Be it at home, at work, or on the road, accidents can happen anywhere. Between medical expenses and lost income, personal injuries can cause myriad financial hardships. However, if a person or business’s negligent or reckless conduct caused your injury, you may be entitled to compensation.
While on the path to re-establishing your financial and physical wellbeing, you’ll likely go through the personal injury claim process. To guide your way, Erie Injury, a leading law firm specializing in personal injury, is here to help. In this post, we’ll review the personal injury claim process, how it works, and what you can expect.
What is a Personal Injury Claim?
To help you understand what a personal injury claim is, it’s important to understand what constitutes a personal injury. As defined by Cornell Law School, personal injuries include every variety of injury to a person’s body, emotions, or reputation, as contradistinguished from injury to property rights.
Accordingly, a personal injury claim, often referred to as a personal injury case or personal injury lawsuit, is a legal dispute that arises when a person or business has caused harm to someone and may be legally responsible for the resulting damages.
There are three main grounds on which a person can initiate a personal injury claim:
- Negligence: Failure to behave with care
- Strict Liability: Individuals or businesses are responsible for an action.
- Intentional Wrongs: Individuals committed a wrongful act intentionally
It’s vital to realize that personal injury claims don’t just arise from bodily harm. People can file a lawsuit if an individual or business damages their mental wellbeing or reputation. To help you discern between the two, consider a few examples:
|Bodily Harm||Non-Bodily Harm|
Product defect accidents
False detention, arrest, or imprisonment
Intentional infliction of emotional distress
Invasion of privacy
If a plaintiff (the party who brings legal action) is successful, the defendant’s (the party being sued) insurance company (or through personal means) will award money to compensate for injuries. This compensation typically covers:
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses
- Mental and emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
The Personal Injury Claim Process
The personal injury claim process is complicated to navigate. The claimant must be mindful of the statute of limitations—the appropriate timeframe in which a lawsuit must be filed. Furthermore, a detailed understanding of past rulings is essential to a fair settlement. The steps you should expect to take include, but are not limited to:
- Seeking medical attention
- Documenting your accident
- Finding an injury lawyer
- Settling or Filing a lawsuit
- Negotiating and Mediating
- Going to Trial
Seeking Medical Attention
If you’re injured, your first priority is to seek medical attention. Doing so is essential to your physical wellbeing and your potential future settlement. Be sure to keep all of your medical bills and records on file to ensure your claim is accurately documented and settled appropriately.
Documenting Your Accident
Most people’s memories get less accurate as time passes after an event. For this reason, it’s a good idea to take notes about your accident while it’s still fresh in your mind. If there is any evidence available, be sure to collect and preserve it.
Finding an Injury Lawyer
Next, you’ll need to find a personal injury lawyer to represent you. Whether your case gets resolved through an informal settlement or you need to go to civil court, a lawyer can help ensure you’re compensated fully. From the discovery phase (where both the plaintiff and defendant’s lawyers gather evidence) to the conclusion of the trial, they’ll help keep you informed through the entire process.
When you find your lawyer, be prepared to be interviewed about your accident. They’ll review what happened, your medical treatment, and your injuries. Ideally, you’ll have these records on hand so nothing is overlooked or mishandled.
Settling or Filing a Lawsuit
Many minor personal injury claims settle before a lawsuit is filed. However, if parties can’t come to an agreement, a claim will need to transition into litigation. During this phase, your lawyer will file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf.
Negotiating and Mediating
In many cases, both parties are able to negotiate to potentially settle without going to trial. However, if the parties are unable to reach an agreement on their own, they might consider participating in a mediation, a process wherein a third-party mediator helps to resolve the case. Settling before trial can save valuable time and money, so it’s frequently worth considering. That said, sometimes a deal cannot be made.
Going to Trial
In some cases, negotiation and mediation don’t work. When no settlement is reached, the case goes to trial. Here, a judge or jury decides the outcome of the personal injury lawsuit. If the court rules in your favor, your lawyer will then assist you in collecting compensation. In some cases, a defendant may file a post-trial motion or appeal to determine whether there was an error in the ruling.
Don’t Go Through the Process Alone
The legal system is complicated and when it comes to personal injuries, being expeditious is critical. If you or a family member has suffered injuries due to another individual or business, contact the personal injury lawyers at Erie Injury. All of our lawyers work on a contingency fee, meaning there is no fee unless there is a recovery in your case!