Accidents happen all the time. But when an accident happens as a result of another person or entity’s wrongdoing or negligence, the injured party may be entitled to monetary compensation. This is referred to as a personal injury claim. Some cases are straightforward and you may not need an attorney. However, in most cases, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you make sure you get the full compensation that you need and hold the negligent person, company, or government agency liable for their actions.
How Personal Injury Claims Work
There are two common types of personal injury legal procedures: 1) informal settlements and 2) formal lawsuits.
Most personal injury claims are resolved in the form of an early settlement. The parties generally involved in informal settlements include:
- The injured party (plaintiff)
- The at-fault party (defendant)
- Insurance company
- Representing attorneys
The parties come to a settlement after engaging in a series of negotiations. The final agreement is memorialized by a written document that is signed by both parties. This agreement is known as a “release”. It typically includes a dollar amount that the defendant’s insurance carrier has agreed to pay the plaintiff in exchange for not pursuing any further legal action or lawsuits.
If the parties cannot reach an informal agreement, the plaintiff’s attorney has the option to either file a lawsuit or release the file.
In formal personal injury lawsuits, a private individual (the “plaintiff”) files a lawsuit against another individual, business, corporation or government entity (the “defendant”). The suit usually claims that the plaintiff suffered an injury or harm caused by the defendant’s negligence, irresponsibility or carelessness (regardless of intention).
A typical lawsuit involves a series of steps. Below are 10 steps that most personal injury lawsuits generally go through:
- The parties exhausted all steps of an informal settlement.
- The plaintiff’s attorney files a lawsuit – beginning what is known as “formal litigation”
- The defendant files their answer after being served with the lawsuit.
- Both parties engage in discovery –both sides are able to obtain information from each other through written discovery and oral discovery (known as a “deposition”).
- The parties will often engage in certain actions using “motions” –the judge will decide whether the motion is valid or not.
- The judge will generally order a pretrial conference to narrow the issues down further and/or engage in settlement talks again before going to trial.
- Trial – the parties get their day in court to try to convince the judge and/or jury to believe their version of the story.
- Once trial is over, the judge or jury will deliberate and make a decision as to what amount to award the plaintiff.
- After the verdict, the losing side may bring post-trial motions and appeals to convince the judge that another remedy is sufficient.
- Once it is all over, the winning party will be responsible to collect on the judgement.
Consult with an Orange County Personal Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident that was caused by the negligent or reckless act of another person or entity, you may be entitled to monetary damages. For more information or to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Orange County personal injury attorney, call the Law Offices of Samer Habbas today at 888.848.5084.