You’ve been seriously injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, and now you think you deserve compensation.
If that sounds like you, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll go over the general steps you need to take to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Of course, every personal injury case is different, so the process may vary slightly. However, most cases follow these steps:
1. Get Medical Care
Before you do anything else, it’s important to seek medical attention for your injury. There are a few reasons why:
For one, it helps you understand the extent of your injuries. Not all injuries are immediately obvious (e.g. concussions and internal bleeding). So it’s important to get regular checkups.
In addition, if you fail to get medical care, your insurance company and the opposing party could accuse you of making the injury worse by neglecting to treat it, and try to place some of the blame on you.
2. Consult A Personal Injury Lawyer
Next, it’s important to consult a personal injury lawyer. They understand the law and can help you know how much your personal injury case is worth. Most offer free consultations and work on a contingency basis, meaning you won’t owe them any money unless (and until) you win your case.
Keep in mind that personal injury cases can get complicated, so it pays to have an expert on your side. They can help you get the compensation you deserve.
3. Set Up A Claim
Your attorney can help you set up a claim. This involves informing all involved parties of your intent to file a lawsuit (aka service of process). The notice of claim is typically delivered by a professional process server, court official, or law enforcement officer to the civil court system of the state where the injury occurred.
4. Gather Information
At this point, you need to start collecting any evidence related to your personal injury. Think medical bills, doctor’s notes, proof of lost wages, witness reports, photographs of damages, and more.
Try to keep all your records organized so that you can produce them at the appropriate times during the lawsuit.
5. Negotiate A Settlement
Before the litigation process begins, it’s common to try to negotiate a settlement between you and the other party. In fact, only 4% of personal injury cases ever see trial, with most settled out of court.
Go into settlement talks with a target compensation amount in mind and a lower limit, below which you are not willing to settle. This will help you negotiate for the best possible outcome.
6. File A Lawsuit
If you and the other party are unable to settle on an agreed-upon compensation amount, litigation can begin (i.e. filing the lawsuit).
This starts with a discovery phase, in which lawyers may exchange evidence and witness statements. Both sides may ask questions and request records of the other.
On top of establishing the amount of injury and damage you suffered, your lawyer will try to prove the negligence of the defendant. For example, they may have been drinking under the influence or texting and driving when the accident occurred.
The Bottom Line
By the end of the litigation process, hopefully, the jury will take your side and you will be compensated a satisfactory amount for your losses and damages. The key is to work with a reputable lawyer who knows how to create a strong case and defend it in court. That’s the best way to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.