The Personal Injury Claim Process
Following an accident, you may be considering filing a personal injury claim to seek compensation for your injuries, property damage, and pain and suffering. Having never been in this situation before, just like most accident victims, you are unsure what the process of a personal injury claim is and what you can expect. The truth is that each and ever case is as different as the people involved, some settle in a matter of months, others years, which may leave the victim in a situation where they require lawsuit cash to help tie them over until their settlement comes through. Filing a lawsuit can be intimidating, but when you have been injured in an accident, it is the just thing to do.
The Four Basic Stages of a Personal Injury Claim
While each case will be unique in that they will each have their own set of circumstances, they will all follow the same general progression.
Claim Submission: The first step in a personal injury claim is obviously filing the claim officially, according to Legal Info Online. This filing is known as a complaint and will name all of the known defendants in the matter and include a summary of the events as they occurred as well as what it is you are looking for in terms of retribution. The complaint will also include what you will be seeking should your terms not be met prior to a certain time period that is set. A complaint, while a formal legal document, is different from a lawsuit. A lawsuit is not filed until much later in the process.
Evidence Gathering: After the complaint is filed, both sides will begin gathering evidence. While trials are typically a long ways off from when you file the complaint, most lawyers begin preparing as if they were going to trial in this stage. You want to have strong evidence right from the start to increase the chances that you and the opposing parties will reach a settlement without entering a courtroom.
Negotiations: In this stage, you will typically try some settlement-reaching options that do not involve a proper trial such as mediation or arbitration. These negotiations will typically become more frequent and aggressively pushed as the statute of limitations—or time limit on when you must file a formal lawsuit—nears or passes and trial becomes more likely. Rest assured that the vast majority of personal injury claims do settle in this stage, according to Find Law.
Litigation (or Trial): If your attempts at reaching a settlement outside of the courtroom prove to be unsuccessful your case will then move to trial. Proof in personal injury cases works differently than in criminal cases, which is something many people are not aware of. For one, the jury does not need to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt one way or another as they do in say a murder trial. The sides need to argue strongly enough to make the jury feel that one version of the events is more likely than the other.