If you have been injured, then you may find yourself wondering whether you can take legal action or not. So, what does personal injury really mean, and how does filing a personal injury lawsuit work?
First off, personal injury is any injury to an individual, when defined simply. However, when it comes to personal injury law, this can become more complex. Personal injury can include car accidents where you were not at fault, work-related injuries, pedestrian accidents, slip-and-fall incidents, and much more. Depending on the complexity of your case, you will likely want to seek out a personal injury attorney that has experience working with cases like your own.
How Are Personal Injury Cases Settled?
One of the most frustrating things when you are the victim of a personal injury case is waiting for settlement – especially if you are relying on that settlement to pay your medical bills, or even your regular bills while you recover and get ready to go back to work.
There are two main ways that personal injury cases are settled – in a formal lawsuit, or through an informal settlement.
A formal lawsuit allows you (the “plaintiff”) to file a “complaint” of sorts against another person, business, corporation or even a government agency (the “defendant”). When you do this, you are alleging that the individual or entity acted carelessly or irresponsibly in a way that is directly connected with your accident or injury, and was the reason for the resulting harm you suffered. This is basically filing a lawsuit, in which you will go to court and a final settlement amount will be determined by a judge.
An informal settlement on the other hand allows you to settle things outside of the courtroom and is the more common way for a personal injury case to be resolved. This is usually in the form of a settlement, often agreed upon between the injured, the individual or entity being held liable, their insurers, and the attorneys representing both sides. Generally, there is negotiation between the attorneys or a mediator, and when an agreement is met, it is put in writing for both sides to sign.
It also often requires that both sides agree to forgo taking further action (such as a future lawsuit), saving both time and money for all parties involved.
How Long Do I have to File Personal Injury Suit?
How long you can take file your personal injury case, complaint or lawsuit depends on a number of variable factors including where you live, what type of accident took place leading to the injury, and how long ago it happened.
Generally, personal injury claims are subject to something called a Statute of Limitations, which limits how long you can wait to report a claim before you no longer can. This will vary by state, so be sure to check the specific Statute of Limitations for your state if you are considering filing a complaint long after the fact. It will also depend on what type of personal injury case it is –the limitations for filing against an individual (for example a car accident claim) will be different than it is for a sex crime or a workplace injury. However, in most cases, you are better off filing your claim as soon as possible after the injury occurs or is discovered.
If you have questions regarding personal injury law or are looking for representation in a personal injury claim, contact the experienced attorneys at Fetterman & Associates for a free consultation.