When you’ve been injured as a result of another person’s actions, there’s always a strong need for justice. After all, why should you bear the burden of the costs associated with your injury when it’s someone else’s negligence that caused it?
The personal injury claims process is complicated and includes hiring an experienced attorney to:
While you can certainly file an insurance claim on your own without a lawyer, hiring a professional legal team will be incredibly beneficial. Not only will you have to do less of the legal legwork yourself, but personal injury victims ultimately tend to get bigger settlements in the end.
Your personal injury lawyer will likely handle the bulk of the work on your behalf, but it’s important to understand the injury claim process as your attorney is moving through it so that you can play your part adequately.
The first thing you need to understand is what an injury claim is. A claim is defined as a formal proclamation that you, the plaintiff, are owed compensation for the loss. A personal injury claim asserts your right to be paid back for damages incurred as a result of an injury caused by another – the defendant.
So, you feel that you have grounds to file a personal injury claim against the party you feel is responsible for your injury. Before any official legal action can be taken, there are some things you need to collect or sort out.
Bring these items with you to your initial consultation:
Having these items compiled and organized in preparation for your first meeting with a personal injury attorney will ensure a speedy process, saving you time and money.
At your first meeting with the attorney, you’ll explain the injury incident and why you feel the other party is responsible. Fault will be determined based on documentation and the legal knowledge of your lawyer, and they will decide whether your claim is valid and will likely result in settlement.
Next, your lawyer will send a letter of demand to the defendant’s insurance provider. This letter is a formal request for financial compensation on the injured party’s behalf.
The demand letter will detail:
The demand package that your lawyer will send to the at-fault party will include:
Once the demand package is received by the insurance company, they’ll determine a course of action and will either pay the settlement, present a counteroffer, or decline to pay the settlement at all. At this point, your lawyer may progress into settlement negotiations with the insurance carrier, or they’ll move forward with a formal lawsuit.
When no settlement can be agreed on (or the insurance company declines to pay the settlement at all), a personal injury complaint will be submitted. A complaint is a formal notice to the court that you are filing a lawsuit against the defendant and the insurance company.
Once filed, the complaint needs to be officially served to the defendant within a set period.
Once the complaint has been filed and served to the defendant, your lawyer (and the defendant’s lawyer) will enter a period where investigations are performed, witnesses are interviewed, and evidence is gathered.
Most personal injury cases are settled before they get to the point of a trial. Trials are expensive, and most insurance companies avoid the cost of court fees by eventually settling on a compensation agreement.
However, should your claim be denied by the insurance carrier, your lawyer may take your case to trial. The court will hear both sides of the case, and either a jury or a judge will provide judgment on the case. The defendant will either be held liable and ordered to pay the damages, or the defendant will be deemed not liable, and the case will be dismissed.
It often takes a while for a lawsuit to be brought before the court in South Carolina. Particularly when it comes to personal injury lawsuits, insurance companies are known to intentionally delay the process to gain more time to build their case against you.
From the time a complaint is filed with the court, it can take anywhere between one and two years for the case to finally be called before a judge. The good news is that the trial itself often takes only a week or so before a judgment is reached.
A statute of limitations refers to how long after the incident the plaintiff has to file a lawsuit against the responsible party. When it comes to the South Carolina statute of limitations for personal injury, you have three years to file your lawsuit – two years if the responsible party is a government entity.
After the time period has elapsed, you will not be able to legally seek compensation for the damages you incurred due to the incident.
When you’ve experienced physical hardships, financial loss, and emotional trauma as a result of an injury, it’s important to pursue legal action against the responsible party as soon as possible. With the help of an experienced personal injury attorney, you’ll get the fair settlement you deserve without the headaches of having to do the legal legwork yourself.