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A Personal Injury Claim Guide: What to Expect and How to File

It is not abnormal for someone to seek justice for the injuries they have suffered due to the carelessness of another person or party. These unfortunate situations account for a substantial portion of civil litigation cases (including personal injury cases) and are a way for people to receive reparation for their injuries. In fact, the U.S. Department of Justice has reported that there are over 400,000 personal injury claims every year. 

Prior to filing a claim, it is necessary to understand whether the accident you have been in will in fact be considered a  personal injury accident

Personal injury is the legal term for an injury to someone's body, mind or emotions, or reputation instead of an injury to property. This term is most commonly used to describe a type of tort suit where an individual who brings the lawsuit has suffered damages (or harm) to their body or mind. There are three main concerns that every accident claim involves: liability, fault, and damages. You need to be able to prove that these are linked, indicating 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, sometimes, on the basis of strict liability. No matter what kind of negligence has taken place, if you think that you can prove liability, fault, and damages concurrently, then you most likely have grounds to submit a personal injury claim.

Although filing a claim can be intimidating, working alongside a skilled personal injury lawyer can help make the complicated legal process less frightening. The personal injury lawyers at The Cochran Firm are ready to fight for you and help you get the settlement you deserve.

Common Personal Injury Cases

There are numerous kinds of personal injury cases. Your injury could qualify as a personal injury case depending upon the type of accident you or a loved one has suffered from. Some examples of personal injury cases consist of:

Out of all of the personal injury cases, the most common are automobile accidents. In fact, they make up more than half of all personal injury cases (52%). These can include anything from automobile accidents to being hit by a motorcycle. The remaining 48% of cases are comprised of medical malpractice cases (15%), product liability cases (5%), and other (28%).

When somebody is injured due to someone else's carelessness, severe injuries can follow. These injuries can include:

When you experience one of these injuries, you will probably face impending medical costs, the incapacity to work, and pain and suffering. Because of this, the personal injury lawyers at The Cochran Firm fight for the maximum reparation legally possible. They look for damages well beyond the minor offerings insurance provider normally make. The kind of injuries that people frequently 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 experienced 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 this is your first time filing a claim, it may appear challenging to comprehend. You also may not know what to anticipate. Here are some things you should understand prior to you filing a claim.

1. Personal Injury Lawsuits Were Made To Protect You

After you suffer an injury, there are numerous things that you will be faced with: medical costs, lost income, pain and suffering, and more. Personal injury lawsuits were created to protect the rights and financial hardships that injury victims deal with. With the help of a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer, you may be able to receive reparation through a settlement with a defendant or even at trial.

2. Call Sooner Rather Than Later

A skilled personal injury lawyer will help protect you from making expensive mistakes like revealing too many details about the accident to an insurance adjuster or failing to document an injury you have experienced. The right lawyer can help you navigate the complicated legal process and communicate with the insurance company for you. Also, the sooner you get in touch with a legal professional, the more likely you are to recall the specifics about your injury, including any witness details, relevant invoices, and any other evidence.

3. Injury Victims That Hire An Attorney Recover More Punitive Damages

According to the Insurance Research Council, those that hire a lawyer typically receive 3-3.5 times more money than those that try to settle a claim on their own. Personal injury lawyers understand how to properly value claims and know what it takes to negotiate a successful settlement. If the insurance company refuses to negotiate fairly, your lawyer 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 possibility that an insurance adjuster will try to persuade you that a lawyer is not necessary. However, it is important to keep in mind that insurance companies typically have only their best interest in mind, not yours. Many insurance companies would rather deal with you directly in hopes that they can settle for much less than what your case is worth. This is why it is extremely important not to sign anything until you speak with a personal injury lawyer, as doing so may prevent you from receiving the reparation you deserve.

5. You Have Limited Time to File a Claim

Each state has a statute of limitations (a limited time frame for submitting a personal injury claim against a defendant). These statutes differ depending upon the state, so it is important to hire a personal injury lawyer sooner rather than later so that you do not miss out on the deadline for filing in your state.

6. Establishing Negligent Behavior Is Of Greatest Importance

In order to initiate a personal injury claim, it is necessary to show that your injuries are the direct result of somebody else's neglect or failure to exercise reasonable care of your injuries. If another individual or party acted negligently and is at fault for your injury, they probably will be held liable for any damages that follow the accident. These damages can consist of lost earnings, medical bills, pain and suffering, and more.

7. Personal Injury Claims Can Be Cumbersome

Personal injury cases are very complicated; for that reason, settlements and trials (in the circumstance your claim leads to a trial) can take many months, if not years, to conclude. To make matters worse, insurance companies often try to extend the process in hopes that you will give in and settle for a lesser amount. It is essential to keep in mind that you must never settle for less than your claim is worth. The skilled personal injury attorneys at The Cochran Firm are committed to resolving your case as quickly and efficiently as they can, leading to the best possible outcome for you.

8. It’s Hard to Value a Claim Without Examining the Facts

Lots of factors will influence a claim's worth, such as the intensity of the injury and the incidents surrounding the accident. It is challenging to identify the value of a claim without first dissecting all of the facts of the case. However, the knowledgeable personal injury lawyers at The Cochran Firm have a history of success and understand just 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 exactly how much reparation the plaintiff will receive. On the other hand, a verdict is a decision made in court by a judge or jury. This suggests that if a settlement is not concurred upon, your attorney can still recover the reparation you deserve.

