Auto Accident Settlement
What You Should Know About the Personal Injury Lawsuit Process
Accidents are not a rare occurrence in Florida’s Treasure Coast. When a person is injured as the result of someone’s negligence, they have the right to file a personal injury claim. When this claim cannot result in a satisfactory settlement, the injury victim can choose to file a lawsuit, known otherwise as a legal complaint. Whether you have been injured in Port St. Lucie, Okeechobee, or anywhere in between, knowing more about the personal injury lawsuit timeline can help you make important decisions moving forward.
Before we discuss the process of a personal injury lawsuit, let’s discuss a very important question: What is personal injury? You are considered to have sustained an injury in an accident if you suffered:
- Contusions or lacerations
- Fractured or broken bones
- Damage to connective tissues or organs
- Head or neck trauma
- Back or spinal trauma
- And more
Generally speaking, personal injury simply means that you were hurt. The severity of your injuries and resultant damages determine whether you have the grounds for a personal injury claim or a subsequent lawsuit. Let’s take a look at the timeline for a typical personal injury case to know what to expect.
The First Consultation
If you have been injured as the result of an accident anywhere in the Treasure Coast Area, you begin the process by having a consultation with an experienced attorney. This consultation will be free of charge at the majority of law firms, including Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd.
At your consultation, you and your attorney will discuss the details of your accident, along with your chances of winning a personal injury lawsuit. During this conversation, you may want to ask the following questions:
- How long to file a personal injury lawsuit (statute of limitations)?
- How long does a personal injury lawsuit take?
- How are personal injury settlements paid out?
- How much to ask for in a personal injury settlement?
- Do you pay taxes on a personal injury lawsuit settlement?
If it is determined that you have a case, your attorney will take the next steps toward securing compensation for your damages.
Pursuing a Personal Injury Claim Through the Insurance Process
The vast majority of personal injury cases will be settled out-of-court. What typically happens is that the injury victim will first file a claim against the liability insurance policy covering the negligent party. A “negligent” party is any party that caused your injury as a result of a lapse in their duty to exercise care and sound judgment.
Filing an insurance claim for all your damages is rarely a simple affair. You must first calculate the full costs of your medical bills, lost wages, and other losses. The full estimate of your treatment costs often cannot take place until you have progressed through the first stages of your injury, so the claims process is often delayed. In the meantime, you will file a notice of a claim with the insurer and begin the process of documenting your damages.
A successful claim must also use the proper justification for why you are seeking coverage. Many times when filing a liability claim, you will have to include proof that the policyholder holds fault or caused your injury through negligence.
Establishing fault and documenting your damages can prove difficult. Insurance companies are also notorious for asking leading questions that elicit answers that can cause a claim to be denied. For these reasons, a personal injury attorney is recommended even at the claims stage.
After filing a claim, an insurer may dispute that the injury is covered, or they may allege that some of your expenses cannot be claimed. You can continue to negotiate once you receive your first offer, but once your claim is fully denied or it is clear that no settlement can be reached, filing a lawsuit becomes your next best option.
Filing The Case In Court
When you and your personal injury attorney have determined that you indeed have grounds for a case and decide to move forward, he or she will file a complaint with the court. Your attorney will serve the required parties. The complaint will state:
- Your name (the plaintiff)
- The name of the at-fault party (the defendant)
- The nature of the accident
- Your injuries
- The number of damages you are seeking
Once served, the defendant will file an answer with the court.
The Process Of Discovery
Discovery is the phase where both parties exchange evidence. Your personal injury attorney will send requests for certain documents to the defendant. These documents may include emails, photos, texts, or video footage. During the process, your attorney may seek depositions, information from medical experts, and the expertise of an accident reconstructionist. Each of these things will help your attorney better understand the complexities of your case.
Motions, Hearings, and Negotiations
There are several things that will happen before you step foot inside a courtroom. There may be motions filed by either or both sides, hearings in front of the presiding judge, or even settlement negotiations. Many people wonder how insurance companies handle personal injury claims, and this is where you will see it in action. In many cases, an insurance company would prefer to settle than to take a chance on losing in court. Even if they denied the claim initially, they may be prepared to settle once the motion to dismiss the case is denied and the trial date seems imminent.
Your case will go to trial if a settlement cannot be reached. Both sides will have the opportunity to give testimony, and a jury will rule in favor of one of the parties. At any point during the trial, your case may still be settled in your favor. Whether your case is settled or proceeds and is successful, your attorney will begin the process of securing your award.
Why Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have been injured on the Treasure Coast of Florida, you have the right to file a lawsuit on your own. It is not something that is recommended. There are several benefits to hiring a personal injury lawyer instead of going it alone:
- Legal knowledge
- Reputation within the community
- Experience with personal injury cases
- Expertise in the nuances of the court system
- Ability to negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf
Locating The Right Attorney
It’s easy to find an attorney. It’s not always easy to find one that you trust and feel comfortable with. It is always a good idea to speak with two or more attorneys before deciding who to hire. Think of it as a job interview for the person offering you their services.
Here are several questions you can ask:
- How long have you been in practice?
- Do you have experience with cases like mine?
- What is your fee schedule, and how will I be asked to pay you?
- What will my role in the case be?
- How often will we be in contact?
- Who will handle my case?
- May I have the contact information for one or more past clients?
You Deserve A Strong Personal Injury Advocate
At Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd, we successfully represent personal injury victims like you. Our experienced attorneys will fight for your rights and work to secure the compensation you are entitled to. If you were injured in Vero Beach, Ft. Pierce, or the surrounding area, contact our Florida attorneys today at 866-460-1990 or contact us online. Your initial consultation with our personal injury lawyer will be held at no cost to you or your family.
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