Find out the stages of an injury claim, the different types of personal injury claims, and the compensation available to you. If you need help with an injury claim, contact a personal injury lawyer in Norfolk today.
A personal injury is a wound a person suffers physically or mentally. On a broader scope and based on tort law, a personal injury case covers assaults, libel, defamatory statements, battery, accidents, etc. But for this article, we will focus on personal injury claims arising from accidents and other acts of negligence.
There are several stages in a personal injury process. If you suffered injuries due to someone else’s negligence, it is vital to know the phases. This way, you know how long it would take before you get a fair settlement from the at-fault party.
This article gives a detailed explanation of the stages of a personal injury claim. We will also share the accidental injuries you can file a claim for and the possible compensation you will get for your bodily injury and other losses. But first, let’s discuss the different types of personal injury cases.
Common Types of Personal Injury Cases
You can commence the compensation claim process for any of the following personal injury cases:
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents are quite common and happen daily. The World Health Organization reports that 1.3 million people die yearly in auto collisions. In 2020, Virginia recorded 105,600 car crashes with 847 fatalities and 52,668 accident injuries.
Motor vehicle crashes also cover bicycle accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, and pedestrian accidents. If your crash was caused by human error, you can usually file a claim for injuries against the negligent party.
You can take legal action against a doctor who fails to maintain the prevailing standard of care. Common examples of medical negligence are:
- Operating on the wrong body part
- Delayed diagnosis
- Misreading laboratory results
- Improper medication, etc.
A property owner must ensure they keep it safe for visitors. When they fail to do so, you can file a personal injury lawsuit for bodily injury suffered. Note that you do not have a valid claim if you trespassed on the property.
Product manufacturers must release only safe and consumable products. If they release a harmful product, those affected can commence compensation claims against them.
A personal injury lawyer in Norfolk can help you demand compensation payment from the liable party in each case. Therefore, consult one before beginning the legal process.
What Injury Can Your File a Personal Injury Claim For?
There are several visible injuries and non-visible wounds you can commence a legal claim for. They include the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Back injuries
- Neck injuries
- Cuts and lacerations
- Disfigurement and scars
- Burn injuries, etc.
Who Can File a Personal Injury Claim?
Anyone with a physical injury or property damage caused by another person’s negligent action can file a claim for monetary compensation. However, being an accident victim doesn’t mean you will get financial compensation.
To get compensated, you must establish the other party’s liability. Doing this requires proving the four elements of negligence. They include the following:
- Duty of Care: The liable party must owe you a duty of care. What this amounts to depends on the circumstances of each case. For example, in bicycle injury claims, the liable party’s duty of care would be obeying traffic rules.
- Breach of Duty of Care: Next, you must show there was a breach of this duty of care. Again, what amounts to a violation depends on each case. For example, in a product liability case, it would be the failure to warn about the harmful side effect of using a drug.
- Causation: The breach must have resulted in an injury. So, suppose a medical care provider prescribed the wrong medication due to a misdiagnosis. As a result, one of your organs got affected. This amounts to an injury caused by misdiagnosis and wrong medication, which breach the doctor’s duty of care.
- Damages: Finally, you must have suffered damages caused by the injury. Damages, here, refer to what you lost due to the harm suffered. It could be financial or otherwise, and you deserve fair compensation for your hurt.
Proving the four elements of negligence is tricky for someone without legal experience. Therefore, you may want to consider letting a personal injury lawyer in Norfolk handle the claims process.
What Are the Stages of a Personal Injury Claim?
Most injury victims expect to file their claim and get compensation immediately. However, there are critical stages to the personal injury claim process. You must go through each phase before arriving at where you can get paid.
Below, we discuss the different stages.
Get Medical Treatment
The claims process begins way before sending a demand letter or commencing the negotiation process. Instead, it starts with getting treated for your injuries by a health care provider. Therefore, the first thing you must do after an accident is to get treated.
Getting treated serves different purposes. First, it ensures that you get the care you need and that your injuries do not worsen and affect your health. Secondly, medical care creates a medical record that you use as evidence to make a fair recovery.
Thirdly, medical treatment shows the at-fault party’s insurance company and the jury that you indeed suffered injuries. If there’s no record of getting treated, the defense can argue that your wounds are from an existing health condition. They can also claim that the injuries were not severe enough and try to pay you less money.
Consult a Personal Injury Lawyer in Norfolk
After getting treated, whether or not you have attained maximum medical improvement, consult a personal injury law firm. Generally, you can handle your claim yourself, but if the insurance company is being difficult to work with you may want to get legal representation.
The defendant will not be unrepresented, so you need someone with legal knowledge on your side. If you hire a lawyer, there are things to expect during the legal consultation. First, the attorney will ask you questions about the case to determine the strength and the amount to ask for as compensation.
It would help if you also asked questions about the lawyer’s practice area, years of experience, success rate, etc. Finally, discuss the attorney’s fees and other legal costs you have to pay.
This stage is essential as the information gathered shows whether your case stands a chance of winning. The case investigation starts with your lawyer interviewing you about the accident, your injuries, the impact on your daily life, and how much you’ve spent so far.
Afterward, your legal team will gather documents like the police report, medical reports, photo and video evidence, witness statements, etc. Then, depending on the case, your lawyer may consult with medical experts, accident reconstruction experts, etc. Note that investigations can take months to conclude, depending on the evidence needed and the type of personal injury case.
Send Demand Letter and Begin Negotiations
After the initial investigations, your personal injury lawyer in Norfolk will write a demand letter to the at-fault party’s insurance company. The letter contains the facts of the case from your perspective, the amount spent on treatment and property repairs, and the amount you are claiming.
Your attorney will not send the demand letter until you attain maximum medical improvement. This ensures they have the total medical bills and an estimate of any future medical care. Then, after the other party’s insurer receives the demand letter, settlement negotiation begins.
The insurance company may send a counter-offer which your lawyer will advise you to accept or reject depending on its fairness. If you do not accept, your attorney will send a reply, and the negotiations will continue until both sides agree or your lawyer files a personal injury lawsuit.
File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Filing a lawsuit begins the litigation process. While most cases end at the negotiation stage, there are times when court action is the only option. One is when the insurance company offers a low settlement or rejects your claim or when the Statute of Limitations is about to elapse.
You can also go to the court where you sustained significant injuries or want to ask for punitive damages. There are different stages of the litigation process. They include the following:
The pre-trial phase consists of discovery and interrogatories. In the discovery phase, the parties to a case investigate each side’s version of the facts. With interrogatories, they send a list of written questions to each other.
Your lawyer or the at-fault party’s lawyer will also schedule a deposition. Here, you give a recorded testimony of the accident. It’s noteworthy that your answers during the deposition can be entered as evidence during the trial.
Mediation and Negotiation
Before the trial starts, the court will order mediation and negotiation. This is the final attempt at settlement, and if it fails, the case proceeds to trial. An impartial third party serves as the mediator.
This is the final stage of the litigation and the entire personal injury claim process. During the trial, both parties present their argument to the jury. They also show supporting evidence, and the jury gives their verdict at the end of the case.
If the verdict is in your favor, you get compensation for the following:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of consortium
- Property damage
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of earning capacity, etc.
Book a Free Consultation With a Personal Injury Lawyer in Norfolk
Are you the victim of another person’s negligent actions? If yes, you deserve compensation for everything you lost and suffered from the accident. At CAIL, we offer excellent legal representation to victims.
We analyze the case, carefully explain the stages of the claims process, and help you get the maximum compensation. Contact us today for a free case review.