Personal injury claims are one of the bedrocks of American civil law. They allow individuals to sue for compensation after being injured in a way that was not their fault. The United States of America does not have a socialized healthcare system like some other countries. Instead, it relies upon a system of payment and insurance. Regardless of whether a person has insurance or not, an injury will cause some degree of financial difficulty. Personal injury claims are a way of mitigating this aspect of the American healthcare system. This explains why the USA has such a high rate of civil injury litigation in comparison to other nations.
When making a personal injury claim, it is a good idea to know the process that it is likely to involve. This is a very brief guide to what will happen during a claim.
The Injury Occurs And An Attorney Is Hired
After the plaintiff is injured and the potential costs of their injury are made clear to them by medical staff, they will need to hire a personal injury attorney. An attorney will make an initial investigation into the plaintiff’s case at this point. They will request all of the information that the victim of an accident or deliberate injury has and assess whether they have a potential case. Most attorneys will only take on a case if they have a chance of winning.
A Complaint Is Filed And Served
After the attorney establishes that the plaintiff has a concrete case, they will file a personal injury claim with the civil court. They also need to ‘serve’ the defendant with a summons to court. This needs to be done physically and verified so that the defendant cannot claim not to know about the lawsuit being filed against them.
The Defendant Seeks Counsel
When served, a defendant must also hire an attorney. Large companies and government agencies will be able to draw upon their resources to quickly hire attorneys, while smaller organizations will have to go through similar processes to individuals in their search for legal counsel.
Pre-Trial And Discovery
The pretrial and discovery stages of litigation are where the ground rules for the case are set and the evidence is accumulated. Attorneys from both sides have the opportunity to meet in mitigation sessions and deposition witnesses.
Most personal injury cases end here. After evidence has been accumulated and both sides have had a chance to assess their chances, most parties will agree on some kind of compensatory settlement. This means that neither side has to shoulder the costs of a court-based trial.
If a settlement cannot be reached, the case will have to go to trial. A judge (and occasionally a jury) will have to be presented with all of the evidence that has been accumulated by both parties about the plaintiff’s injury. Depending on the outcome of the trial, either party can appeal several times if new evidence comes to light.