Getting injured sucks. Not only are you left to deal with the consequences of your injury, but also with the bill for your injury. Even worse, if you are not the one to blame for your accident, you may feel like paying for your bills and expenses related to the injury is unwarranted.
Luckily, injury law has you covered. Your settlement and compensation for your injury may not be as out of reach as you think if you contact an attorney and go through the process. Read on to learn more about:
The Scope of Injury Law: Is It Just Slips and Falls?
Before You Go to Court: The Terms, Process, and Expectations; and
Finally Getting What You Deserve: Going with the Right Attorney.
What Does Injury Law Cover?
Injury law is a very broad field: just the term “injury” is as open as can be when it comes to what it may cover in a legal sense. The field covers any dispute where one person suffers harm from an injury that another person may assume responsibility for; this may include payment of medical bills (both one-time and ongoing), pain and suffering restitution, or other medical-related payments (therapy, medication, etc.).
“Harm” may conjure to the mind any type of assault, battery, vehicle accident, occupational hazard-related injury, or like-physical injury. Where injury law certainly covers these, the scope is more extensive. A few other examples of injuries you may see settlement from include:
Food poisoning (from restaurants, frozen foods, fast food restaurants, etc.);
Wrongful death or medical injuries (surgery-related, injury as an after-effect of medical treatment);
Injury lawsuits are highly common because of how many fields fall under its umbrella. With each having their own relevant risks, the possibility for injury is high and could involve serious harm to you or a loved one. It is important to be quick and headstrong if something happens. Get in touch with an injury lawyer immediately but be sure to have notes and initial pieces of evidence at your disposal. These will help tell the story leading up to and following the accident.
Injury Law’s Legal Process: Things to Know Before You Head to Court
Being the victim of any of these may entitle you to a sizable settlement. So how do you go about fighting for it? One of two ways: a formal lawsuit or settling out of court.
In a formal lawsuit, a plaintiff (you) files a complaint against a defendant (person, business, corporation, or agency) relating to the injury. Typically, the complaint will detail how the defendant acted carelessly or with negligence that resulted in said injury.
Settling out of court, otherwise known as an informal settlement, involves the dispute ending early with both parties coming together out of court and negotiating terms. This effectively lets both parties forgo a lawsuit and agree on a payment that both believe is fair.
Another relevant term to injury law is the statute of limitations, which is why contacting an attorney as soon as possible is imperative to having your case seen in court. The statute of limitations puts a limited timeline on when a plaintiff may file a lawsuit beginning at the time of injury (or its discovery) and ending three years later. It is important to keep in mind that the timeline no longer applies to you once you have found your personal injury attorney.
We have mentioned ‘evidence’ and how you need to gather it promptly, but what does that entail?
Notes about the incident and injury: it is very important that you have a clear picture of what happened during the incident and the harm you suffered. Be sure to record the before, during, after potential witnesses, the location, and any other conditions crucial to the story of your injury. You will also want to do the same for your injuries themselves. Write about their impact on your life, your treatment, if you had to go to physical therapy, and other ways it affected your day-to-day life.
Photos and Videos: you should take as many pictures as possible, depending on your case. Taking clear photo evidence can make a world’s difference in court. It both backs up your claims and helps tell your story in a clear and visual way. Videos, too, can help tremendously.
Police Reports: hopefully, someone called 9-1-1 when your accident occurred. If a police officer showed up to the scene, they most likely filed a report. These reports describe the circumstances of an incident from a third party—and law enforcement at that—while collecting crucial information about the time of day, location and weather.
These are all pieces of evidence you can gather at your disposal. There are some things you may be able to help with, but for the most part, your lawyer will handle what is called discovery, which takes place after a complaint is filed leading up to a court date. Attorneys engage in fact-finding to gain a sense of the scope of a case and what they may use in court to defend and argue your side of the story. They may use a couple of different methods:
Interrogatories: these may come from the opposite side in the form of written questions asking about your version of the facts, which you and your attorney may complete together.
Depositions: these are questions asked in-person with a court reporter who keeps a detailed transcript for further use in court. Sometimes, this may be used to get you to tell a single version of your story ahead of your actual day in court—leading to the defense pointing out inconsistencies on your end. Luckily, you have your attorney and can prepare thoroughly ahead of time if needed.
Once you go through these motions, the only thing left to do is present the facts and get your settlement.
Do not settle for less: a lawyer can help you get more. If you suffer an injury and the responsible party reaches out with an immediate settlement offer, a lawyer can help evaluate whether you deserve more.
In any case, it is a bad idea to represent yourself. Though you know your injuries best, a lawyer knows how to navigate insurance companies, tricks by the defendant’s legal team, and any pressure from corporate hierarchies that try and intimidate you into taking a smaller settlement.
When it comes to anything to do with the law, you should always have a lawyer with you. They are an advocate who sticks by your side and argues for your best outcome. Lawyers are compassionate, strong-willed, and educated people who can help navigate any compromising point in your life. Most of all, a lawyer will be there when it counts the most—whether that’s in criminal defense, personal injury, or family law.