When faced with the decision to take legal action if you have an injury, you might feel reluctant to go to court. Considering the stress you are going through with doctor appointments, physical therapy, surgery, and other complications resulting from your accident, it is understandable to be wary of your personal injury claim going to court.
Going to court can feel like an intimidating process. It is time-consuming, and you might feel like you are reliving the injury when you gather information to argue your case. The answer might surprise you about how the process works most of the time.
A judge will probably not try your case, as most personal injury cases find resolutions through mediation or negotiation. According to national statistics, only about 5 percent of personal injury cases go to court. The rest settle in a pre-trial settlement.
By hiring an attorney, you can become better educated about the process and your options, with the benefit of having legal counsel to represent you in negotiations and throughout a trial.
What Are Some Types of Personal Injury Claims?
Personal injury is any injury that can occur to you due to no fault of your own. Someone else is usually responsible, either directly such as an automobile injury, or due to negligence.
Here are some personal injury cases and how they affect the injured.
- Slip and fall injuries: a prime example of a business owner or proprietor not providing adequate coverage to make an area safe for passage. Slip and fall injuries can result from ice, spills, standing water, or other hazards that can cause falls. A property owner or caretaker is responsible for the safety of their patrons and visitors to indicate these dangers and clean them up as soon as possible. Neglecting to do so can change a life forever.
- Truck injuries: Trucks haul millions of tons of product from coast to coast each year. Drivers should adhere to the rules of the road and pass rigorous training courses to ensure that their vehicles are not dangerous to others. Sometimes companies cut corners to save money by hiring poorly trained workers, drivers who take substances to increase their time on the road, and ignoring safety equipment or procedures. The consequences can be dire, and the trucking companies need to be held accountable for damages done to you to save a buck.
- Automotive injuries: Each year, thousands of people sustain injuries in automobile accidents. The resulting hospital bills, injuries, and permanent disabilities sum up to billions of dollars. There is an expectation that those who have survived an accident, even through no fault of their own, have to recoup the damages on their own. An attorney can help you piece your life back together. The force of two vehicles colliding or a car striking a pedestrian are events that will forever change the direction of the victim’s life. A lawyer can help you with the process from beginning to end to ensure you receive compensation.
- Motorcycle injuries: Motorcycles are iconic to a life of freedom and personal expression. However, motorcycles lose more often than not when it comes to highway collisions. Motorcycle accidents are responsible for some of the most severe vehicle related injuries because the other drivers may have difficulty seeing them. Motorcycles are also often subject to the conditions of the road, the ability of other drivers, and any number of factors. Surviving an accident is just the beginning. Rehabilitation, surgeries, and even permanent disabilities are often the result of a motorcycle crash.
- Work-related injuries: Each day we go to work, we don’t usually think we are putting our safety into someone else’s hands. Federal and state regulations have gone a long way in protecting the health and well-being of workers, but often, employers have resorted to cutting corners to save money. Some workplaces are unnecessarily hazardous, with inadequate training, safety infrastructure, and dangerous, improperly maintained equipment. These workplaces could have prevented many of these injuries, and litigation is one way to make sure that you receive compensation for damages.
- Animal bites: Pet owners have a responsibility to their neighbors to keep their animals restrained and prevent them from hurting others. But each year, thousands of preventable injuries from animal attacks occur. Pet owners must be held liable for the losses incurred by their animals. Bites can cause serious injury, disfigurement, permanent damage, and even death. A lawyer can help you navigate the landscape of courtrooms and mediation to ensure you receive compensation for your loss.
- Nursing home cases: We sometimes ask for help when it comes to the needs of our elders. When we entrust our loved ones with the caretakers at a nursing home, it is done so with the best interest of our family members at heart. Too often has this trust been broken at the expense of our elders, with neglect, dangerous facilities, and outright abuse leading to injuries or even death of our loved ones. Most of the time, these injuries could have been prevented but resulted from a nursing home neglecting its residents out of sheer greed.
What Are Some Damages for Personal Injury?
Depending on the nature of your injuries, your experience may range from less severe to life-changing. The death of a loved one might also be a situation you are struggling with.
