A personal injury case is a legal complaint, or lawsuit, filed by or on behalf of someone who is injured due to another person or business. The most common instance of personal injury case is when someone is hurt on the job, but lawsuits are also filed on behalf of customers in businesses or in various other places.
A personal injury case is a civil court proceeding and is filed by a citizen, whereas criminal cases are initiated by the government. As such, it is possible for a case to be presented in civil court and a similar case to be presented in criminal court with each case having a different outcome since the burden of proof in a criminal case is more stringent.
If you were injured and feel that the injury is another person or a company’s fault, consider a free consultation with a personal injury attorney to see if you might be entitled to a financial settlement that will help with your medical costs, lost wages, and any pain and suffering that the injury has caused.
In the United States, each state has its own Statute of Limitations that determines how much time a person has to file a civil complaint regarding a personal injury, and the amount of time legally provided often varies based on the type of injury sustained. For example, most states provide more time to file a complaint about a sex crime than for a workers’ compensation claim. Usually, the Statute of Limitations begins on the date when the injury is sustained.
Unlike criminal cases which are governed by statutes and penal codes, civil cases are often decided based on precedent, or the history of similar cases in similar courts or in treatises written by legal experts. For this reason, when presenting a personal injury complaint, it is vital to have a well-studied attorney who is familiar with the relevant cases that could affect the disposition of your own.
The amount of money you are entitled to may vary, but the cost of your medical treatment plus the value of your lost wages and legal fees is a good starting point. There is often an additional sum granted by the court for your pain and suffering or for punitive damages. Keep in mind that personal injury complaints are frequently settled before the matter advances to trial and that plaintiffs often accept a reduced offer as part of the negotiation with the defendant.
It is recommended that you contact an attorney at your earliest convenience after sustaining the injury, and before any dealings with insurance companies or the defendant’s legal representation. Your attorney will instruct you concerning any action that you can take to prove your case in court, like taking photographs of your injury or the scene of the incident. Often, attorneys work directly with healthcare providers in order to direct your medical care and rehabilitation and to document everything that is happening with your body for presentation to the court or to the defendant’s attorney.
Bring any documents that pertain to the incident, including your insurance policy, police reports, and citations, statements of witnesses and photographs. Ask your attorney over the phone if there is any additional information that he will need. When in doubt, bring it. Bringing a list of your questions for the attorney is also useful.
During or before the interview, establish the attorney’s credentials. A lot of money is exchanged in legal proceedings and there are many organizations that you can utilize to establish that your attorney is honest and competent. The following questions can help in that process:
Your attorney should have information on hand regarding all of these questions. Since this matter concerns your health, it is worthwhile to have consultations with more than one attorney before deciding which one is right for you and to ask your friends and colleagues if there is a trustworthy attorney that they can recommend.