Now that you know the important information that accompanies a personal injury claim let's look at a detailed guide on how to file a personal injury claim.

How To File a Personal Injury Claim

It is necessary to keep in mind that no two cases will follow the same course or timeline. Personal injury law covers a variety of incidents, so it is not so much dependent on the kind of incident that took place as much as is the severity of the resulting injuries, the clarity of particular issues, who was at fault, and whether an insurance policy covered the incident.

The key concept of filing a lawsuit is very straightforward: to notify the court and the defendant (the individual that is being sued) of the structure of your case within a reasonable time. Although the court you have chosen and the state the accident took place in may change the finer details of the case, the standard principles of a personal injury case are universal. 

The most essential part of any accident case is your health. Before you do anything, seek the medical attention you need. Then, when you are ready, begin considering pursuing a personal injury claim for your injuries. 

Step 1: Seek Medical Treatment

As discussed above, the most important thing to do immediately after being hurt in an accident is to seek medical treatment. Sometimes individuals might think that because they do not feel any symptoms instantly following the accident, there is no reason to seek medical attention. Although you may not experience any pain or discomfort immediately or even shortly after your accident, you could potentially find yourself in extreme 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 company will more than likely use the fact that you did not seek medical treatment after the accident against you and bring into question the seriousness of your injuries and your claim for compensation.

Step 2: Consult A Knowledgeable Personal Injury Attorney

In certain small personal injury claims, it is possible to settle by yourself. For instance, if you are involved in a minor accident and you are either not hurt, or your injury only requires a one-time hospital visit.

However, if you have been involved in a major accident and the treatment for the injuries you have suffered due to the accident are ongoing or include numerous visits to a physician's office and/or hospital, then you most likely need a personal injury attorney to help you obtain reparation for your medical treatment.

Even if you choose not to hire an attorney, it is still a good idea to consult one to discuss your claim. There are many requirements that you may not know of, such as 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 complex than you thought.

Step 3: Set Up Your Claim

After you have contacted or hired a personal injury of your choice, it is time to start filing a personal injury claim. Throughout this process, the job of you or your lawyer is to inform the person or party who is responsible for your injuries and their insurance company that you plan on filing a claim. Doing this can often help settle your claim quicker.

Step 4: Collect Detailed Information and Get Treatment for Your Injuries

After you have informed the correct parties, you should continue to receive medical treatment and gather as many details 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 doctors, communicate with your doctor to understand the full extent of your injuries, gather invoices and get estimates of any personal property or vehicle damage, record any lost earnings, etc.

Step 5: Negotiating a Settlement

Your lawyer can make a demand for reparation to the responsible individual or party, or their insurance company, before or following filing a lawsuit.

Negotiating a personal injury is not like negotiating with an automobile salesperson. Each party has its own idea of what the claim is worth. You, the plaintiff, know how much you will settle for, and the insurance company knows how much or little they want to pay you. Nevertheless, neither party knows what the other is thinking.

In order to come to an amount that both parties agree on, the "back and forth" process begins. This process consists of offers and counter-offers until either party 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 finally reaches a settlement that you are satisfied with, you and your attorney will accept the offer. But, if the defendant does not respond with an appropriate offer, you can choose to submit a lawsuit to seek the payment your claim is worth.

Keep in mind that there are legal limits (statute of limitations) concerning the amount of time 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, unfortunately, will not be able to submit a personal injury claim for this particular accident and will lose your chance to receive reparation for your injuries and any losses sustained.

Step 7: Filing a Lawsuit

There are many personal injury claims that never see trial because each party comes to an agreement prior to that being necessary. However, if you follow the previous six steps and it does not result in a fair settlement, a lawsuit will be necessary. If a lawsuit is needed, understanding the trial process before going to trial will help you in making better choices and improve your possibility of succeeding in your personal injury lawsuit.

The process of filing a lawsuit is:

  1. A lawsuit begins by submitting a set of documents (a complaint) with the court, including your claims and the amount of money you are aiming to receive as compensation. The complaint is an official legal document identifying the legal and factual basis for your personal injury lawsuit. Once these are written, they are served to the defendant.
  2. Once the litigation period starts, information is exchanged between each party in the lawsuit. Throughout this time period, 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.
  3. After the case goes to trial, the evidence will be presented to the court, and the jury will weigh contested issues of fact and choose which pieces of evidence they find practical. It is not unusual for a personal injury case to last several days.
  4. Lastly, if you are successful, the judge or jury will identify how much reparation you will be awarded. It is a common misunderstanding 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 generally the jury who decides if you succeed in your lawsuit and the monetary amount you will be compensated.

Although filing a suit can sound frightening, 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 the skilled personal injury lawyers at The Cochran Firm today. Our lawyers have what it takes to help you navigate the claims process and help fight for the reparation you deserve during this unfortunate time.

Why Choose The Cochran Firm 

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 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 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 know how to fight for you. 

Here at The Cochran Firm, 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, we have the offices, the experience, the results, and the resources to aid clients throughout the United States.

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 today for your free, no-obligation initial consultation today. We serve the entire country with offices in many major U.S. cities.

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