Here are some injuries that are typical of a personal injury case:
- Broken bones
- Cuts and lacerations
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Cognitive damage
- Psychological damage/Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Pain and suffering
Any number of these injuries result in losses that compound due to the injury. Loss of work due to injury, hospitalization, and recovery can result in your inability to pay your bills and even jeopardize your ability to sustain your employment. Injuries might require lengthy rehabilitation, physical therapy, and multiple surgeries to regain motor function, range of motion, or a semblance of how your body functioned before the accident.
Chronic pain and a need to be on medication for enduring physical disabilities as a result of your trauma can require significant pain management programs, costly medicines, and psychological stresses connected to recovery. Pain and suffering throughout the process generally cannot have a price put on them, but they are significant nonetheless.
Permanent cognitive damage and physical disabilities can resort in lengthy emotional therapy and even cause depression and anxiety you will have to live with for the rest of your life. All because of someone’s carelessness in a fraction of a second that changed your life forever.
There is no price tag on one person’s losses and how their life has been affected. We can attempt to get compensation to pay medical bills, repair or replacement of property, make up for lost wages, and even afford to pay for continued treatment and vocational rehabilitation. Those sorts of things cost money, which insurance companies are reluctant to give up without a fight. That is why you need to call an attorney.
What Is the Process of a Personal Injury Claim?
If you are injured, the priority is to seek medical assistance. Your journey to recovery often begins with the life-saving efforts your doctors, surgeons, and first responders make.
In the confusion of treatment and recovery from your injuries, you might have your mind set on other important things but may not rank in priority compared to saving your life.
- Gathering information: This is an integral part of the process. Whether you have been injured in an automobile accident or slipped on a spill in a grocery store, you need to start documenting the scene of the injury. Take pictures—smartphones are handy here—and get witness contact information if possible. Get the contact information for responding police, paramedics, or firefighters. All of this information could become essential when arguing a case.
- Filing a police report: There is often a statute of limitations on personal injuries, depending on what they are. The sooner you file a report with law enforcement, and they can investigate the scene, the fresher your evidence will be for court. An attorney will know the ins and outs of when to file and the deadlines you might face.
- Contacting insurance companies: Generally, insurance companies will contact you if you get into an auto accident. With most injuries, an insurance company will offer you a settlement amount. It might seem like a lot of money depending on the extent of your injuries, but more often than not, insurance companies have only their bottom line and saving money at heart. As your medical bills accumulate, you may notice that the money doesn’t go very far, but by then, you have already signed away your rights, and it is too late. When the other party offers you a settlement, consulting an attorney is usually the ideal course of action. An attorney can help you determine whether or not a settlement amount is fair or even adequate to cover your expenses. In most cases, it isn’t.
If you don’t agree to the settlement amount, the case begins. An attorney can file the required paperwork to the courts to start the process. They will gather information from your account and any information provided by first responders, medical care providers, eyewitnesses, and other sources. They will use this information to create leverage when discussing the case with the insurance companies or opposing counsel. Sometimes both.
Mediation is when both parties sit down and discuss the case details, with disclosure around the event weighing heavy in the discussion. Mediation and negotiation often give both parties the greatest control in a personal injury case since a judge may look at the evidence differently, and a jury can also be unpredictable.
Negotiation and mediation allow both parties to come to a reasonable outcome without the expense of hiring professional witnesses, selecting a jury, or paying for experts to help argue the case one way or the other. Taking a case before a judge can take months and even years due to case overload in some areas. Settlements are often quicker and less stressful.
Most personal injury claims come to a resolution in mediation and negotiation, often with a cash settlement for damages. This amount is usually much higher than the insurance company’s initial offer to the victim of the accident. If neither party cannot agree during mediation, they can take the matter before a judge in a trial.
How Can an Attorney Help You in Your Personal Injury Case?
Gathering evidence, negotiating with opposing counsel, and preparing for a jury trial can be daunting. Combined with more pressing matters, such as your recovery and putting your life back together after an accident, you likely won’t have the time or resources to fight a case yourself.
That isn’t even mentioning the deadlines, hiring witnesses, and the method of arguing a case that the court requires. Many personal injury cases have a limited time frame until you can no longer file suit. Once the injury happens, the clock starts to tick away.
An attorney knows how the process works and has seen this before. They have a team of attorneys, paralegals, and other legal professionals who understand how the court system, negotiation, and arguing your case at the negotiation table and the courtroom best suit their client. If you have been injured and deserve compensation, an attorney can help you in your time of need.