How Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Work?

How Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Work?

Personal injuries happen in your community every day, but when it happens to you, it can be hard to know what you should do and how a personal injury lawsuit works.

For example, if you suffer injuries in an incident where you blame another individual, business, or party, you may have a personal injury case. Knowing how a personal injury lawsuit works and what leads up to one can help you decide the best approach to your case and what to anticipate if you go down that route following a personal injury.

What Is the Purpose of a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Filing a personal injury lawsuit is a process that works to help victims that suffer injuries and losses that arise from an accident or incident that occurred because of another party’s negligent actions or inactions. The basis for most personal injury cases is negligence and the notion that one or multiple parties in some way contributed to your injuries. The law gives victims of personal injury due to others’ negligence a way to get compensation for the injuries and losses they sustain.

Who Can Sue for a Personal Injury?

Anyone that suffers an injury stemming from negligence may have the grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit against the parties responsible for seeking compensation for their losses. Under the law, the basis of a personal injury lawsuit must meet the statutory elements of negligence for a court to find that the defendant is, in fact, liable for your injuries.

While filing a lawsuit is available to any injury victim, it may not always be the best option for you or a feasible solution depending on the facts of your case.

The negligence law indicates that a plaintiff must establish that:

  • The at-fault party has a duty of care they owe to you at the time of the injury
  • That the at-fault party, whether through their overt act or lack of action, breached the duty of care
  • You suffer an injury or verifiable harm
  • The harm you incur is because the at-fault party breached their duty of care to you

Most Common Types of Personal Injury Cases

Personal injury law is a vast area of law that can cover a wide range of situations. For example, all personal injury cases have different facts, injuries, and circumstances giving rise to the injuries, which can ultimately affect a victim’s recovery.

Some of the most common personal injury cases involve:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Bicycling or pedestrian accidents
  • Slip and fall cases
  • Defective products
  • Medical malpractice
  • Worker’s injuries

What Injuries Can a Victim Suffer in a Personal Injury Matter?

How Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Work?

The injury you sustain can influence your prognosis. A personal injury accident can significantly affect your physical and emotional health.

In addition, care for any injury that requires medical attention can result in high costs to you and lost wages. This, in turn, can create challenges and stress as you try to support yourself and your family while managing your recovery.

Injuries to a victim of a personal injury can be:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Other neck or head injuries
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Back injuries
  • Burns
  • Amputations
  • Development of illness
  • Permanent disability
  • Loss of senses such as vision or hearing
  • Broken bones
  • Torn muscles, tendons, or ligaments
  • Internal injuries
  • Road rash


How Do You Know Whether a Lawsuit Is Necessary in Your Case?

The answer to this question is complex and one you usually cannot get a definitive answer to immediately following a personal injury. Consulting with a personal injury attorney is the first step in getting the answers on how best to proceed with your case and your chance at recovering compensation for your losses.

Many personal injury cases never see a courtroom or require a lawsuit filing. Often, a personal injury lawyer can help a victim negotiate a successful insurance claim that reasonably and fairly covers the damages to you.

However, there are some situations where settling is not possible, or settling can cause you to miss out on a large amount of compensation you could otherwise receive through a court. Your lawyer is your best resource for understanding the specific intricacies of your case and when to file a lawsuit to get the compensation you need.

Liability for a Personal Injury Accident

Who you sue for a personal injury is an important decision in your case. Your attorney will work with you to discover any party that may be liable for your damages.

The individual or entity directly responsible, or others you may not know about, can bear liability. Revealing who caused your losses can help you decide who you can seek compensation from, whether through a lawsuit or an insurance claim.

Why Would You Sue an Insurance Company for a Personal Injury?

Lawsuits for personal injury most commonly proceed against the party responsible for the events leading to your injuries. However, it is common for personal injury attorneys to file lawsuits against the insurance company handling your claim. Suing an insurer for personal injury damages is standard practice when there is a disagreement as to who is liable or how much liability falls on each party.

