There are almost as many different types of personal injury cases as there are ways to get injured. From a car accident to a slip and fall (just two examples), personal injury law covers a wide range of incidents. therefore, no two cases will follow exactly the same course or timeline. much depends on the severity of the resulting injuries, the clarity of certain issues (perhaps most of whom was at fault), and whether or not the incident is covered by an insurance policy.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some key considerations related to personal injury lawsuits. You’ll also find links to more detailed information on each step to help you determine the best course of action for your case.
1. determine if an insurance policy covers the incident
If you’ve been injured and you think someone else might be legally responsible, you may want to find out if that person has insurance coverage that will cover any injury claims you file. after a car accident, does the other driver have insurance? If injured in a slip and fall, who owns the property and do they have liability coverage?
This is important because it can determine whether or not you may be able to collect any damages awarded to you by a jury after a personal injury trial. having a judgment in your favor is one thing, but collecting that judgment is another story, and the story may not have such a happy ending when the defendant has no applicable insurance coverage and very few assets. consider the extent of your injuries and whether your own insurance coverage could provide a satisfactory solution. If you weren’t seriously injured, fault for the accident is unclear, and you have health insurance coverage, you may want to think twice before filing a lawsuit against someone who doesn’t have insurance.
On the other hand, if your injuries are significant and it’s clear that the other person is at fault for the underlying accident, you’ll probably want to continue, whether they’re covered by an insurance policy or not. let them work out the details.
2. deciding whether to hire a personal injury attorney
Except in the simplest of cases, where your injuries are not significant and you are confident that you can achieve a satisfactory result on your own, it is probably best to at least discuss your case with a personal injury attorney. remember, talking to a lawyer is not the same as hiring one. Most personal injury attorneys will be happy to provide you with a free initial consultation where they will discuss the merits of your case with you and outline your legal options.
In most attorney-client agreements in personal injury cases, the attorney works on a “contingency” basis, which means the client pays nothing unless there is a settlement or court judgment to your favour. then the attorney takes an agreed-upon percentage of the settlement or judgment, as a fee for services.
Depending on the amount of money at stake and the complexity of the legal issues in your case, and also depending on how much the other party is willing to fight, it might be worth having a lawyer fight for you.
3. decide to file (or not file) a lawsuit
As you’ve probably heard, the vast majority of personal injury cases settle before trial, and many settle before a civil lawsuit is even filed.
There are ways to recover compensation for an injury without going to court and filing a lawsuit. Again, when there is insurance coverage, you can file a “third party claim” against the at-fault person’s insurance company. I would start by getting the name of the other person’s insurance company and their policy number. Then send the company a notice of claim that includes your insured’s information, your information, the date of the accident, and a notification letter stating that you were injured and intend to file a claim. do not go into details at this point. that will come later, in settlement negotiations and in correspondence like the demand letter.
Of course, if your insurance claim stalls or settlement negotiations fail, you can always start the personal injury lawsuit process by filing your complaint in your state’s local branch of civil court. A key law to consider is the personal injury statute of limitations in your state. This law places a limit on the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit after your injury, so understanding and following it is critical.