When you get injured due to someone else’s negligence, you may be able to file a claim. The first step involves seeking medical attention after the injury. Then, you will contact an experienced personal injury attorney for legal guidance.
The attorney will evaluate your case to determine whether you have a valid claim against the other party. If established that your claim is valid, the personal injury lawyer will investigate the circumstances that led to the injury and prove fault.
In some cases, more than one party may be responsible for your injuries. The attorney’s responsibility is to maximize your claim, ensuring that all parties that contributed to your injury are liable for their negligent actions or inactions.
The lawyer will then collect crucial evidence to prove your case. This process may involve reviewing video surveillance footage, interviewing witnesses, taking pictures of the accident scene, obtaining expert opinion, etc.
The next step involves assessing your damages. These damages fall under two categories:
Economic damages: These are the kinds of damages that lead to financial losses and expenses. Examples include lost wages, loss of earning potential, medical bills, cost of caregiving, etc.
Non-economic damages: These are the kinds of damages that do not involve financial losses or expenses. In most cases, non-economic damages cannot be seen, but they exist. Examples include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, etc.
Sometimes, the attorney might see it fit to file a claim later than sooner. For instance, an experienced attorney will wait until their client attains maximum medical improvement, also known as MMI.
This term refers to the point where medical professionals believe that no further improvement for the patient is possible. The main goal of waiting until the patient reaches MMI is to maximize the claim. This is because filing a claim prematurely could free the negligent party from any future liability.
For example, suppose the accident victim accepts settlement for a particular injury and signs the release of settlement agreement. In that case, you cannot reopen the case when they realize they need additional compensation to settle their medical expenses or other damages caused by the injury in question.
Once the attorney has created a strong case against the other party, they will file a claim with their insurer. The insurance provider will respond to the claim, usually to negotiate a reasonable settlement. However, there are times when the other party completely refuses to cooperate with the plaintiff’s attorney. In that case, filing a lawsuit might be the only way to recover the settlement.
When the attorney files a lawsuit against the defendant, the case is presented before a judge. But even before the official hearing or trial, both parties might be required to attend a deposition. As mentioned earlier in this article, a deposition allows both parties to review evidence and witnesses to the case.
This step helps give both parties a fair chance at trial by avoiding surprises. It also allows both parties to prepare their cases based on available evidence and witness statements.
In personal injury cases, in particular, deposition helps confirm certain facts of the case. Examples of these facts include:
- The location of the accident
- The injuries suffered by the plaintiff
- Strengths and weaknesses of the arguments in the case
- How the injury occurred