RileyCate LLC – While the filing of personal injury claims is substantial – with around 400,000 claims filed each year in the United States – the number of claims that actually reach a court hearing is small. The US Department of Justice reports that only around 3 – 5 per cent of court claims are resolved in Court. Most will achieve a pre-trial verdict and settle before the expense of trial.
Insurance companies in particular will seek to ensure their claims are settled out of court, to avoid the costly court costs related to trials.
The question that often arises is what the process of handling a personal injury claim is, given that so many claimants face the prospect of a personal injury lawsuit, regardless of whether it ends up at trial.
Like our firm at RileyCate, LLC there are a large number of personal injury attorneys handling these matters, most of which (over 50 per cent) arise from car accidents, with the rest being medical malpractice, slip and falls or product liability claims. The case that is settled will likely take about a year – give or take six months either side – while a court hearing on the personal injury claim is twice that time on average.
What are the key steps in making a personal injury claim?
Starting a Personal Injury Claim
The first step towards resolving a personal injury case is to hire legal representation. Even in case where a claim is filed with an insurance company, the assistance of legal counsel is very useful given prior experience with the claims and also in assisting in the presentation of a case that will succeed. This includes the following –
- Gathering all evidence related to your case, including conducting all necessary investigations.
- Placing a value on your losses based on the medical expenses you have incurred and will incur in the future, the wages you have lost while recovering your health, your pain and suffering, and other items.
- Preparing and filing your claim.
- Negotiating a settlement with the other party or the insurance.
- Filing a lawsuit.
- Arguing your case in trial.
How does the process start?
The legal process of a personal injury claim begins by sending a demand letter to the other party. In it, you as the plaintiff will formally request to receive payment for your damages from the defendant. If the other party or the insurance refuses to pay or a solution cannot be found to satisfy both parties, a lawsuit will be filed.
What does a demand letter include?
The demand letter is key in a personal injury case. In it, you, as the injured party, with the help of your lawyer, will explain why you deserve to receive payment for the damages you have suffered.
The demand letter should include:
- An explanation of why the defendant is liable.
- A summary of your injuries.
- The medical treatments you have undergone, those still needed, and how much this will cost.
- An explanation of the income that you have lost because of your injuries.
- Any other damages you are experiencing, such as pain and suffering.
Once the other party or the insurance receives the demand letter, if they decide not to pay or what they offer is not enough, a complaint is filed.
Filing a Complaint
The complaint serves to give official notice to the court and the defendant that you are filing a lawsuit in which you seek to receive compensation for damages. The complaint will include:
- The names of all parties involved
- The court’s jurisdiction over the case
- The legal claims
- Evidence and facts supporting the claims
- Demand for judgment stating how much you are seeking
After the complaint has been filed, you and your attorney have 30 days to serve it to the defendant in person. This way, you get proof that it has been received. The defendant then has 30 more days to respond. Should they fail to do so, the court will rule in your favor.
The Discovery Process
As its name implies, this part of the process entails discovering all information regarding the case. Both attorneys will investigate the case, interview witnesses, and gather all evidence. Attorneys will also look at medical records, police reports, information regarding wages lost by the plaintiff, and insurance reports. With this information, they will build a clear picture of the case.
Either party can, at this point, file a motion with the court trying to have the case delayed or dismissed or asking for judgment to be reached.
Settling the Case
As noted above, almost 95 per cent of all personal injury claims do not reach this point but get settled much sooner. This can be achieved through negotiation or mediation. The plaintiff agrees to stop the lawsuit and all future charges in exchange for compensation received.
For the remaining cases that do not reach an agreement then it will be a trial situation where the preparation and presentation of the personal injury claim is of extreme importance.
After being injured in an accident, the personal injury claim process can seem daunting for many who, for the most part, will never have had such experience prevously. However, understanding the steps involved and gathering the necessary documentation can ensure that your claim is handled efficiently and effectively.
Knowing what is involved in the personal injury process and having the assistance of capable attorneys can maximize your chances of achieving fair compensation for your injuries.
Source: RileyCate, LLC was founded in Fishers, Indiana and provides legal services for people injured by prescription drugs, defamation, negligence, & carelessness business.