Additionally, insurance companies may not offer reasonable settlements that cover the losses you incur when the injuries are severe and your damages appear to be significant. In these examples, a personal injury attorney may sue the insurer for failing to abide by the terms of their policy or an independent determination of fault by the court.

What Is the Timeline of a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

A personal injury lawsuit consists of a series of steps and a process through which a victim of an injury can file suit to demand compensation for the injuries and ensuing losses from a personal injury accident.

Each personal injury case varies, and the time it takes for one is not a good indication of what it will take for your case to resolve. Speaking with your attorney can help you understand what to expect in your case, the timeline of a personal injury lawsuit, and the steps involved.

Acceptance of Your Case, Hiring of a Personal Injury Attorney

Filing a lawsuit without an attorney, while technically possible, is never a good idea. Hiring an attorney to represent you in your personal injury case is the first step in the fight for compensation in your case.

To hire a lawyer, you must first schedule a consultation. During this initial consultation, the attorney’s office will listen to the case details and may let you know whether they can accept your case to represent you. If they accept your case, you may then proceed to hire the attorney on your behalf and agree to the terms of their representation and fees if you get compensation in your case.

Building Your Case

Once you are officially a client, your lawyer will investigate the case and gather whatever evidence supports your claim for example, what caused the events leading to your injuries, who is responsible, and the estimated damages you have and may incur. Attorneys will also acquire and request testimony from experts or other witnesses with insights into your injuries or recovery.

Negotiating on Your Behalf

Negotiations are a crucial part of every personal injury case. If negotiations with an insurance company or party at fault succeed, you may get compensation for your losses while avoiding the necessity of going to court. When negotiations are not fruitful or reach a standstill, a lawsuit becomes the logical next step for a plaintiff seeking the recovery of their damages after a personal injury.

If you receive a settlement offer you want to accept you can consult with your attorney to take the offer and avoid a trial. Your lawyer can provide an in-depth analysis of the offers you receive and what they think you may or may not get through a trial.

Filing a Lawsuit

At some point, your attorney will speak with you about when to file a lawsuit in court. Filing a lawsuit can occur at any time following a personal injury incident so long as it is within the statute of limitations in your state.

These statutes can indicate as little as one year or several years from the date of the accident. Knowing and discussing the statute of limitations for your state is essential to ensure you protect your rights and take action promptly for your case.

Discovery and Mediation

As part of a personal injury lawsuit, your attorney will engage in the discovery process with the other party or parties in the case. During this process, you can find out what evidence the other case may rely on and their views of the case. In some states, the court may also order mediation between the parties to try for a resolution that avoids trial and further intervention by the court.

Personal Injury Trial

If negotiations and mediations are unsuccessful, your case may go to trial. During a personal injury trial, each side will present evidence, arguments, and witnesses to support their position. After presenting the evidence, the court will decide the case. The trial verdict can decide who caused your personal injury and include an award for your damages if the court decides the law entitles you to one.

What Steps Can You Take to Prepare for a Potential Personal Injury Lawsuit?

An attorney will take the brunt of the responsibility for your case and manage the next steps along the way. However, you can contribute a few easy things.

Gather Your Evidence

In your first meetings with your attorney, they will want to review your evidence. While your lawyer will work to collect additional evidence that you may not have access to or that they discover in the time after the accident, there is some evidence that you may have in your possession that could benefit your case.

Police reports, personal medical records, videos, and photographs at the scene or of your injuries can help your lawyer prepare an insurance claim and lawsuit.

Keep Thorough and Accurate Records

Another practical step to help your injury case is to gather your thoughts and experience from the day of the incident and your recovery. Include your recollections of what happened and how you feel as your injuries heal and you receive treatment. Also, include any pertinent statements or conversations you may have had with other parties to the case that could be relevant in proving fault or the extent of your injuries.

Call An Attorney as Soon as Possible After a Personal Injury

Grand Rapids Personal Injury Lawyer, Scott R. Melton

To work through the personal injury lawsuit process, you should have an attorney representing you immediately after your injury. Contact a personal injury attorney near you for a free consultation on your case. They can help you see what compensation the law may entitle you to from the parties responsible for your injuries.