The Injury Claim Process Explained
How to navigate the injury claim process.
Navigating the world of personal injury claims can be a little confusing, especially if it’s your first time. The procedures, timeline, and paperwork might be too complex to understand or handle. But one positive thing about the personal injury claims process is that it follows some common litigation landmarks. Knowing what to expect with your personal injury claim will allow you to plan ahead and make empowered decisions.
Here, we will walk you through the standard personal injury claim process, but keep in mind that your case may not reach every stage discussed here.
Seek Medical Care
The first thing you should do after sustaining a personal injury is to seek immediate medical treatment. Visit the emergency room if you must or make an appointment to see your primary care clinic. Failure to see a doctor after an accident will have the insurance adjuster and jury assuming that your injuries are not that serious or not caused by the accident.
Follow the prescribed course of treatment until you reach a point of medical improvement. Also, keep a journal of out-of-pocket expenses incurred, medical providers seen, and dates it was necessary to miss work as a result of treatment.
Retain a Personal Injury Lawyer
Except in the simplest of cases, it’s best to hire and retain a personal injury lawyer. Make sure you choose an attorney who has lots of experience handling cases like yours, knows the local players, and is ready to take your case to court if need be.
During your initial consultation, the attorney will discuss the circumstances of your personal injury claim, address your concerns, and let you know about your options moving forward.
Topics of discussion will include:
- The occurrence of the accident
- Parties involved
- Fault and liability
- Injuries sustained
- Medical treatment received
- Future treatment needs
Lawyer Initiates an Investigation
Your personal injury attorney should initiate an investigation into the facts of your personal injury claim.
The investigation will involve:
- Getting to know everything about the accident
- Visiting the scene of the accident
- Obtaining accident reports
- Identifying parties at fault
- Getting all your medical records and bills
This step of the personal injury claim process can take months to complete but is necessary for your claim.
Attorney Sends a Demand Letter
Many personal injury claims are settled out of court. If your attorney thinks that the case can be settled, they will consider making a demand to the other party’s insurance company or lawyer. This lays out your argument to the other party for why they should pay the damages. Typically, your demand letter will highlight:
- How and where the accident happened
- The defendant’s liability
- Injuries you’ve sustained
- Medical costs
- Damages suffered
- Demand for compensation
The demand letter will include a time limit within which the insurance company must respond. The insurance company will review the claim. They might decide to play hardball and refuse to pay, or they might respond with a settlement offer.
If an offer is made, your attorney will notify you and discuss with you the different options you have. Based on your agreement, your attorney may negotiate a settlement with the insurance to ensure you’re fully compensated for your personal injuries.
If negotiations with the at-fault party stall, you and your attorney will move on to the next step in the personal injury claim process: filing a lawsuit.
The Personal Injury Lawsuit is Filed
The first document your attorney will file in the lawsuit is the complaint, which outlines your case against the defendant. Much like the demand letter, it will out in very broad detail what you are alleging, such as the defendant’s fault, your injuries, the expenses you’ve incurred, and what you demand as compensation.
Keep in mind that a personal injury lawsuit needs to be filed within strict time limits called the statute of limitations. In Florida, you have 4 years from the date of the accident to bring legal action against the negligent party.
A copy of the complaint will need to be served to the defendant. This means physically delivering the complaint to the defendant in a verifiable way. Services should be done within 30 days. Once the notice has been received, the defendant will have 30 days to respond to the complaint, failure to respond will result in the court awarding a default judgment.
Pre-Trial and Discovery
In this phase of the personal injury claim process, you and your attorney will request and share information with the opposing side. Witnesses and documents are identified and both parties will submit their evidence. The attorneys may present legal motions requesting the judge to dismiss or rule over certain aspects of the case. The discovery phase can last up to a year because it involves a lot of documentation.
Negotiation and Meditation
As the discovery period ends, the attorneys may give settlement negotiations another shot. They can settle by talking among themselves or go to mediation, a process in which a neutral third party is brought in to try to resolve the case.
Go to Trial for a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If meditation and negotiation don’t work, the case is scheduled for trial. The jury or judge will determine if the defendant is liable, and if so, how much they are required to pay out in damages. Either side can initiate appeals process if they don’t like the results.
Contact Our Experienced St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys Today
If you’ve been injured in an accident and need a lawyer to help you navigate the personal injury claim process, Yanchuck Berman is here to help. We are an experienced law firm in St. Petersburg committed to the zealous pursuit of maximum compensation for our clients’ personal injuries. We will guide you through the insurance claim and do the legwork and stand by you throughout the entire process.
Contact us today to schedule a free, confidential consultation and begin the first step to the compensation you deserve.