A personal injury lawsuit typically arises when an individual suffers harm and holds someone else responsible. It is common for victims to feel daunted about filing personal injury cases, given that they may lead to court trials. However, data released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics suggests that more than 95% of these cases never make it to court and are settled informally.
Possible Outcomes of Personal Injury Cases
If you wish to file a personal injury case, you may expect one of two basic outcomes.
- Informal settlement. It is fairly common for those involved in personal injury cases to resolve their disputes informally. This usually happens by involving those directly affected by the case, their legal representatives, as well as their insurers. Both parties go through negotiations to arrive at a mutual decision. A written agreement ensures that both sides cannot take any further legal action once the agreed upon terms are met.
- Lawsuit. Unlike criminal cases that the government files, a personal injury lawsuits falls under civil litigation. It begins when an individual (plaintiff) files a formal complaint in court against another individual, a business, or a government agency (defendant). The complaint suggests that the defendant acted irresponsibly or carelessly and caused injury or damage to the plaintiff. A jury or a judge gets to decide the outcome of such cases.
How Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Work?
The first thing you need to do upon getting injured is seek medical assistance. Then, follow these steps.
- Contact an attorney. Look for a civil litigation attorney who specializes in personal injury lawsuits. Your attorney will determine if you can hold the other party liable, assess your medical costs, and provide legal alternatives that you may pursue.
- File documents in court. Your attorney will file a case and submit the required documents, listing you as the plaintiff, and the party you’re suing as the defendant.
- Case discovery. During this formal process of exchanging evidence, both sides are allowed to submit lists of questions to each other as well as take sworn statements or dispositions. Depending on the specifics of your case, your attorney might need to consult with medical or accident reconstruction experts. Your attorney may also contact witnesses and collect their statements.
- Mediation. An existing of formal judge might oversee mediation of your case with the aim of avoiding trial. This process allows both parties to reach upon an informal agreement.
- Trial. Once a personal injury case goes to trial, it can days weeks or even months, and it is upon a jury or a judge to make a decision. If the defendant is held at fault, he or she needs to compensate the plaintiff according to the court’s instructions.
- Appeal. The losing party – be it the plaintiff or the defendant – has the right to file an appeal. The appeals process can take months to even years, depending on the intricacies of a case.
Statute of Limitations
As a plaintiff, you get a limited time period during which you may file a personal injury lawsuit because of statute of limitations. The time period, as defined by the statute of limitations, begins from the time of an injury of from when one finds out about an injury. If you plan to plan to recover punitive damages, it is imperative that you file your case within the given time period.
Statute of limitations surrounding how much time accident victims get to seek financial compensation for their injuries varies from one state to another, although it’s two years in most. It is one year in Louisiana, three years in Mississippi, four years in Nebraska, five years in Missouri, and six years in Maine. These, so you know, are not the only variations.
No matter whether you’ve been the victim of a road accident, a workplace accident, medical malpractice, legal malpractice, an animal bite, or any other type of personal injury, it might be worth your while to determine if you deserve monetary compensation, if you feel you do, contacting a personal injury attorney at the earliest might be in your best interest.