You may wish to file a personal injury lawsuit when someone causes you, through accidental or deliberate actions, any injury that leads to serious damage or life-threatening disabilities.
If you are planning to file suit against the culprits of your injury, it is important for you to understand the personal injury lawsuit process properly.
Insurance Investigation And The No-Fault Application
Florida is a no-fault driving state that requires all drivers to carry a specific type of insurance called personal injury protection in the even you are ever in a vehicular accident. This means that if you have been involved in a car accident, this special insurance will help to cover the cost of treatment of your injuries – regardless if you or the other driver is deemed “at-fault” for the accident.
“Fault” is still determined in an accident to sort out which involved party’s insurance covers the damages to personal property. If the other driver is labeled “at-fault” for the accident, you could attempt to pursue a personal injury lawsuit to recover the expenses of medical treatment that is over or outside of your personal injury protection insurance coverage.
Outside of car accidents, fault – or liability – can be determined during an investigation of an incident that results in the injury or another. For example, if a customer slips and falls in a grocery store an investigation will need to occur to determine if the store or one of its employees caused or could have prevented the slip or fall from occurring in the first place. If the store or one of its employees could have prevented the accident, then the store is deemed “at-fault”. If, however, the store or its employees did everything in their power to prevent an accident (such as putting out wet floor signs and floor mats) then a personal injury case is unlikely to result in favorable terms for the injured.
Settlement And Negotiations
Once fault has been determined and there is sufficient liability to pursue a personal injury claim, then your hired attorney can attempt to seek compensation for your injuries through a settlement or negotiation process.
It is important for your personal injury attorney to assure that they will help you get the compensation that you deserve; however, it is just as important to understand that a personal injury case can take years to reach a settlement and during that time you will have to treat your injuries on your own. Time can be lengthened if the other party does not admit fault and you must continue to trial in order for a judge or jury to determine the amount of liability and monetary compensation.
There are many factors that are involved in determining the amount that you will get in a settlement. Some of these factors include:
- Amount of medical treatment to date
- Future medical treatment required
- Extent of the injuries you endured
- Wages you have lost as a result of the injuries or required treatment
- Enjoyment you may have lost in life or favorite activities because of the injury or accident
- Inability to perform activities of daily life
- Your determined liability percentage
- Your age
Discovery and Litigation
Insurance companies will fight tooth and nail to keep from having to payout on a liability claim. This is both good and bad – if you are being sued, then you would want your insurance company to fight against liability claims made against you. However, when you are on the other side of it and are the one with injuries and the insurance company will not agree to a settlement or provide the coverage that you for your injuries. This is when the negotiation attempts turn into courtroom litigation. Prior to entering a courtroom, there is a stage called discovery. It is where both sides share the evidence they have supporting their claims and is what can make personal injury claims take so long. In some cases, the personal injury claim may be settled at this point when the opposing side receives ample evidence of their liability and the extent of their liability. In other cases, neither side can agree on a settlement and the case proceeds to trial.
Documents that are a part of discovery may include:
- Accident reports written by the police and supplemental eyewitness testimony.
- Medical records and reports made by medical professionals related to the accident.
- All information about any previous accidents, injuries, or health concerns.
- All your medical records that are not related to accidents.
- Employment and HR records
- Deposition records of yourself, opposing parties, and eyewitnesses
- Any kind of public assistance that you have received in this time and reports related to it.
Trial and Verdict
If the case proceeds to this stage, that means that the opposing side refuses their liability completely or in part. They may also believe that the injuries you sustained are not “bad enough” to justify what you are asking in compensation. During the trial, your personal injury attorney will present the evidence gathered to a judge or jury. Evidence may include documentation, like those mentioned previous, visible injuries or disabilities you may have sustained, or eyewitness and expert witness testimony. After both sides have been given a chance to present their side of events and cross-examine one another’s witnesses, the judge or jury will determine if the defendant is liable for your injuries, to what extent are they liable, what extent your injuries are, and what damages (monetary or otherwise) should be awarded.
If either side is not satisfied with the settlement judgement, then they are allowed to appeal that decision to a higher court. The higher Florida court will review the case and determine whether to leave the current judgement in place or overturn it.
As you can see, the personal injury claim process can be a lengthy and tedious process, especially if it goes all the way to trial. It is important to not only act quickly in initiating your case but also to be prepared for the road ahead. Contact our personal injury law firm to discuss your particular case details.
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