When a person or party causes an injury or harm to another due to negligence, the injured party can often secure compensation through a personal injury claim. Some personal injury claims never make it to trial and end with an insurance claim or settlement negotiation, but more difficult cases can take months or even years to resolve in court. The timeline for a personal injury claim and the process for filing such a claim can vary based on several factors.
The first step in filing a personal injury claim is taking a complete inventory of the damages. If a claimant has medical expenses from an injury, it is vital to wait until he or she has a full, reliable prognosis of possible future complications. Accepting a case award or settlement offer will release the defendant from any future liability for damages from the same claim. Accepting too soon and then discovering additional damages would mean the claimant could not pursue damages for the newly discovered issues.
A personal injury claim can lead to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, property damage, and lost income resulting from the claimed event. An attorney can help a claimant determine the full scope of his or her losses to maximize recovery.
Some personal injury claims may end with an insurance claim. For example, if a negligent driver causes an accident with another driver in a state with a fault-based system for car accident claims, the injured driver can file a claim against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy. If the claim is relatively small and the at-fault driver’s coverage is sufficient to compensate the injured driver’s damages, the claim ends there. However, insurance may not fully cover the cost of an accident, or an insurance adjuster may challenge the validity of an injured driver’s claim. In these cases, a personal injury attorney can be a great asset.
A Wisconsin personal injury attorney can help with difficult insurance adjusters and minimize the chances of pushback against a legitimate car accident claim. In other cases, a personal injury attorney will facilitate settlement negotiations and help the client secure compensation for his or her losses.
Many personal injury attorneys offer free consultations to attract new clients and provide potential clients with a proper course of action. A personal injury attorney will review the facts of a client’s claim and inform him or her of options for legal recourse. If the at-fault party’s insurance is insufficient, an injured party’s attorney will push for a fair settlement or take the case to trial if necessary.
In a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff’s attorney must prove that the defendant was negligent and his or her negligence directly caused the plaintiff’s damages. The plaintiff’s attorney must also provide evidence that clearly shows the extent of those damages, such as hospital bills to prove medical expenses and pay stubs to prove lost income.
It is also important for a personal injury plaintiff to ensure his or her claim meets the applicable statute of limitations in his or her state. The statute of limitations is the time limit a claimant has to take legal action for a personal injury. In most states, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the injury, but some states allow longer statutes and other factors may toll or delay the statute from starting. A personal injury attorney can help a plaintiff navigate the state laws that pertain to a claim, assess damages, and prove negligence to secure compensation for those damages.