When you have the unfortunate experience of having been in an accident, your responsibilities don’t necessarily end once you have finished exchanging information with the other party and then providing your version of the incident to the police.
If you happened to sustain any injuries and/or damages to your vehicle, you will likely begin the process known as a personal injury lawsuit. This legal action is crucial if you want to be justly compensated for your injures and the pain and suffering that can accompany medical issues.
The only route for receiving compensatory damages is through a personal injury case that, ultimately, would provide you with the necessary money to cover your medical care and any damages that occurred as a direct result of the accident.
This journey through the legal system could seem overwhelming and even daunting, especially if you have never In this 2022 Complete Guide to Personal Injury Cases, we will outline the litigation landmarks and the main points to be aware of so you receive adequate compensation for your injuries and damages if you are ever in an accident. Having a complete understanding of the legal process will enable you to make better decisions and increase the chances of succeeding in your personal injury case
Filing a Personal Injury Claim in Washington State
Once it has been determined that a credible legal case exists, the plaintiff’s attorney will file a personal injury complaint in civil court. This complaint essentially outlines what you, as the plaintiff, is accusing the defendant of doing, along with how you were injured.
Once the complaint has been filed, the plaintiff’s attorney must locate the defendant and “serve” the complaint on him or her. The receiveal of this complaint must be verified – physically handing the complaint to the defendant – so the defendant can’t in the future claim to be unaware of the lawsuit. In addition to the complaint, the service papers will inform the defendant of the date by which he or she must be present in court.
In Washington state, you have three years to file a personal injury claim from the date of the accident. If you do not file a personal injury claim within this prescribed amount of time, you are permanently prohibited from filing a personal injury claim for that particular accident.
Types of Personal Injury Cases
Personal injury cases can stem from a variety of incidents that could result in you being injured or worse. Some of these types of personal injury cases include:
- Traffic Accidents
- Medical Malpractice
- Workplace Accidents
- Unsafe Drugs
- Wrongful Death
- Product Liability
- Defamation, Libel, Slander
The Discovery Process for Your Personal Injury Case
Subsequent to initiating your personal injury lawsuit, both attorneys will launch into a formal process of collecting and reviewing evidence from the accident. Known as discovery, this legal process entails the plaintiff’s lawyer requesting that the defendant answer a battery of written questions. These questions are called interrogatories. Depositions, or formal questioning sessions, might be held, as well. During a deposition, your lawyer will pose questions to the defendant’s lawyer, in addition to any witnesses or experts. Their answers are given under oath. The defendant’s lawyer will also likely ask your attorney questions, too.
Types of Compensation You Can Sue for in a Personal Injury Case
Here are the most common types of compensation that your lawyer will most likely include in your settlement:
- Medical Bills
- Pain and Suffering
- Emotional Suffering
- Property Damage
- Loss of Income
- Out-of-pocket Expenses
The Potential Amount of Your Settlement
The amount of your settlement is determined based on the specifics of your lawsuit. For example, to be considered is how much damage your property or vehicle sustained. How much medical care will be necessary to treat your injuries? Have you experienced loss of income from your job as a result of the accident? Will your quality of life be impacted by the injuries you suffered in the accident?
The answers to these questions will be relied upon to set the dollar figure for your settlement. The judge in the case will also decide how much fault should be assigned to the victim. That percentage will be deducted from the lawsuit.
What is Negligence?
Negligence is used to determine fault in a personal injury case. In Washington state, comparative negligence enables plaintiffs in personal injury cases to receive compensation even if they are partially at fault for the accident.
Negligence is generally a matter of carelessness, an action or a failure to act in a way that any other prudent person would engage in a similar situation.
If you have been injured in an accident, it is important that you contact a personal injury attorney so they can explain the negligence law to you and help you optimize your settlement.
Settlement is Reached or You Go to Trial
The vast majority of personal injury cases – approximately 90 percent – are settled before ever going to trial. In most cases, the insurance company will present their offer, which usually is interpreted as insufficient by the plaintiff’s attorney.
As the plaintiff, your attorney will typically advise you to decline an initial settlement offer from an insurance company. More often than not, the insurance company will forward a low-ball offer as they are focused on looking out for their own best interests. Their goal is to convince victims to agree to the lowest possible dollar amount.
Your attorney, meanwhile, will counter the insurance company’s offer with a demand letter, which contains a settlement amount that is fair and reasonable to you, the plaintiff. It will also adequately cover your damages that include pain and suffering.
Afterward, both sides in the personal injury case enter into negotiations and typically agree on a settlement that falls in the middle of what both sides are seeking.
If your case ends up being one of the minority of cases that makes it to trial, you can plan on it lasting at least several days or longer. Once the trial commences, the judge or the jury will decide whether the defendant is at fault for the accident, as well as for the plaintiff’s losses. The trial will also result in determining how much the defendant should pay out in damages.
Each side has the option of pursuing an appeal if they don’t agree with the verdict. The appeals process could take months or a few years to culminate in a ruling.
Thank you for taking the time to read through our 2022 Complete Guide to Personal Injury Cases. We hope that you have found this guide comprehensive and has allowed you to feel more confident about your personal injury case.
Roberts Jones Law Is Here To Serve Your Legal Needs During Personal Injury Cases
If you have been involved in an accident and there are multiple parties involved, you need legal services from an experienced personal injury attorney from Roberts Jones Law. Our attorneys at Roberts Jones Law have the expertise and experience necessary to effectively handle multiple insurance companies simultaneously and to build a case designed to protect your rights and interests.
At Roberts Jones Law we will provide you with the guidance, care, and support needed to secure the compensation you deserve. If you have been injured as a result of someone’s carelessness, breach of duty of care, or deliberate act, you have rights under the law to seek compensation for your damages.
Trust the attorneys at Roberts Jones Law when you want legal services catered to your individual needs.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not contain legal advice.