Personal injury is one of those broader legal categories that’s tough to pinpoint. From slip and fall accidents to fender benders, there are as many types of personal injury cases as there are ways to get hurt. As such, no two cases really look alike. There are some key concerns surrounding personal injury claims, from the severity of the injuries to determining if someone is at fault. If you are deciding to pursue a personal injury claim, here’s how to get started.
Gathering Insurance Information
If you believe your injuries stem from someone else’s wrongdoing, the first thing you need to do is gather their insurance information. If you fall on someone’s property, find out if the owner has liability insurance. If you’re in a car accident, determine whether or not the driver is insured. This is a key step because if you’re dealing with a person who is uninsured, chances are you won’t be able to collect any damages awarded by a jury during a trial, especially if the offending party doesn’t have any assets to their name.
If your injuries are serious and it’s obvious that another party is legally responsible, you should proceed with legal action whether or not they have insurance. On the other hand, if your injuries are minor or covered by your own insurance and the offending party is uninsured, legal action may be more time and effort than it’s ultimately worth. That’s up to you to decide.
Barring a case where you have less significant injuries and your insurance coverage is able to effectively resolve the situation, it’s a good idea to at least contact a personal injury lawyer for a consultation. Many attorneys are more than happy to provide a free initial consultation. At this point, they’ll lay out your legal options and discuss the specifics of your case. Depending on the severity of your injuries and the amount of money at stake, this is a crucial step towards a successful resolution.
Keep in mind that hiring a personal injury attorney is different than having a lawyer on retainer. In most personal injury agreements, lawyers work on a contingency basis. This means you pay nothing unless there are damages awarded to you or a settlement in your favor. You then pay your attorney a previously discussed percentage of the money as a fee for services rendered. While this seems like a win-win scenario, some personal injury lawyers charge much higher percentages than others, so do your research before hiring one.
The majority of personal injury cases are resolved before a lawsuit is ever filed. Many cases are settled out of court without the need for a trial. When insurance coverage is in play for both parties, your attorney may advise you to file a third-party claim to seek damages from the offender’s insurance agency. If you gathered the responsible party’s name and insurance information, send a notice to their agency with those details, your information, the date of the incident, and your intent to file a claim due to your injury. Don’t worry too much about the specifics— those will come later if the process moves towards settlement negotiations.
If negotiations aren’t proceeding in a timely fashion or the claim is stalled, it’s time to consider a personal injury lawsuit. Your attorney will walk you through the exact steps, but one important factor is your local statute of limitations. If you intend to pursue legal recourse, you need to strike while the iron is hot to up your chances of a favorable outcome.
A Path to Recovery
Navigating a personal injury claim is a tricky process. From knowing when to hire an attorney to deciding whether or not to file a lawsuit, personal injuries are overwhelming, to say the least. Do your research to determine your best course of action. Focus on your health and recovery, as well. You’ll be back on track to better peace of mind sooner than you think.