If you were injured in an accident another party caused, you have the right to claim compensation for your losses. You may wonder when to sue for personal injury. Most personal injury claims are settled out of court via negotiations with an insurance company. However, when negotiations do not go as planned, some cases can only reach their conclusion via a lawsuit.
A personal injury lawsuit is a civil court case that is separate from any criminal cases that might occur because of the accident that caused your injuries. However, even though it may not be a criminal proceeding, a lawsuit can be complicated.
How Lawsuits Happen
If you are considering taking legal action against the party whose negligence caused your injuries, an experienced Charleston personal injury attorney can help you understand how best to proceed with your claim. Knowing what steps are involved in a personal injury lawsuit can help you understand what to expect at every phase of the process.
1. Consult with a Personal Injury Attorney
Sometimes, when a person has suffered injuries in an accident, they make the mistake of believing they can represent themselves. While it is technically possible to do so, the legal process of filing a personal injury claim is incredibly complicated. Additionally, insurance companies may attempt to get the injured party to admit responsibility for the accident. A seasoned personal injury attorney will know how to protect your interests and will recommend not accepting a settlement that is less than what you deserve.
Before your initial consultation with your lawyer, you should gather as much documentation to take with you as you can so that your lawyer can gain a full understanding of the facts and circumstances of your case. These documents include:
- Photos and videos of the accident
- Medical bills from your accident-related injuries
- Police report of the crash
- Employment and income documents that can demonstrate any wages you have lost because of your injuries
- A list of physical or psychological harm or limitations you have experienced since the accident
Whether you end up settling or taking your claim to court, this evidence will help your attorney begin the process of determining what kind of compensation you should seek.
2. Accident Investigation
After your initial consultation, your attorney will investigate to learn more about the details of the accident. The investigation may include:
- Collecting statements from any witnesses who were present
- Checking security footage
- Consulting with expert witnesses who can provide testimony about the ways in which your injuries are related to the accident
3. Issuing a Claim for Compensation
Upon the completion of the investigation, your attorney will send a demand for compensation to the insurance company of the at-fault party. The demand will outline everything the insurance company should know, including:
- Documentation and photos of your injuries
- Evidence from the accident scene showing who is at fault
- Your medical records
- Documentation of your lost wages
- Information about the pain and suffering you have experienced because of your accident-related injuries
4. Negotiation with the Insurance Company
After the claim is filed, the insurance company may respond with a settlement offer. If the offer covers the losses you have suffered, as well as any losses that may occur in the future because of the accident, you can accept the compensation.
If the amount is insufficient, your lawyer will attempt to negotiate with the insurance company. If the negotiations do not end with an acceptable settlement, this is the point at which your attorney will file a lawsuit on your behalf.
5. Going to Court
If your case goes to court, you can expect the following steps to occur:
- Discovery phase – Attorneys for both sides will have an opportunity to collect more information about the claim.
- Mediation – Both sides will have a chance to work with a mediator to try to come to an agreement. If not, the trial begins.
- Personal injury trial – Bringing your case to trial will entail arguing your claim before a judge and sometimes a jury. At the conclusion of your case, the judge or jury will issue a ruling about how much money you should receive for your losses.
Contact a Charleston Personal Injury Attorney
Filing a lawsuit tends to be the last course of action in a personal injury claim. However, if it needs to happen, it is crucial that you have excellent legal representation on your side. The experienced Charleston personal injury attorneys at Crantford Meehan are ready to help you with every aspect of your claim. If you need to take your case to court, we will fight aggressively on your behalf to seek the full and fair compensation you deserve.
Call us today at (843) 417-0469 or contact us online for a free consultation.