Chain | Cohn | Clark on How to Make a Claim for Injury Compensation
Filing a Personal Injury Claim
If you are considering filing a lawsuit, the first thing you must determine is if you have the right to take action against the person or business you are looking to sue. By law, you can file a lawsuit against anyone who caused injury to you directly. If this is the case, you have legal standing to file a lawsuit.
Suppose both you—as a pedestrian—and a nearby cyclist were both hit by the same car. You now have a spinal cord injury but the cyclist walked away without injury. You can sue for damages, but the cyclist would not have a case. They did not suffer damages, but could still serve as a witness.
You must have a direct link to any lawsuit you seek to file.
What Is a Personal Injury Claim?
When one party is responsible for causing harm to a second party, there is likely grounds for a personal injury claim. An at-fault party’s insurance company may be responsible to pay for the injured party’s medical bills, pain and suffering, and other ongoing medical costs.
In cases involving medical malpractice, your attorney will work not only with the insurance companies and hospital attorneys, but also experts in the field who can testify on your behalf.
The personal injury lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Clark have the knowledge and experience to represent you in civil court no matter how severe your personal injury may be. Most cases are settled before litigation begins, but at-fault parties can be taken to court if necessary.
Why Should I File a Personal Injury Claim?
Personal injury claims usually result in one of two outcomes. This is true whether you are seeking damages for medical expenses or property damage.
- Formal lawsuit: Injury cases are often kickstarted by an individual seeking compensation for an injury from another individual or from a businesses or government entity. This is quite different from criminal cases, which are initiated by the government. In personal injury cases, the defendant must prove they did not act carelessly, irresponsibly, or negligently when they harmed the plaintiff.
- Informal settlement: Most injury law cases are settled long before they reach a courtroom. This occurs when insurers and attorneys work to negotiate both sides of a claim and agree on a settlement. A formal agreement will halt any further action and the agreed settlement amount will be distributed to the appropriate parties.
What Is a Statute Of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is the amount of time a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit. In California, most lawsuits have a two year (from the date of the incident) statute of limitations.
The longer you wait following your injury, the harder it will be for you and your attorney to organize information, testimonies, documents, and other case-related materials. Once your suit formally begins, this ticking clock stops and you will have as much time as you need to seek compensation.
If you are reading this outside of California, you should check your own state’s statute of limitations to ensure you don’t miss any important deadlines.
How to File a Personal Injury Claim
You must file a personal injury lawsuit in order to receive compensatory damages from any at-fault party. This can be incredibly complicated if you’ve never filed this type of lawsuit before and is likely to require a great deal of trial and error on your part.
We recommend you call one of our experienced personal injury lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Clark so they can guide you through the process of filing a personal injury claim.
Step 1: Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
The first thing you should do is contact a personal injury attorney with a long history of success. Certainly, a small claim can be settled on your own. This may be an incident that only led to one hospital visit or a minor injury. Still, major accidents and trauma requiring multiple hospital visits will probably require extra action to recover the costs for your medical treatment and/or pain and suffering.
It is always a good idea to discuss your case with a lawyer, even if you ultimately choose not to hire one. A knowledgeable attorney can be an incredible asset to your case. Your accident may seem small, but a good lawyer can enlighten you on the more complex, bigger picture.
Step 2: Identify the Parties & Insurance You Want to Claim
Your attorney must inform the at-fault party, their insurance provider, and their attorneys that you are taking action against them. In some cases, your lawyer may be able to expedite the claim.
Step 3: Gather Information
While you are receiving medical treatment, you should gather as much information as possible about your injuries. During this time and after, you should keep tabs on your medical records, invoices from doctors, and speak with your healthcare providers so you fully understand your injuries. They should be able to inform you about what further medical treatments you will likely need. You should also collect invoices for any accident-related property damage.
Step 4: Negotiate a Settlement
Before filing a lawsuit, your attorney can demand compensation from the at-fault party or their insurance carrier. Negotiating personal injury cases is not much different than negotiating your payment for a car at a used car dealership. In cases like these, each side knows what they want and knows what they believe the case’s worth to be.
As the claimant, you know what you would be willing to accept. The respondent knows how much they are willing to pay. The problem, however, is that you rarely know what the other side is thinking. As such, negotiation will occur as both sides try to reach a fair agreement. This compromise can prevent many cases from going all the way to court.
Step 5: File Lawsuit (If No Settlement Is Reached)
Most personal injury cases are settled long before any trial might occur. But unfortunately, if a compromise cannot be reached, a lawsuit becomes inevitable.
We’ve broken down the trial process for you to help you better understand what decisions to make, which will increase your chances of success. The lawsuit process follows these four steps:
- Lawsuits begin when a complaint for damages is filed. It should be a written document that showcases your claims and how much money you are seeking as compensation. This should be an exact number with documents and research to back it up.
- Information is exchanged between the two parties in the lawsuit during the litigation phase. You will likely have to undergo a deposition, which means testifying under oath about your injuries. Your recorded deposition will likely be used during the trial.
- Once the trial begins, the intensity will increase. A jury will determine which pieces of evidence are of value. It is important to work with a lawyer who has experience with thorough research and who works with trusted experts for case analysis
- Should you win the case, the judge or jury will determine a fair monetary value to award you. Many people believe it is a judge who decides the case. But unless the case is deemed a bench trial—in which case the judge does decide—it is up to the jury to determine which side wins.
What’s the Difference Between a Personal Injury Claim & Lawsuit?
A claim is a legal call for compensation from the at-fault party or their insurance company. A lawsuit is a legal action in court where a plaintiff is pursuing a defendant for compensation.
It may seem easier to settle a claim than file a lawsuit, but our team at Chain | Cohn | Clark has everything you need to succeed if you pursue litigation.
Want Help Filing a Personal Injury Claim? Contact Chain | Cohn | Clark
In our everyday lives, people usually do their best to avoid injuring others. In fact, we are actually required by law to exercise reasonable care in certain areas of our lives. For instance, all motorists in California must comply with traffic laws and behave reasonably at all times while on the road.
While many people are careful to abide by these rules and take precautionary measures when driving, accidents still can and do occur. Some of these accidents can leave victims suffering from serious, and even deadly injuries that can take a significant physical, financial, and emotional toll on victims and their family members.
Fortunately, accident victims who were injured as a result of someone else’s negligent or reckless conduct can recover damages from the at-fault party by filing a personal injury suit against them in court.
So if you or a loved one were injured in an accident, you should consider speaking with the experienced legal team at Chain | Cohn | Clark. We can help you seek compensation for your losses.