What to Consider Before Filing a Personal Injury Claim

Unless you are a personal injury attorney filing a personal injury lawsuit can be quite intimidating. This can be due to the seemingly endless maze of paperwork that you have to fill out. That is why we are here. In this article, we hope to provide you with the information you need to get your personal injury claim started off on the right track and many of the things you should consider before getting started.

Statute of Limitations

The first thing that you need to be aware of is the statute of limitations in your state. A statute of limitations is nothing more than the time limit that you have to have your lawsuit filed by. Every state has its own statute of limitations, so you need to make sure you know what yours is. This timeframe begins when someone knew or should have known that harm had occurred.

Shared Fault Rules

There will be times when the defendant in the claim will argue that you are the one to blame for the harmful event that led to you being injured. It is important to know that if you are determined to share some of the liability for the event that the total compensation amount is likely to be affected.

Different states handle these cases differently, but many have what is referred to as a modified comparative negligence rule. This is used to determine the total amount of compensation that is entitled to you, however, it will be reduced by the percentage to which you are deemed to be at fault. If, for example, you are determined to have been more than 50% at fault, then you will not be able to collect from the other parties that were at fault.

Damage Awards

When filing a personal injury lawsuit, the damages that you can be compensated for can include, but are not limited to lost wage compensation, compensation for damage to property, and compensation for medical expenses.

Personal injury lawsuits also allow for punitive damages. These include non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering or emotional distress. These are designed to help prevent people from repeating the same behavior that led to the injury in the first place.

Trial Preparation

Much of the procedure of the trial actually takes place before ever going to court. This includes the exchange of information and evidence between all parties involved. This is known as the discovery phase and often includes several elements and steps.

Medical Examinations

One such step could be a medical examination. After an accident resulting in an injury, the injured person needs to get an initial medical examination. This can be performed by a doctor of the injured parties choice. It is important to note that other parties may request a second opinion.

The requirement is that you choose a doctor that is an actual MD, or medical doctor. This medical examiner has to be qualified in multiple areas. For one, they have to have medical training and knowledge specific to the subject or injury of the case. It is best to choose a doctor that has the necessary experience, training, and credentials that proves they are qualified to testify as to the results of the examination.

Documentation

It is important that you keep up with the documents relating to the case. This includes pertinent documents to the case, such as copies of your insurance policies or the insurance policies of your employer if the accident happened at work. This will greatly benefit your attorney in moving your case forward. This will also help prove to the court that you are well within your rights for filing such a claim.

Witnesses

Having an expert witness to testify on your behalf is a common occurrence. These individuals are able to testify regarding their conclusions about the case, that is as long as they are providing scientifically accurate testimony. These experts often rely upon the same kind of evidence that they would typically rely on in their day-to-day job. This is even if the evidence that they are testifying on is inadmissible in court.

Interrogatories

These are written questions that are provided to each party in a personal injury lawsuit. These are typically used in order to obtain information from every involved party. When answering these questions it is required that the answers be truthful. It is important to know that any false information provided can cause the involved party to be held accountable by the courts.

Depositions

A deposition is sworn, out of court testimony from a witness of the event or aftermath. Now, these depositions can be limited by the circumstance, but as long as the circumstances fit the criteria then they will be allowed in the trial. The witness providing the deposition is called the deponent.

Alternative Dispute Resolution or ADR

The fact is that not many personal injury claims actually go all the way to trial. The majority of the time, these cases are typically settled out of court. This resolution can come via settlement, mediation, or arbitration. Some states actually require mediation for any civil litigation. This helps to save time and money for all parties involved, included the courts themselves. If you want to avoid a lengthy trial, then mediation and arbitration are some excellent options.

Arbitration vs Mediation

Arbitration is a process that was designed specifically to offer an option to streamline these legal issues, making them more cost-effective. Typically this is done to obtain a fair resolution to both parties via the use of an outside third party. This is done without adding any delays or unnecessary expenses. This is also designed in such a way to prevent the court system from interfering in arbitration.

Mediation, on the other hand, is done within the court system via a mediator or judge that is not assigned to the case. This mediator will meet with all parties at the beginning of the mediation process, meeting with them separately, in order to determine if an agreement or settlement can be reached.

The Final Word

As you can see, there are a lot of working parts that go into filing a personal injury claim and taking it to court. That is why it is best to settle out of court if a fair arrangement can be met. It is important, however, that you be prepared to go to trial with a solid case if that becomes necessary. I don’t recommend going at this alone, either. It is always best to have an experienced litigator on your side in these instances, such as from Foyle Legal Perth Public Liability.

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