If you’re injured and someone else was responsible, you may be able to seek compensation through a personal injury claim. Personal injury compensation can reimburse you for financial and non-financial losses related to your injury, like medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Taking legal action might sound daunting — but fortunately, your personal injury lawyer does most of the work for you. When you understand how to file a personal injury lawsuit and what the process entails, it’s easier to feel confident about calling a lawyer and fighting for the money that’s owed to you.
There are eight key steps to filing a personal injury lawsuit that you need to know:
1. Seek Medical Attention
The first thing you do after sustaining an injury should be to seek medical attention, even when your injuries are minor or you aren’t showing any symptoms.
This is because seemingly minor injuries can be an early sign of a serious medical condition, like a headache that turns out to be a traumatic brain injury. Additionally, some serious injuries may not be immediately apparent. It can take hours, days, or even weeks to realize that an accident resulted in a spinal injury or organ damage.
Seeking a doctor doesn’t just protect your health — it also protects your finances. If you hope to gain compensation for your injuries, you need to provide proof that the accident was the source of your injuries.
Immediately seeing a doctor helps establish that your injuries were caused by the accident. It also demonstrates that you did your part to reduce the impact of the injury by seeking immediate care.
2. Call a Personal Injury Lawyer
To help you understand your legal options, you need a personal injury lawyer. A lawyer can review the details of your case and identify whether:
- You have grounds for a claim
- The estimated compensation is worth legal action
- An insurance policy covers compensation for the injury
Before you can recover compensation for a personal injury, you need to know that you have a case that holds up legally and is worth your time. A personal injury lawyer will explain your financial options, how to file a personal injury lawsuit, and what you need to do next.
3. Collect Evidence
Once a personal injury lawyer identifies that you have grounds for a claim and an avenue through which to seek compensation, they’ll begin collecting evidence to back your claim.
You’ll need evidence for two reasons: proving negligence and losses.
Before you qualify to receive personal injury compensation through the other party’s insurance policy, you need to prove that they acted negligently. Once you prove this negligence, you can hold the other party financially responsible for the harm.
The exact evidence a lawyer needs to collect to prove negligence depends on how the injury happened. For example, after a car accident, you might need to collect traffic camera footage and eyewitness testimony or hire an accident reconstruction specialist.
Once you prove negligence, you also have to provide evidence of the losses you experienced as a result of the accident. This most often takes the form of medical bills and pay stubs, which demonstrate the medical costs and lost wages that resulted from the accident.
4. Attempt Negotiation
Once your personal injury lawyer is finished building a case, they’ll file a claim on your behalf with the relevant insurance company.
At this point, your lawyer and the representatives of the insurance company will attempt to negotiate a settlement. Most personal injury cases are resolved through settlement at this stage in the process.
5. File a Lawsuit
Sometimes an insurance company refuses to compromise on a fair amount — or even tries to deny your claim entirely. When this happens, your best option is often to file a lawsuit.
Your lawyer will first file the complaint, which is the formal notice of your intent to file and your reasons for doing so. Then, your lawyer will file the summons, which will be delivered to the other party. There is a short wait period, during which the other party has time to submit a response to your complaint.
When it comes to the legal details of how to file a personal injury lawsuit, you won’t have to worry about meeting deadlines or filing requirements — your lawyer can handle it all for you.
6. Go to Court
Once you file a lawsuit, your case can begin moving forward in court. Personal injury lawsuits can be complicated. Your case will likely be heard throughout several court sessions.
Your personal injury lawyer will keep you informed of how your case is progressing, and will also let you know if you need to be present for the hearings.
7. Await a Court Verdict
Once your case finishes, the court will deliver a court verdict to determine your outcome. Depending on the type of case, a judge or jury may deliver the verdict.
Ultimately, the verdict will identify whether the insurance company has to pay you and the amount they must pay.
8. Receive Compensation
If your personal injury lawyer has succeeded in winning your case, the final step is to wait for the compensation to be awarded to you. Compensation in a personal injury case typically takes one of two forms — structured payments or a lump sum payment.
Your lawyer will work with you to set up the payment structure and take care of the details. The funds will be released to you, and your case will be closed.
Pursuing Justice Through a Personal Injury Lawsuit
When you are injured due to someone else’s negligence, a personal injury lawsuit can provide a means to pursue justice for the losses you experience. A reliable personal injury lawyer can determine whether a personal injury lawsuit is the best option for your particular case.
Since 1992, our personal injury attorneys at the Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, APC. have been fighting for the people of San Diego. Now, when those injured in automobile accidents – including car, truck, and motorcycle accidents – need financial help, or for the families that need to know that the loss of a loved one could have been prevented, there is a personal injury law firm in San Diego that is on their side. If you or a family member has been injured, call the lawyers at Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, APC. There’s never been a better time than right now to speak to a personal injury attorney—FREE of charge. Call us at 858-551-2090 or request a free consultation online today!
SENIOR PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY & FIRM FOUNDER
Michael Pines is a former insurance company attorney who graduated from the University of California Hastings College of the Law in 1987. While he was an insurance attorney, he learned from behind the scenes how insurance companies work and how they decide how much to pay injured people. Now that he works against insurance companies, Michael’s inside knowledge has resulted in significant benefits to his clients injured in car accidents. Learn more about Michael Pines