It is not uncommon for someone to want justice for the injuries they have suffered due to the negligence of another person or party. These unfortunate occasions account for a large portion of civil litigation cases (including personal injury cases) and are a way for individuals to receive compensation for their injuries. In fact, the U.S. Department of Justice has reported that there are over 400,000 personal injury claims each year.
Before you file a claim, it is important to know whether the accident you have been involved in will actually be considered a personal injury accident.
A personal injury is a legal term for an injury to a person’s body, mind or emotions, or reputation instead of an injury to property. This term is most commonly used to refer to a type of tort lawsuit where a person who brings the suit has suffered damages (or harm) to their body or mind. There are three main issues that every personal injury claim involves: liability, fault, and damages. You must be able to prove these are connected, meaning that the defendant is responsible for the injuries that you have suffered. A defendant could have caused an accident that resulted in your injuries through negligence, gross negligence, reckless conduct, or intentional misconduct and, in some cases, on the basis of strict liability. No matter what type of negligence was done, if you believe that you can prove liability, fault, and damages simultaneously, then you have grounds to file a personal injury claim.
Although filing a claim can be daunting, hiring an experienced personal injury attorney can help make the complicated legal process less frightening. Our personal injury attorneys at The Cochran Firm are prepared to fight for you and help you receive the compensation you deserve.
Common Personal Injury Cases
There are many different types of personal injury cases. Your injury could qualify for a personal injury case depending on the type of accident you or a loved one has suffered from. Some examples of personal injury cases include:
- Automobile Accidents
- Trucking Accidents
- Premises Liability
- Medical Malpractice
- Product Liability
- Workplace Injury
- Nursing Home Abuse
- Aviation Injury
- Boating/Maritime Injury
- Police Misconduct
- Dangerous Drugs & Medical Devices
Out of all of these personal injury cases, the most common are automobile accidents. In fact, they make up more than half of all cases (52%). These can include anything from vehicle accidents to being hit by a motorcycle. The remaining 48% of cases are made up of medical malpractice cases (15%), product liability (5%), and other (28%).
When someone is hurt due to someone else’s negligence, serious injuries can follow. These injuries can include:
- Brain injury
- Burn injuries
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord injury
- Scarring & disfigurement
- & more
When you sustain one of these injuries, you will most likely face impending medical expenses, the inability to work, and pain and suffering. This is why the personal injury attorneys at The Cochran Firm fight for the maximum compensation legally possible. We seek damages well beyond the minor offerings insurance companies usually make. The type of injuries that people commonly suffer may include:
- Medical & rehabilitation expenses
- Home care & retrofit modifications
- Adaptive technology
- Lost wages (current and future)
- Quality of life adjustments
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
If you have suffered any of these injuries in an accident, then you most likely need to file a personal injury claim.
Things To Know Before You File a Personal Injury Claim
If you have never filed a personal injury claim, it may seem difficult to understand. You also might not know what to expect. Here are some things you should know before you file a claim.
1. Personal Injury Lawsuits Were Made To Protect You
After you suffer an injury, there are many things that you will be faced with: medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and more. Personal injury lawsuits were created to protect the rights and financial hardships that injury victims face. With the help of an experienced personal injury attorney, you may be able to receive compensation through a settlement with a defendant or even at trial.
2. Call Sooner Rather Than Later
An experienced personal injury attorney will help protect you from making costly mistakes like revealing too much information to an insurance claims adjuster or failing to document any injury you have suffered. The right attorney can help you navigate the complex legal process as well as communicate with the insurance provider for you. Also, the sooner you contact a legal professional, the more likely you are to remember specific details about your injury, including any witness information, relevant receipts, and any other evidence.
3. Injury Victims That Hire An Attorney Recover More Punitive Damages
According to the Insurance Research Council, those that hire an attorney on average receive 3-3.5 times more money than those that try to settle a claim by themselves. Personal injury attorneys know how to correctly value claims and understand what it takes to negotiate a successful settlement. If the insurance provider is not willing to negotiate fairly, your attorney can present your case in the best way before a judge and jury.
4. Refrain from Signing Anything Before Consulting An Attorney
There is the chance that an insurance adjuster will try to convince you that an attorney is not necessary. However, it is essential to remember that insurance companies usually have only their best interest in mind, not yours. Many insurance companies would rather work with you directly in hopes that they can settle for way less than what your case is worth. This is why it is crucial not to sign anything until you speak with a personal injury attorney, as doing so may prevent you from receiving the compensation you really deserve.
