Filing a personal injury lawsuit is not a walk in the park for many victims. It involves a lengthy process that many people are not quite familiar with. It comprises complex law issues and events that you didn’t know about. However, that does not have to worry you. If you suffered an injury as a result of another party’s negligence or direct actions, then you deserve damage compensation.
Personal injury cases differ depending on the accident that caused the injury. They vary from the common motor vehicle accidents, to wrong medical prescriptions, consumption of defective products among others. As a potential plaintiff therefore, you need to understand what lawsuit you are filing and how such cases are determined. You may require the services of an attorney to increase the probability of building a strong case. The following therefore are seven steps that you must follow when filing such a lawsuit:
- Early preparations for the lawsuit; early preparations are very important in making your case stand. Despite the fact that the accident may have affected your physical and psychological well-being, making sure you collect all necessary details from the scene of the accident is very important. The following is the information that will be necessary;
- Events in which the accident occurred.
- Names and contacts of all witnesses with first hand information on the events of the accident.
- Police officers available at the scene of the accident.
- All expenses that you suffered as a result of the accident. Make sure expenses are properly documented since the documents will serve as valid evidence in the damage claim or settlement negotiation in the future.
- Hiring an attorney; a personal injury attorney is very necessary, especially if you have insufficient knowledge of personal injury law. Also, if your damage claim exceeds the small claims limit, then hiring an attorney should be a priority. The attorney will do the following in preparation;
- Gather any available facts and conclude the viability and strength of your case.
- Gather the insurance information of the defendant. He will investigate on the insurance details and collect necessary information about the defendant’s insurance company.
Most plaintiff lawyers agree on a contingency fee where they only get paid if you get compensated. Therefore, hiring one is a good step in preparing your lawsuit.
- File or issue your claim in a court; you may also file the claim in the state that the defendant or the party you are suing is connected. In the claim, you will explain in detail the events or circumstances that led to the accident. You also explain the consequences of the accident that should be compensated. The document is referred to as a statement of claim.
- Issuance of statement of defence; this is the document in which the defendant explains his version of the accident. It is a response to your statement of claim. Depending on the state, you or your attorney might be required to locate and submit the claim together with all available summons to the defendant. In other states a state official does it.
- Evidence protection; in a personal injury case, the evidence is very perishable. It deteriorates, loses strength or even dies with time. Unfortunately, most personal injury cases take a lot of time before the hearing begins. You therefore have to safeguard all information as well as witnesses that you have. Such evidence includes the clothing you were in during the accident, medical reports and expenses, any property damaged during the accident among others.
- Witness and evidence preparation; after the statement of defence has been issued, a hearing date will be set. With the help of your attorney, gather your witnesses and prepare them for the hearing as well as the trial. Making sure your witnesses are available from the beginning of your case is very important. However, most of them will not be willing to appear in court due to fear of negative consequences.
- Exchange of evidence; you and the defendant will share the available evidence. You may notice some investigations being carried on you by the defendant and their attorney too. However, this should not compromise your rights of privacy. The defendant may have you accessed by doctors too to determine the facts on the extent of your injury. Sometimes, the parties involved may agree to an out of court settlement. If the settlement negotiations fail or a viable agreement is not reached, the hearing and trial will proceed.
This process maybe quite tedious, especially if you have not fully recovered from the injury. However, following the steps will ensure you are awarded satisfactory damage compensation.