You hear about people filing personal injury lawsuits all the time. However, did you know only 4 to 5 percent of those lawsuits go to trial? The other 95 to 96 percent settle outside of court.
If you or a loved one suffer a personal injury and you have questions about the process, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we’ll provide crucial information to help you determine if you have a personal injury case.
What is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
When a person suffers an injury or an accident and someone else is legally responsible, a personal injury lawsuit can arise. Filing for a personal injury lawsuit is nothing but a civil procedure with the purpose of recovering money due to the losses or injuries sustained.
It’s understandable that many people might be nervous about filing a personal injury lawsuit, but it’s nothing but a civil claim (no one will go to jail in the process).
Even when someone suffers an accident, say slipping and falling at the grocery store, they might not have a viable personal injury case.
Before you go forward with the lawsuit, you need to answer the following questions:
- Were you the victim of a personal injury and not just suffer property damage?
- Were your injuries due to the negligence of a third party such as a person or entity?
- Are your damages recoverable?
Answering yes to these questions makes you a good candidate for a personal injury lawsuit. However, you should consult with an attorney to discuss all of your options.
Lawsuit vs Informal Settlement
As we mentioned before, a personal injury lawsuit is a civil procedure. During the dispute, the parties could either go to court or settle in an informal setting before the lawsuit is filed.
When a person files a formal lawsuit, he or she will be known as the “plaintiff.” The plaintiff will claim that the other party or the “defendant” acted wrongfully or carelessly, which led to the injuries of the plaintiff.
This process will start the formal lawsuit in a court of law.
An informal settlement, on the other hand, is usually handled outside of court. Both parties discuss the responsibilities and fault of the accident in order to settle an agreement outside of court.
The process starts with a written settlement agreement drafted by the attorneys of the party responsible for the accident.
Then, both sides discuss and negotiate until they reach an agreement. This will be an informal settlement that will be settled outside of court.
The Statue of Limitations
If you plan on filing a personal injury lawsuit, you have to keep in mind that there is a statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations will prevent you from suing the other party after a certain amount of time has passed. Each state has different laws that determine the length of the statute of limitations.
If some time has passed since your injury, you should find out the specific statute of limitation in your state or consult your lawyer.
Consulting a Lawyer
If you are wondering whether or not you’re eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit, the first step is to consult an experienced personal injury attorney.
When you meet with the lawyer, you need to bring with as much supporting evidence as possible such as medical records and other supporting evidence.
Keep in mind that you might need to see different personal injury lawyers before you settle for one. You shouldn’t worry about this costing you money since most personal injury attorneys offer a free consultation.
Ask Questions And Evaluate the Lawyer
In order to get the best outcome possible, you want to have the best attorney on your side.
When you meet with different personal injury attorneys, it’s important you use your better judgment to decide who is right for you.
You should ask them the right questions during that initial meeting. Start by asking them how long they been practicing law for. Have they handled cases similar to yours?
Also, pay attention to the types of questions the attorney asks you. Is the lawyer trying to understand your case? How invested does the lawyer seem?
If the lawyer is promising a good outcome without asking enough questions about your situation, you should be wary of this.
Understand How You Will Pay For The Fees
People often are afraid to hire an attorney because they know their fees can add up. However, in the case of most personal injury attorneys, they get paid on contingency. This means, if the lawyer doesn’t win your case, they don’t get paid.
Let’s say the lawyer wins your case, they will take a percentage of your settlement. Most personal injury attorneys get between 25% to 40%.
Don’t just assume this is how your personal injury lawyer will get paid, there are always small exceptions. You should ask these questions up front before you hire the lawyer and before you sign the contract.
Starting the Investigation
Once you hire an attorney, they will need to understand everything about your lawsuit. They will need to get all the facts straight including how you got injured, costs, and damages.
Make sure you tell your attorney everything you remember and let them do their work.
Negotiations Before the Lawsuit
In a lot of cases that involve an accident, the parties can reach a settlement before the case even gets to court. Your attorney will negotiate with the other side and get a settlement offer.
If you’re happy with the settlement, you can accept it and move on or you can move forward with the suit.
File the Lawsuit
If you reject the offer, your lawyer will file a formal lawsuit in court. The next step is for the judge to set a date for the proceeding to begin.
This process can take a few month or years if the case is complex.
Of course, you always have the option to go into mediation to try and negotiate another settlement before the case reaches trial.
If the parties still cannot agree, the case will go to trial. It will then be up to the judge to decide once he has heard both sides.
Personal Injury Case: The Bottom Line
We hope with article helped answer any questions you might have had about a personal injury case.
Did you have a potential personal injury lawsuit? You’re not alone.
Contact us at Alexander Law Group, LLP for a free case evaluation.