How to File a Personal Injury Claim
Many people sustain an injury as a result of another person’s negligence. Injuries could occur in vehicle collisions, slip and falls, or other incidents involving the negligence of a third party that leads to injuries, resulting in expensive medical bills and other losses.
If you or a loved one sustained an injury and believe another party’s negligence was the cause, you may wish to file a personal injury claim against the responsible person or group of people. Filing a claim can help you recover compensation for any and all damages and losses resulting from another’s negligence.
Prior to filing a personal injury claim, consult with a personal injury lawyer who can help you navigate the process, which can be complex and overwhelming. Your case could become particularly difficult if you have to face opposing insurance companies and attorneys who wish to file a counterclaim, with which an attorney may be able to support you.
If you sustain an injury and want to file a claim, you will have a limited amount of time in which to do so, depending on the statute of limitations in your state. While a statute of limitations can protect people from wrongly involving people as defendants in claims many years after an incident, this statute could also help you by encouraging you to file your claim quickly while the details are still fresh in the minds of you and any witnesses. Once the statute of limitations has expired, you will no longer be able to file a claim or lawsuit. In Texas, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of your accident.
Choosing the Right Court for Filing a Claim
The appropriate court to file a personal injury claim will depend on certain factors such as your location at the time of the accident, the amount compensable, and whether you are a resident of the city where the accident occurred. You can check with your local courts’ requirements regarding claims, or you can consult with an attorney to discuss your options and determine where to file.
The Process of Drafting Your Complaint
Prior to filing a personal injury claim with any court, you will be required to draft a complaint. The complaint is a type of document that will explain the reasons for filing the claim. It’s important to avoid making the complaint too long and complicated. Your complaint will perform better if you make sure it’s concise and clear. Also, ensure that there’s sufficient evidence to support your case. You can then file the complaint, for which the court will charge a filing fee.
After filing the complaint, you will need to serve the defendant named in the complaint and keep a record documenting that you served him or her. The next step will entail simply awaiting the defendant’s response. A reliable personal injury attorney can assist with this process if you are unable to file and serve the complaint, which could be the case if you require time to recover from your injuries.
Proving Negligence in Your Case
All personal injury cases are founded on instances of negligence, which refers to a third party’s failure to fulfill a duty of care that resulted in your injury. The plaintiffs involved in personal injury cases need to prove with sufficient evidence that the defendant practiced negligence leading to an accident that culminated in your injuries.
The defendant will also be able to submit evidence proving their innocence. Plaintiffs must show that their evidence is more reliable and supported than the defendant’s evidence to win a case. Proving negligence can be difficult in any case, and there are many obligations that a plaintiff can have, which is why it’s best to work with an attorney to represent you if you choose to file a claim.
What Is Needed for Evidence to Be Accepted
Specifically, plaintiffs will need to prove:
- That the defendant was negligent
- That this negligence directly caused the accident
- That the accident was the direct cause of the plaintiff’s injuries
- That the plaintiff suffered the injuries claimed
To file a successful claim, you will need to be able to provide evidence that proves each of these items. At the same time, the defendant’s team may enter a motion to exclude certain evidence that you submit, which may be granted if you failed to follow certain protocols when either gathering or presenting the evidence. Any omission of evidence could be detrimental to your case and make it harder to prove negligence and that your injuries resulted from that negligence.
What the Courtroom Procedure Entails
In the courtroom, each side of the case will present evidence and arguments based on certain procedures in place. Experienced personal injury attorneys will have a better understanding of the protocols due to years of training and handling cases, some of which may have gone to trial.
Keep in mind that the judge in a trial won’t be forgiving if you display a lack of knowledge regarding the proceedings. If you don’t know how to properly submit evidence or support your case, this lack of knowledge and experience could do more harm to your case. Having an attorney to guide you through the process will help you learn more about the various courtroom procedures.
How an Attorney Can Help with a Personal Injury Case
Working with an attorney comes with multiple benefits. Choosing the right attorney can mean the difference between winning and losing a case, as you have someone by your side who understands what the proceedings entail, from initial filing to settlement.
With a reputable and experienced attorney, you may be able to benefit from:
- Additional time to focus on recovering while the attorney handles the filing process and associated paperwork
- Increased chances of reaching the highest possible settlement with an attorney who can accurately evaluate your case
- Reduced overall stress throughout the process, which can further help with recovery
Ultimately, before filing a personal injury claim, you’re better off consulting with an attorney in a free consultation. If you believe you have a case, consult with a lawyer who can discuss the details and help determine how to proceed.