A personal injury claim, while one of the most common types of litigation in the US, is uncharted territory for most people. While you may have suffered an injury–in a car accident, in someone’s home, from a product–the process of making a personal injury claim may feel overwhelming and confusing.
The facts about personal injury cases
Claims of injury must be proven in order to obtain and recover damage, and litigation for a personal injury claim can be complicated and stressful. The personal injury attorneys at Trent Law Firm explain these four facts everyone needs to know about personal injury cases.
1. Insurance Companies are protecting themselves, not you
Insurance providers have a goal: they want to make a profit. As a result, they work hard to minimize payouts and downplay damages sustained by claimants, in order to protect their profits. Communicating directly with an insurance company you have a claim against without the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney can result in insurance companies attempting to collect evidence against the validity of your injuries to avoid paying the compensation that you deserve.
When you need to file a claim with an insurance company, never provide more information than is absolutely necessary, and never allow the insurance company to take your written or recorded statement. Insurance companies collect this information to try to minimize your claim by finding inconsistencies in your testimony, determining certain costs to be unrelated to your claim, and using a variety of other tricks. If the insurance company contacts you in an attempt to discuss your case, your best course of action is to politely tell them to contact your attorney.
2. Representation matters
Speaking of attorneys, your choice of representation is one of the most important decisions you can make. Inexperienced attorneys can leave victims of serious injuries or clients with complex incidents with less compensation than they could have otherwise received. Seeking out an attorney that understands the hardships associated with serious personal injuries can help you both financially and emotionally during the course of your claim. Personal Injury claims can feel overwhelming, which is why the advice and support of an experienced and dedicated personal injury attorney are invaluable.
3. Litigation takes time
Because of the procedural hurdles required to pursue a personal injury claim, along with the indefinite amount of time a client may take to finish treatment for their injuries or make a full recovery (under the assumption that the injury they sustained is not disabling or otherwise permanently life-altering), the length of time it takes to finalize a personal injury claim can be substantial.
Personal injury claims, as with nearly all other actionable events, are governed by a concept known as the Statute of Limitations. The Statute of Limitations to file a personal injury case varies from state to state. For example, in Illinois, personal injury actions must be filed within two years of the date of the accident, while in Florida, actions can be filed up to four years after the date of accident.
The duration of a personal injury claim can’t be predicted and relies on a variety of factors. Some of the most important factors to consider include:
- The context, nature, and fact pattern of the incident: Incidents that involve multiple people or complicated timelines can delay resolving a personal injury claim. For example, a personal injury claim from a rear-end auto collision might be resolved within a couple of years from the date of the claim. A personal injury claim for medical malpractice can take exponentially longer, as these cases are often highly complex and may require specialized experience and knowledge to pursue.
- The amount of damages: Defense attorneys and insurance companies seek to protect the interests of the insurance company or the defendant and ensure as little damage as possible. Cases involving major claims of damage are likely to take longer to settle than cases with minor damages, although this is not always the case.
- The length of medical treatment: Typically, personal injury cases will not be settled until after the plaintiff completes medical treatment. This is necessary to ensure that the total amount of medical expenses are fully known, to maximize the amount of any potential settlement. This is also done to assess whether injuries sustained by the victim prove to be permanently disabling, which can drastically alter the settlement amount.
- Some cases are settled before medical treatment is finished, and an award might be finalized to ensure ongoing care. This is sometimes seen in birth injury suits and car accident claims.
4. Contingency fees make personal injury claims accessible
Most personal injury attorneys will agree to take a client’s case on a contingency fee. A contingency fee allows attorneys to take a percentage of the recovery amount when the claim is settled rather than charging an hourly rate for their services throughout the duration of the case. By taking cases on contingency, attorneys can ensure that they are compensated for the work that they do without having to continually bill an already over-extended client.
Being involved in a personal injury accident can be confusing for victims and their families. Knowing these four important personal injury facts can help you make more informed choices in how to proceed with filing a personal injury claim and finding a high-quality legal representative to protect your interests.