More than 30 million accidental injuries occur in the US every year.
If you were injured recently, the courts can help you recover costs for your medical expenses if you can prove that someone else’s negligence caused your injury.
If you need to take legal action, you can learn more about this process with this guide on personal injury lawsuits. File your action the right way so that you can recover your expenses in a timely manner.
What Are Lawsuits?
Lawsuits are civil (not criminal) legal actions filed with a trial court system. A lawsuit allows an individual or company to resolve their disputes ranging from personal injury claims to business disputes. A jury or a judge or jury eventually decides the outcome of the case if both sides can’t negotiate a mutual resolution.
What Are Personal Injury Lawsuits?
A personal injury lawsuit is filed when you’ve been hurt as a result of someone else’s negligence or fault. Examples of personal lawsuits can include when you’re injured in a wreck or hurt at work. The courts provide a system where the victim can recoup their expenses with the help of a personal injury lawyer.
How to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you’re thinking of filing a personal injury lawsuit, follow these steps to prepare and execute your case. You’ll increase your chances of getting the optimal outcome for your case.
1. Get Medical Treatment
Seek medical attention immediately after your injuries. Sometimes an injury isn’t visible nor apparent right away. Scar tissue or swelling can form later once the accident is over. These later symptoms are referred to as delayed onset injuries.
2. Report the Accident
If you were injured in a wreck, call the local law enforcement office where your injury occurred. Law enforcement then completes their own investigation and creates a report that you can use as evidence in your case. This report can also be central to your case if the other party disagrees with the events as they occurred.
If you were hurt at work, notify your supervisor right away. You should also submit, in writing, the details of the circumstances of your injury. These details can include the following:
- How your injury took place;
- The extent of your injuries; and
- Other co-workers involved.
Summarizing and submitting these details within 30 days of the event can help your case and ensure you’ll receive workers’ compensation benefits.
3. Organize the Details of Your Case
Start the process of filing a lawsuit by “getting your own house in order.” Collect testimony from any witnesses who saw the accident. Snap photos of your injuries to show their extent.
Write down the facts of what happened as you remember them. This organization helps prepare the details for any personal injury lawsuit.
4. Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
A personal injury lawyer represents you throughout the legal process. They offer legal advice and other strategies to help you win your case. Attorneys, like the professionals at McMath Woods P.A., will lead you through various court proceedings like pretrial hearings, arbitration, and settlement negotiations.
5. Outline Your Demand for Compensation
Your personal injury lawyer can develop an outline of all the damages you received and how much it costs to correct all of them. This outline is called a demand for compensation letter.
A demand letter is mailed to the other party and their insurance company when you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit.
The other party then decides if they want to respond to this letter or ignore it. When your demand letter is ignored, your personal injury attorney files your complaint with the legal system where the responsible party lives.
6. File Your Legal Claim
A personal injury lawsuit begins when one party (or a “plaintiff”) files a “complaint” with the appropriate legal system. A complaint describes why the plaintiff thinks they deserve relief and how much relief (or other forms of money) they believe they are entitled to.
Lawsuits also identify the “defendant” (or other party being sued). When a plaintiff files a complaint, they will pay court filing fees. They also ask the court to serve a “summons” to the defendant.
“Summons” is the legal document that tells a defendant that someone has brought a complaint against them. This legal document also outlines any defendants involved in the case. A summons will also identify which court the case was filed in and the names of the plaintiff’s lawyer.
A summons or complaint must be personally served to all defendants. You can choose to deliver the summons yourself. It’s better (and safer) to hire a process server to perform this job on your behalf.
7. Negotiate a Settlement
If defendants and plaintiffs want to settle the dispute, then the lawsuit can be dropped. If this happens, then a plaintiff and defendant will meet during a process called mediation.
Lawyers from both sides will draft a document outlining expectations for each party. Expectations might address a payment schedule or other parameters. Over 90 percent of civil lawsuits settle during the mediation process.
What Are Your Next Steps?
If you still want to file your personal injury claim, get your case organized. Gather your witness testimony and other historical facts that describe the events as they happened to you.
Visit a local law library and ask for a book called the American Jurisprudence Pleadings and Practice Forms. In there, you’ll find examples of how to write a legal complaint. Find samples that address cases similar to your own.
Explore our blog if you have any other outstanding questions on filing personal injury lawsuits. You can access our resources and get the best outcome for your own individual case.