A Guide To The Personal Injury Claim Process
Being involved in an incident that warrants a personal injury claim isn't something most people want to think about too often. However, it's always best to be prepared. This guide will explain the personal injury claim process to help you feel less overwhelmed if you ever need to file a claim.
1. Serving the Defendant
Once you have received necessary medical care after an injury, you can turn your attention to filing a claim. The most prudent course of action at this point is to hire a personal injury attorney. Your attorney can confirm that you have a case by discussing the incident with you and reviewing your relevant medical records.
The legal process begins when your attorney sends a demand letter to the other party's insurer and/or attorney. The letter outlines the compensation you expect to receive, as well as your claim that the other party caused your injury through negligence or a deliberate act.
Settlement negotiations begin after a demand is made. Your attorney will negotiate with the other party's insurance adjuster. An attorney's experience and expertise are valuable assets to receive a settlement that is close to your original demand.
2. Discovery and Pre-Trial
The discovery phase of a personal injury claim is the time that the involved attorneys will use to gather information about the incident. You may receive interrogatories with specific questions about your injury, the treatment you received, and any witnesses that were present.
You will usually attend several pre-trial hearings after your attorney submits your case to the court. These hearings are meant to focus the case on relevant issues to simplify the proceedings. The judge and attorneys will again try to negotiate a settlement. In four to five percent of cases, a settlement cannot be reached and the case goes to trial.
At the beginning of a personal injury trial, the judge will meet with the attorneys to discuss final details and then introduce the case to the jury. The judge and attorneys question the jury to determine if any jurors must be dismissed.
Opening statements are given after jury selection. Each attorney explains the conclusion that they will attempt to prove through their evidence. Both sides are allowed to present evidence, question witnesses, and cross-examine their opponent's witnesses, and then the plaintiff may call rebuttal witnesses if necessary.
Near the end of a personal injury trial, the judge reads instructions to the jury for deliberation based on the evidence presented and its admissibility. Closing arguments are presented, and then the jury moves to the deliberation room.
Deliberation may take minutes or hours depending on the complexity of the case. The jury may also request to review testimonies or other evidence during deliberation. The judge will review and announce the verdict when deliberation is complete.
4. Compensation and Appeals
If a personal injury case is ruled in your favor in court, the defense has the opportunity to file an appeal. The appeal goes before an appellate court which will either uphold the decision, reverse it, or schedule a new trial. The appeal process must be completed before compensation is received.
After a judgment in your favor, the other party is legally indebted to you for the amount awarded. If they do not set up a payment plan or pay the full amount willingly, you have a few options at your disposal. An attorney can provide more details about collection options such as garnishing the debtor's bank account or placing a lien on their real estate.
Each personal injury claim is unique, but they all follow the same fundamental steps. Consider the services of a personal injury attorney like one from Siben & Siben LLP who can guide you through each part of the process.