5. You Have Limited Time to File a Claim
Each state has a statute of limitations (a limited time frame for filing a personal injury claim against a defendant). These statutes vary depending on the state, so it is crucial to hire a personal injury attorney sooner rather than later so that you don’t miss the deadline for filing in your state.
6. Establishing Negligent Behavior Is Of Greatest Importance
In order to establish a personal injury claim, it is essential to prove that your injuries are the direct result of someone else’s negligence or failure to exercise reasonable care for your injuries. If another person or party acted negligently and caused your injury, they most likely will be held liable for any damages that follow the accident. These damages can include lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, and more.
7. Personal Injury Claims Can Be Cumbersome
These cases are very complicated, therefore settlements and trials (in the instance your claim leads to a trial) can take many months, if not years, to end. To make matters worse, insurance providers sometimes try to prolong the process in hopes that you will give in and settle for a lesser offer. It’s crucial to remember that you should never settle for less than your claim is worth. Our experienced personal injury attorneys are dedicated to resolving your case as quickly and efficiently as they can, resulting in the best possible outcome for you.
8. It’s Hard to Value a Claim Without Examining the Facts
Many factors will influence a claim’s value, such as the severity of the injury and the occurrences surrounding the accident. It is challenging to determine the value of a claim without first examining all of the facts of the case. However, our experienced personal injury attorneys have a history of success and understand exactly how to value a claim.
9. A Case Can Be Won Two Different Ways
Personal injury lawsuits can either be settled out of court or ruled on a trial. Settlement is an agreement between the plaintiff and defendant on how much compensation the plaintiff will receive. On the other hand, a verdict is a decision made in court by a judge or jury. This means that if a settlement is not agreed upon, your attorney can still recover the compensation you deserve.
Now that you know the important details that a personal injury claim will involve let’s look at a step-by-step guide on how to file a personal injury claim below.
How To File a Personal Injury Claim
It is important to note that no two cases will follow the same course or timeline. Personal injury law covers a broad range of incidents, so it is not dependent on the type of incident that occurred as much as it does the severity of the resulting injuries, the clarity of specific issues, who was at fault, and whether or not an insurance policy covered the incident.
The basic idea of filing a lawsuit is very straightforward: to inform the court and the defendant (the person that is being sued) of the foundation of your case within a reasonable time. Although the court you have chosen and the state you are in may change the finer details of the case, the basic concepts of a personal injury case are universal.
The most crucial part of any accident case is your health. Before you do anything, seek the medical attention you need. Then, when you are ready, start thinking about pursuing a personal injury claim for your injuries.
Step 1: Seek Medical Treatment
As mentioned above, the most important thing to do immediately after being injured in an accident is to seek medical treatment. Sometimes people may think that because they do not feel any symptoms immediately following the accident, there is no reason to get checked out. Although you may not experience any pain or discomfort immediately or shortly after your accident, you could potentially find yourself in severe pain a year or more later.
Not to mention, refusing medical treatment will only hurt you in terms of being compensated for any injuries you do suffer. The responsible person or party’s insurance provider will most likely use the fact that you did not seek medical treatment after the accident against you and call into question the severity of your injuries and your claim for compensation.
Step 2: Consult A Knowledgeable Personal Injury Attorney
In particular small personal injury claims, it is possible to settle by yourself. For example, if you are involved in a minor accident and you are either not injured, or your injury only requires a one-time hospital visit.
But, if you have been involved in a major accident and the treatment for the injuries you suffered because of that accident are ongoing or involve numerous visits to the doctor and/or hospital, then you most likely need a personal injury attorney to help you receive compensation for your medical treatment.
Even if you choose not to hire an attorney, we still advise you to consult one to discuss your claim. There are many requirements that you may not be aware of, like the statute of limitations. No matter how minor you believe your accident or injury was, you may come to find that your claim is a bit more complicated than you thought.
Step 3: Set Up Your Claim
Once you have contacted or hired a personal injury attorney of your choice, it is time to start filing a personal injury claim. During this process, you or your attorney’s job is to inform the person or party who is liable for your injuries and their insurance carrier that you plan on filing a claim. Doing this can sometimes help settle your claim quicker.
Step 4: Collect Detailed Information and Get Treatment for Your Injuries
After you have notified the correct parties, you should continue to receive medical treatment and collect as much information about your injuries and any other damages as you can. In layman’s terms, this is when you want to gather any medical records and invoices from medical professionals, communicate with your doctor to understand the full extent of your injuries, collect receipts and get estimates of any personal property or vehicle damage, document any lost income, etc.
