suffering levels.
Accident victims can recover monetary damages for any of the following:
- Costs of all accident-related medical treatment
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Mental distress
- Loss of spousal companionship
- Loss of the ability to use a body part
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Permanent disfigurement
- Permanent impairment
A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in your jurisdiction will work to maximize your monetary damages, either through settlement, jury verdict, or binding arbitration award.
Contact a Skilled Personal Injury Attorney in Your Area Today
If you suffered injuries in an occurrence that resulted from another person’s negligence, you are not alone. You should retain a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer with ample experience settling and litigating personal injury claims and lawsuits. Ideally, you want a lawyer representing you who regularly takes personal injury cases to jury trials and binding arbitration proceedings—and obtains favorable results.
Some people think that lawyers are expensive and that they will save money if they do not hire one. This is far from the truth. People who have representation by a lawyer nearly always receive more compensation than those who do not.
A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in your area can answer your legal questions and effectively settle or litigate your case in the court system. Your lawyer will do everything possible to maximize the monetary damages you recover, ensuring you become whole again to the greatest extent possible.