If you feel that you have a legitimate claim that entitles you to compensation for a personal injury that happened to you as a result of someone else’s negligence, then it is recommended that you take steps to pursue that claim as soon as possible after the incident. The sooner you start the legal process, the better chance of success you will have at being granted a favorable settlement or judgment.
Should You File a Personal Injury Case Yourself?
You can file a claim on your own behalf. However, before you do so, we encourage you to consider your options very carefully. It has been shown that you are much more likely to win your claim if you have a well-educated and experienced personal injury lawyer representing you. Not only are you more likely to win the case with legal representation, but you will also be more likely to be awarded a higher settlement amount.
It is also important to keep in mind that the party you are interested in filing a personal injury lawsuit against is probably going to surround themselves with legal counsel, especially if an insurance company is involved. Insurance companies have adjusters and lawyers on staff whose sole purpose is to get your personal injury claim denied or to settle it by paying you as little money as possible. It is one of the main reasons why it is so important for you to have legal representation in a personal injury case.
Legal consultations at the Law Office of Raúl A. Guajardo are free, so before you decide to go it alone, take the time to sit down and talk with an experienced personal injury lawyer at our firm and let us give you legal insight into your case. You will probably end up being surprised by how much you did not know and how many different ways we can help you.
5 Steps to Filing a Personal Injury Claim and Getting Resolution
There are several steps that may be a part of the legal process to solve your claim. It is a lot more complicated than just filing some papers and going to court. A large majority of personal injury lawsuits never see the inside of a courtroom.
We will go over the major steps in the process and how they can play out. Keep in mind that these are just the major steps; some additional steps may be required and there can always be negotiations, which may cause you and your lawyer to repeat a step.
Filing a Complaint or Petition
Your claim officially starts when a complaint or petition is filed in court. This is generally an outline of the case that you will present to the court with details about your case against the defendant. It will also name the defendant of the lawsuit, establish the court’s jurisdiction over the lawsuit, and state your legal claims and supporting facts. Your complaint or petition should include the amount and type of restitution that you seek.
In the summons, the court notifies the defendant of the fact that he has been sued, the date the matter will be heard, and the location of the court where the matter will be heard. The summons must be legally served on the defendant and signed for by the defendant. The defendant will be directed to respond within a certain amount of time. If the defendant does not respond within the required time, then the defendant will be in default and a judgment may be entered against the defendant.
This is exactly what it sounds like. It is the defendant’s reply to your lawsuit, and it indicates how the defendant intends to proceed. The lawsuit can start to get complicated here. The defendant may place a counterclaim against you that is similar to your complaint. The lawsuit may also have a cross-claim by another party or the defendant may try to pass the blame on to a third party in an attempt to absolve themselves of any wrongdoing. Often when this happens, the third party then becomes part of the lawsuit.
During settlement negotiations, you and the defendant (or your attorneys) may attempt to resolve the dispute. You may go back and forth several times as each party makes offers and the other party responds with counter-offers. If no settlement can be reached, then the case will be resolved in court.
This is the first attempt to resolve the lawsuit in a courtroom. It will most likely involve selecting a jury, both sides presenting their cases, and a verdict being reached. The process may end here or it may continue through the legal system.
If you or the defendant are not happy with the trial results and there is a legal basis for appeal, then you or the defendant may appeal the case to the proper court.
Of course, this process can be a lot more complex than what is written here, but this outline gives a good frame of reference on what to expect from the personal injury claims process. As you can see it can quickly become complicated, which is why most people choose to have legal representation instead of trying to prove their case by themselves. Please contact us directly for a free consultation about your rights and about how we can help you with a personal injury case.