Personal injury is among the most common civil litigations filed in the United States. Personal injury law, also known as tort law, allows an injured person to file a lawsuit for financial compensation, provided it fits the necessary legal parameters.
Usually, you can file a personal injury claim for a variety of accidents, ranging from motor vehicle accidents to slips and falls. However, these are tricky waters. You need expert guidance to make sure you get the best possible compensation for the physical and mental trauma you have suffered due to an injury.
As one of the leading personal injury attorneys in Illinois, we find it necessary to share the basics of personal injury law with you.
A. Common Types of Personal Injuries
Here are some of the most common types of personal injury claims (in alphabetical order).
1. Assault and Battery
Unlike most other personal injury claims, this one is usually the result of one person intentionally causing harm to another. The authorities may see it fit to start a criminal lawsuit in addition to your claim against the perpetrator.
In this type of claim, you can ask for compensation against the financial loss and damage to your reputation or character caused by a negative statement (which is also false) made purposefully or with negligence.
3. Dog Bites
Whenever a dog bites you or causes any other injury to you, you can file a lawsuit against the owner, seeking compensation for the harm. This law also varies from state to state, with some states having a “one bite” rule. In other words, you should get legal advice from a successful Illinois personal injury attorney if you are filing a claim in Mount Vernon.
4. Medical Malpractice
You can file a medical malpractice lawsuit if you believe a doctor’s or any other healthcare professional’s negligence led to an injury or even the death of your loved one.
5. Motor Vehicle Accidents
These types of claims arise when you or your loved one is involved in a car accident. However, you need to prove that the other driver was negligent, which resulted in the accident. They are the most common personal injury claims.
6. Slip and Fall
Property owners, and sometimes tenants, can also be held responsible for injuries caused by slip and fall on their property. Owners are legally required to keep their property safe for everyone. Just like any other claim, you will need to prove that the owner or tenant was at fault, leading to your injury.
7. Wrongful Death
If the negligence or misconduct of a person causes the death of your loved one, as a family member you can file a wrongful death claim. You need evidence just as you would in a criminal case to file this claim. However, the standard of proof is much lower.
B. General Personal Injury Claim Process
Not only does the personal injury law differ from state to state, but each case involves unique factors. As a result, the following process may change depending on your case:
1. Legal Consultation
The first thing involved in any personal injury claim is to consult an experienced attorney. Make sure to tell the attorney everything in detail.
You must describe the accident or the cause of injury as it happened. Don’t get carried away and say things that didn’t happen. Trust plays a critical role in an attorney-client relationship.
Although you have shared all the details of your case, the lawyer will still investigate your claim. It usually involves checking your medical bills and records, insurance, police reports, your employment history, and video footage.
They will also check the background of the perpetrator and any other documents related to your case. The primary goal of your attorney at this stage is to find out how much compensation you can claim. That’s why it is essential to work with an honest and experienced lawyer.
3. Calculate the Damages
Once your lawyer has all the facts related to your case, they will prepare a demand letter. The demand letter outlines your case and mentions the detailed compensation you are seeking from the other party. After the other party receives the letter, the following three possibilities arise:
If the other party accepts your demands, you don’t have to go to trial. In exchange for the compensation, however, you have to waive off the right to sue the opposition in future.
If the opposition doesn’t find your demand reasonable, they will usually make a settlement offer of their own. You can either accept or reject it. However, rejection often means taking your case to trial.
If the opposition rejects your settlement offer, you have no choice but to go to trial.
4. File the Lawsuit
As the opposite party has rejected your settlement offer, your lawyer will file the claim in the court, after which trial will start.
Before commencing the trial, both parties need to share their respective evidence, which is called discovery phase. It allows both parties to study each other’s cases and evidence before the trial.
As the last resort to avoid a trial, courts often ask both parties to go through the process of mediation. Mediation often involves a court-appointed mediator (a current or former judge) who oversees the process.
Both parties try to solve the claim through amicable discussion during the mediation. You must, however, have your attorney present during all mediation sessions.
If all efforts to process the claim through mutual discussion fail, your case will go to the trial. At this stage, the jury will examine the evidence, witnesses, and arguments presented by both parties to come to the final decision.
Remember, no one can guarantee the outcome of a personal injury trial. However, having an attorney with a good track record can help. Also, trials can be relatively expensive and time-consuming.
Either party can choose to appeal the case to the higher court if the result is not in their favor. The process of a personal injury claim appeal and its limitations vary from state to state.
You can make a personal injury claim to get financial compensation to pay off your medical bills, rehabilitation costs, court fees, and other expenses related to your injury. However, you must first understand what a personal injury claim is and how the process works. Hopefully, this post will help clarify your basics in this regard. To discuss your case and its potential scope, feel free to get in touch with us.