Step 5: Negotiating a Settlement
Your attorney can make a demand for compensation to the responsible person or party, or their insurance provider, before or following filing a suit.
Negotiating a personal injury is not like negotiating with a car salesperson. Each party has an idea of what the claim is worth. You, the plaintiff, know how much you will accept, and the insurance provider knows how much or little they want to pay you. However, neither party knows what the other is thinking.
In order to end up at an amount that both parties agree on, the “back and forth” process will begin. This process consists of offers and counter-offers until one of the parties compromises or a lawsuit is filed, and the case goes on to trial.
Step 6: A Settlement is Agreed Upon or a Lawsuit is Filed
When your negotiation has reached a settlement that you are satisfied with, you and your attorney will accept the offer. But, if the defendant does not answer with an acceptable offer, you can choose to file a lawsuit to seek the amount of compensation you deserve.
Keep in mind that there are legal limits (statute of limitations) regarding how long you can wait to file your personal injury claim. If you miss this window of time and do not file a claim before this statute of limitations ends, you will never be able to file a personal injury claim for this specific accident and will lose your chance to receive compensation for your injuries and any losses sustained.
Step 7: Filing a Lawsuit
There are many personal injury claims that never go to trial because each party comes to an agreement before that is necessary. However, if you follow the previous six steps and it does not result in a settlement, a lawsuit will be necessary. If a lawsuit is needed, understanding the trial process before going to trial will assist you in making better decisions and improve your chance of being successful in your personal injury lawsuit.
The process of filing a lawsuit is:
- A lawsuit begins by filing a set of documents (a complaint) with the court, including your claims and how much money you are looking to receive as compensation. The complaint is a formal legal document identifying the legal and factual basis for your personal injury lawsuit. Once these are written, they are served to the defendant.
- Once the litigation period begins, information is exchanged between each party in the lawsuit. During this period of time, you will often be required to give a deposition, which just means testifying under oath about your injuries and having it recorded so that it can be used later in the trial.
- After the case goes to trial, the evidence will be presented to the court, and the jury will weigh contested issues of fact and decide which pieces of evidence they find viable. It is not uncommon for a personal injury case to last several days.
- Lastly, if you succeed, the judge or jury will determine how much compensation you will be awarded. It is a common misconception that when a personal injury lawsuit is filed, the judge determines your case. However, unless your case is tried in a “bench trial,” it is typically the jury who decides if you succeed in your lawsuit and the amount you will be compensated.
Although filing a lawsuit can sound scary, preparing yourself for what is to come can make it less nerve-racking. And you don’t have to do it alone. If you have been injured due to the negligence or wrongdoing of another, please contact our experienced personal injury attorneys today. Our attorneys have what it takes to help you navigate the claims process and help fight for the compensation you deserve during this trying time.
Why Choose The Cochran Firm Cleveland
Johnnie Cochran had long dreamed of creating a national law firm of men and women from all races, religions, creeds, and backgrounds to show how well we could all work together to make the world a better place. When Mr. Cochran started The Cochran Firm, his mission was “a journey to justice.” Today, with more than 35 offices across more than 20 states, the attorneys at The Cochran Firm Cleveland work every day to fulfill that dream and continue that mission by working for our clients with the same work ethic and dedication to justice exemplified by Mr. Johnnie Cochran himself.
The Cochran Firm is a diverse group of highly skilled and experienced lawyers that are dedicated to bringing high-quality representation to injured people and their families. The personal injury attorneys at The Cochran Firm Cleveland are among the nation’s most recognized and successful attorneys in the country. When navigating through the legal process, you deserve to have an experienced attorney by your side. Our personal injury attorneys at The Cochran Firm Cleveland know how to fight for you.
Here at The Cochran Firm Cleveland, our experienced personal injury attorneys are ready to help victims of accidents obtain the maximum compensation and financial recovery for all types of personal injuries that resulted in injuries. Our attorneys work closely with each of our clients using pooled resources and their access to legal expertise to ensure the most effective legal representation available is provided.
You need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney who has proven successful results in other similar cases to guide you through the process and help you to receive the monetary damages you are entitled to under the law. Our attorneys have won over $30 Billion in verdicts and settlements for our clients. At The Cochran Firm Cleveland, we have the offices, the experience, the results, and the resources to aid clients throughout the northeast Ohio.
If you’re looking for an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you pursue justice for your medical costs, lost work, lasting injuries, and more, please contact our attorneys at The Cochran Firm Cleveland today for your free, no-obligation initial consultation today. 216-333-3333.
A Personal Injury Claim Guide: What to Expect and How to File was originally published on wzakcleveland.com