When an individual suffers harm as a result of the actions of someone else, the victim can file a personal injury lawsuit against the individual or entity responsible. These lawsuits are intended to obtain recovery for the costs associated with monetary, physical, and mental harm suffered. In some cases, punitive damage awards are possible, which are intended to punish the defendant.
Steps in the Process
Individuals are injured through a variety of acts, such as car accidents or slipping and falling. Most personal injury lawsuits that are successful result in an award of compensatory damages. These types of damages are intended to make the victim “whole” again. They may include medical costs, lost wages, compensation for property loss, or pain and suffering.
The first step after an individual is hurt is to seek medical treatment. This is not only important for the health of the person, but also because suspicion may be raised if there is a gap in time between the accident and the initial medical visit. Immediately seeking treatment indicates that a true injury did occur. It is important to keep all medical bills and receipts for prescriptions and other items purchased in relation to the treatment.
After an individual has begun medical treatment, an attorney should be selected to represent the victim through the process. Initially, the attorney will discuss with the victim numerous topics, such as how the accident happened and the individual’s condition. The attorney will also collect information such as medical records and bills.
The next step is a first attempt at reaching a settlement with the defendant and the defendant’s insurance company. In some cases, a settlement can be reached without filing a lawsuit. It is often advisable not to make any demands or file a lawsuit until the victim has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI is the point at which treatment has ended and the person will see no further improvement. It is often important to wait until the victim reaches MMI because, before this point, the total cost of medical treatment will be unknown. If a settlement cannot be reached (or to encourage negotiation towards a settlement), a lawsuit will be filed.
The initial phase after a lawsuit is filed is discovery, which involves each party investigating all of the legal claims and defenses. The parties will send each other interrogatories (written questions), requests for documents, and depose all-important witnesses. It is important to keep in mind that at any time, the parties can still come to an agreement regarding settlement. But, if a settlement cannot be reached, the case will go to trial. The length of the trial depends on numerous factors, like the complexity of the case and the number of witnesses that will be asked to testify.
If you have been injured in an accident, it may be possible to recover a damage award to compensate you for your losses. For more information about a potential claim you can make, speak with an experienced personal injury law attorney today. At the Surasky Law Firm, we provide legal representation for individuals in the Aiken, South Carolina area. We look forward to hearing from you.