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How does a personal injury claim process work?

How does a personal injury claim process work?

The personal injury claim process begins with an injury resulting from another person’s negligent actions, or their failure to act, such as with a car, bike, or motorcycle accident, a dog-bite, or a slip and fall. These types of accidents can result in one’s need of a personal injury lawyer. Personal injury lawyers work to ensure that their client receives the damages or money award that he or she may be entitled to receive for their injuries because of the accident.

When someone is injured, their first step should be to get proper medical attention. Not only will seeing a medical physician help diagnose and treat injuries, but one’s trip to their physician’s office will also be documented along with their injuries.

The second step is to find and retain a personal injury lawyer. It is highly recommended to find and retain a personal injury lawyer soon after an accident takes place. Personal injury lawyers will handle the legal aspect of one’s claim, allowing the injured person’s focus to remain solely on their physical and mental recovery.

If one waits too long to get an attorney, they risk running the statute of limitations for their claim. In general, the statute of limitations in the state of California is two years from the date of the injury for most accidents – of course there are instances in which it is much shorter. If a claim is not filed within the two-year period, then a person may not be able to ever bring the case in court and may not get compensated.

Once a personal injury lawyer has been retained, the gathering of preliminary information and evidence will be vital to the claim. The information that should be provided to the personal injury lawyer includes but is not limited to:

  • A timeline or description of events of the accident
  • What type of accident took place?
  • Who was involved in the accident?
  • When and where did the accident happen?
  • Were there witnesses at the scene of the accident?
  • If the police were called, was a police report filed?
  • Insurance information for those involved in the accident.
  • Medical information and description of any injuries sustained in the accident.
  • If any insurance carriers, attorneys, or defendants have been in contact.
  • Once the preliminary details of the claim have been gathered, and fault and liability have been determined, the personal injury lawyer will likely prepare and send a demand letter to the party at fault and or to their insurance agency. This demand letter also notifies the receiving party of the injured person’s intent to recover damages for the injuries that they sustained. If the demand letter is ignored or rejected, the personal injury lawyer may likely file a claim for damages with the court. The claim they will file will likely be in the form of a legal complaint.

    When a claim is filed with the court, the person who was injured in the accident, and whom the claim is being filed on behalf of, is called the “plaintiff”, while the person who injured the plaintiff is called the “defendant”. Once a claim has been filed and the defendant or his representative has responded to the claim, lawyers from each side will examine the facts and evidence that has been gathered through the process known as discovery.

    In most cases, the claim settles out of court. In other words, the injured party drops their claim from the court in return for a sum of money called a settlement. However, should a defendant refuse to negotiate or cooperate with the claim, or if the plaintiff does not wish to accept the settlement because it is too low, then one has the right to take the case to trial. In a trial, a judge or jury will have the authority to determine if and how much compensation a person should receive for their injuries.

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