You may never need to understand the basics of personal injury law, but if you are ever in an accident, you may need a quick lesson.
In this article I will explain what is involved in this specific law focus, as well as outlining what can occur when you are a victim of someone else’s carelessness or negligence.
What is the definition of personal injury and under what circumstances can a person file a claim?
The definition of a personal injury is when someone is injured because of his or her own fault or because of the fault of someone else. In order for a person to file a personal injury claim against a person and/or their insurance company, the injury has to be the fault of a third party, the “someone else”. The injury has to be due to that person’s irresponsibility, negligence, or recklessness.
Other criteria for a personal injury claim to be viable include the following:
- If the injury was caused by someone’s carelessness, is there proof of negligence? For example, did an injury occur to the victim because someone ran a red light and then received a traffic ticket?
- Was the victim’s injury serious enough to require costly medical care?
- Did the negligent party have insurance or enough assets to cover the injury and loss to the victim?
What legal actions are available to a victim of a personal injury?
There are several different legal options available to a victim of personal injury. Some are more complex than others. Regardless of what route a victim takes, it is my experienced opinion that he should retain the services of an experienced personal injury lawyer. It is a proven fact that those who use a personal injury attorney to help them with their claim receive far greater compensation than if they tried to do it on their own.
Reaching a settlement out of court: A personal injury lawyer will first investigate if the victim has a viable claim. Once confirmed, the attorney assesses the extent of the victim’s injuries. Next, he contacts the wrong-doers’ insurance company to file a personal injury claim. If there is no relevant insurance, the attorney will investigate the at-fault party’s assets.
If the tortfeasor admits his guilt and there is sufficient insurance to cover the victim’s damages, the personal injury attorney will file a claim with the insurance company, with the aim of settling the personal injury case out of court through discussions with all lawyers, individuals, and insurance companies involved. Note that a defendant can be an individual, a business, a company, a corporation, or a government agency.
In successful settlement cases, the defendant (the at-fault party) normally agrees to pay the plaintiff (the victim) a specified amount of money for his injuries and losses. Importantly, when the plaintiff signs off on the settlement, he is agreeing not to file a lawsuit.
Mediation or Arbitration: If both parties are unable to reach an out-of-court settlement, the next step before filing a lawsuit can be through mediation or arbitration. In this scenario, attorneys and their respective clients agree to discuss and debate the personal injury claim in front of an impartial legal representative. An experienced personal injury attorney will recommend either mediation or arbitration because either is far less costly than a lawsuit and can normally be settled fairly quickly, if all parties can reach an agreement.
Filing a lawsuit: When all else fails, it may be time for the personal injury attorney to discuss filing a lawsuit with the client. If all agree that the benefits far outweigh the risks, the lawyer will file a lawsuit in the proper court. Filing a lawsuit may also be necessary if the defendant denies guilt, refuses to agree to a settlement proposed by his insurance company or if he refuses to participate in mediation or arbitration.
As you can see from the above, being successful in receiving just compensation for a personal injury claim requires the help of a trustworthy, experienced personal injury attorney with a proven record of success. Also, the last thing a suffering victim needs is to add more stress to his life by trying to get fairly compensated for his losses. Dealing with an insurance company or with an antagonistic at-fault party does not help the victim. The personal injury lawyer will take care of it all.
I hope you never need the services of a personal injury attorney, but if you do, an understanding of the basics of personal injury law will help you find an attorney you trust and you will know ahead of time what to expect in the process of resolving your claim.
Group Matrix Blog – November 7, 2017 – by Sharon Bowles