Every day in West Palm Beach, Florida, people are injured. For some, it could result from carelessness or as a result of someone else’s carelessness. Injuries caused by another person’s negligence often result in personal injury claims.
Claims can be made following slips and falls, car accidents, or injuries sustained at work. Regardless of the type of injury, one thing is certain — personal injury victims should speak with a lawyer for advice when seeking compensation.
In our experience as West Palm Beach personal injury lawyers, we’ve realized that not everyone understands what personal injuries are. Furthermore, not many people understand how personal injury cases work. This article explains how personal injury claims work and what victims can expect.
How To Recognize a Personal Injury Case
Not all injuries qualify as personal injury cases. The major determinant of a personal injury case is that the actions of another person must have directly or indirectly caused it. In addition, this individual must be in a position that imposes a duty to ensure that no one would be injured by their actions or inactions.
However, it is not always straightforward as the victim must prove the at-fault party’s liability. Also, each case is different and may require different approaches. Therefore, hiring an experienced West Palm Beach personal injury lawyer is vital during the claims process.
How Do Personal Injury Cases Work?
Lawsuits often follow the same process with slight variations. This section covers how personal injury cases work. However, it is essential to remember that not all personal injury cases will follow the pattern listed here. Some claims will be settled out of court, while some may go to trial.
The Plaintiff (Victim) Is Injured and Hires a Lawyer
The beginning of any personal injury case is an injury to the plaintiff. Without evidence that the plaintiff suffered damages, there would be no case. After being injured, the plaintiff may choose to hire a lawyer for representation, which is well-advised.
The decision to hire or not hire a lawyer will depend on the case’s specifics. If an individual suffered minor injuries, they might prefer to go without legal counsel. However, if the injuries are severe, it would be best to seek legal representation.
Regardless of the case, speak to a lawyer before making a decision. Fortunately, most lawyers offer a free consultation before taking on any clients. During the initial consultation, the attorney will ask questions to determine how the accident happened, whether the victim has a valid claim, and how to proceed.
If the lawyer decides that the case has merit, they will inform the victim and represent them. Conversely, if the claim has no chance of success, the attorney will notify the victim. This way, the injured party does not waste time and resources on a case that will not benefit them. Note that personal injury lawyers often work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they usually are not paid until their clients win.
The Plaintiff’s Lawyer Attempts Settlements
As we pointed out earlier, not all personal injury cases go to court. Therefore, the plaintiff’s lawyer may consider settlement if they think there’s a chance that they can settle the claim out of court. However, settlement discussions do not commence immediately.
Good personal injury lawyers will wait until the plaintiff has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). The MMI means that the victim’s injury has gotten to where their condition will not get better. Filing a claim or starting a settlement discussion before this will only cause the jury or defendant’s lawyer and insurer to undervalue the case.
File a Claim Against the Defendant
After establishing that the plaintiff has a legitimate case, the lawyer will then draft and file a personal injury complaint against the defendant. This complaint will contain details of the plaintiff’s claim including what the plaintiff alleges the defendant has done.
In addition to filing a complaint, the lawyer will ensure that the complaint is delivered (served) to the defendant. Serving a complaint must be done physically or in a way that the defendant is sure to receive it. This ensures that the defendant cannot claim to be unaware of the action.
The Defendant Hires a Lawyer
After the defendant has received the complaint, they will likely find a lawyer. If they have an existing insurance policy, they also must inform their insurance provider. If the defendant has not hired a lawyer when they inform their insurance company, the insurance company will provide one for them.
Now that a complaint has been filed, the case will move to a pre-trial phase. At this point, the two parties ask for evidence to support their claims. This process is called the discovery phase.
During this time, depositions may be scheduled, while there will be a few court appearances to try and set a date for trial. This process could last a few months and may often drag on for a year.
A personal injury case can be settled at any point. However, assuming all attempts at a settlement fails, the case will move forward to trial. During the trial, the judge and jury will examine the information presented to them.
Examining the evidence presented helps them determine if the defendant was responsible for the plaintiff’s injury. In addition, it helps them determine whether the defendant is responsible and if so, the amount that the defendant should be held accountable for. After examining the evidence, they arrive at their decision.
What Damages Are Available in a Personal Injury Case?
The reason for a personal injury claim is for an injured person to be compensated for injuries that were caused by the negligence of another person. Therefore, damages are awarded to reflect that. Personal injury damages are classified into economic and non-economic damages.
The most common economic damage awarded in a personal injury case is medical costs. This will cover the cost of all medical treatment that victims go through due to their injuries. The victim can also receive lost wages from work.
Some injuries are so severe that they render victims incapable of performing their jobs. Damages may be awarded to cover a victim’s expected earnings for the period spent recuperating. Victims may also receive compensation for future wages if the accident renders them incapable of performing their job at the required level.
In cases where the victim dies, a settlement could be awarded to cover the burial costs, while a victim’s family may be able to sue for loss of consortium. Furthermore, punitive damages may be awarded as punishment for the defendant in certain cases.
Learn How the Best Personal Injury Lawyers in Florida Can Help Personal Injury Victims
A lawyer’s experience and expertise can determine how well a case will go. We often advise crash victims to choose experienced lawyers with a track record of delivering results and fighting to the end.
Our legal team at Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers possess these qualities and more. We understand that an injury will take a toll on victims, and we do our best to take much of the burden away from them. In addition, we offer a free consultation for prospective clients to assist them in making a decision. Give us a call at (561) 800-8000 today to learn more about our services.