Handling a personal injury claim can be quite a daunting task. When there is a personal injury caused due to negligence or carelessness of another, it becomes necessary to file a claim in order to receive compensation for damages. All the stress involved in dealing with recovery, medical bills, and insurance can be quite taxing. And the process of filing an injury claim adds to the woes here, as there are so many things to take care of.
To save you from an arduous journey of trial and error and to give you a better understanding of the law, expert Miami personal injury attorneys at The Law Offices of Prosper Shaked have created a step-by-step guide to filing a personal injury claim.
Steps to File a Personal Injury Claim
1. Seek Medical Treatment
By visiting a medical professional, they will be able to give you an accurate diagnosis and determine the extent of injuries. They will also prescribe the right medicines or medications so as to ensure your injuries are treated appropriately.
This is important because, in personal injury claims, the victim must have been examined by a medical professional within six months from the date of the accident or injury. Secondly, if an injury does occur, it needs to be treated immediately. Your doctor will give you advice on the type of treatment you need. If you are unable to get the recommended treatment, you will have a tough time proving your injury in court.
2. Consult an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
If you are filing a small personal injury claim, such as no injury or one-time hospital visit, you can settle that yourself. However, in case of a major accident or claim for multiple hospital visits, it’s recommended to contact a personal injury attorney.
In case you have decided to file a claim without hiring a lawyer, it’s recommended that you consult an experienced attorney at least to discuss your claim. This will help you to be aware of specific legal requirements such as limitations or how to maximize your compensation. Remember, you might get stuck even with a minor accident due to complexities.
Once you have finished proper medical treatment, you must consider documenting all the damages, injuries, and medical treatments related to the accident. It’s helpful to collect evidence related to the cause of the accident. You should also collect evidence on the effects of the accident or injury on your life. Hospital visits, long-term health impacts, lost work, medical bills, etc., should be noted.
4. Investigate Accident & Injuries
When you’re working with an attorney, s/he will start by interviewing the claimant to understand more about the details of injuries, accidents, and medical treatment. They may request records that you may have received. An attorney may work with accident reconstruction specialists or other experts to help build your case.
5. Demonstrate Negligence
Most personal injury cases center around negligence or a failure to use reasonable care that could have caused harm to another person. While such negligence must be established, it can be difficult for the plaintiff to prove negligence when filing an injury claim on their own. Luckily, an experienced personal injury attorney can help clients to navigate easily through these intricacies.
6. Serve Notice of Claim
When you decide to pursue a personal injury claim, you or your attorney must inform all the involved parties of your intent to file the suit. This step is called – Service of Process. Mostly, the notice is delivered personally through a professional process server, court official, or law enforcement officer.
7. Start Settlement Talks
Before going to court, a claimant’s attorney may make a settlement demand to the defendant’s attorney or insurance company. In such a situation, the two attorneys will negotiate a settlement that is acceptable to both parties. While most injury claims are settled at this point, sometimes a settlement cannot be reached without a lawsuit.
8. Filing a Lawsuit
Litigation starts when the plaintiff and his/her attorney file a personal injury lawsuit in court to initiate the discovery phase. In this phase, each party investigates the claims and defenses of the other party. Also, both parties must respond to all the information requests as thoroughly and truthfully as possible. The discovery phase can last up to a year as it involves lots of documentation.
After the discovery phase ends, both parties have another opportunity to settle the case. This stage is known as mediation. At this stage, both parties meet along with a neutral third party (mediator). The mediator will try to resolve the case in a manner that satisfies both the parties involved. However, if the case is not resolved through mediation, the case advances to trial.
Although it can be an uphill task if you have never filed a personal injury claim, it’s equally confusing and stressful even if you have filed one. Therefore, if you have any confusion or to maximize your compensation, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to file your claim.