The process of filing a personal injury claim


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The process of filing a personal injury claim

  1. 1.  When you have been involved in a car accident, slip and fall accident or a fire in the workplace, then you may be entitled to file a negligence claim. The field of "negligence" is also referred to as "torts" or "personal injury law." This area of the law allows individuals to receive their rightful compensation for suffering injuries that were the fault of someone else. You can recover funds for your injuries by filing a negligence claim with the court or settling your case outside of the court room. The majority of cases are settled outside of the court room because a litigant is able to usually recover more funds outside of the court room. To better understand how you can file a negligence claim, here is the outline for the legal process that you should consider.
  2. 2.  You will first want to meet with a personal injury lawyer in your community. It is better to hire a lawyer who is familiar with the local court system, judges and other attorneys in your area. Your lawyer may be able to have an easier time in persuading a judge that negligence occurred in your case if he or she has appeared before the judge multiple times. During the initial consultation, you can determine the best route for your case. The lawyer may recommend that you settle the case outside of court. If the lawyer thinks that you will obtain a large sum of money in a verdict from the jury, then he or she may recommend that you take the case to trial. Whatever the lawyer decides, it is important that you obtain expert legal advice so that you can make the best decision for your case.
  3. 3.  A lawyer may have to do research before he or she can decide whether to take your case. During this time, the lawyer will analyze the applicable case law in your jurisdiction to determine whether your case will have a favorable outcome in court. Be prepared to wait for a few weeks until you hear back from the lawyer about the status of your case. If the lawyer does decide to take your case, he or she will send you a letter or even give you a phone call. The lawyer also has an obligation to let you know whether he or she has declined to accept your case.
  4. 4.  If the lawyer accepts your case, then he or she will meet with you again to discuss the legal strategy for your case. The lawyer will let you know your options and whether it is better to pursue litigation or a settlement outside of court.
  5. 5.  If the lawyer does decide that your case should go to court, then he or she will begin drafting the Complaint. The Complaint is a formal legal document that outlines all of the reasons that you should be able to recover damages from the party at fault. The Complaint will also contain a section that is called the "Request for Relief." The "Request for Relief" will outline the total amount that you are requesting in damages from the other side. You will also have to cite the specific facts that occurred and prove that negligence happened in your case.
  6. 6.  After the Complaint has been filed with the appropriate court, your lawyer will then begin the process of requesting discovery materials from the opposing counsel. The purpose of requesting these materials is to provide evidence for the occurrence of negligence in your situation. For example, if you were involved in a car accident where the other driver was drunk and caused the accident, then the lawyer may request access to a police report. The lawyer will want to introduce the police report as evidence that the other party was actually drunk at the time of the accident. The discovery phase of a trial usually takes the most time. It can take months or years to complete the discovery phase of a trial.
  7. 7.  If the opposing counsel is not being fully candid in providing its discovery materials, then your lawyer may want to file a Motion to Compel. A Motion to Compel will help speed up the process of obtaining discovery materials from the opposing counsel so that the case can move forward.
  8. 8.  Part of the discovery process is also taking deposition testimony. Your lawyer may have to interview witnesses from all around the country who saw the accident happen. This phase can also prolong the resolution of a case.
  9. 9.  When the discovery phase has been completed and all of the facts have been presented to the jury, your lawyer may decide to file a Motion for Summary Judgment. This will give the court an opportunity to make a ruling on your case. If the judge finds that one party was negligent in causing an accident, then the jury will have to go back into its chambers to decide on a settlement amount that you can receive. The jury will have the opportunity to figure out an award that will cover your pain and suffering, any lost wages, the cost of prescription drug treatments and any lost future wages. The jury may also be able to give you an award for any loss of consortium, which is a legal concept that refers to the "loss of enjoyment of ones life." For example, if you love to paint and your hand was severely damaged in a car accident, then you may be able to obtain a sum of money for this loss.
  10. 10.  The jury will then come back with its verdict, and you will be notified about how much money you can receive for winning your case. The entire trial for a personal injury claim can last for years. Some cases go on for 5 to 10 years before they are ultimately settled. You should always get an estimate of the number of years that your case will require before being settled.