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What is the Typical Process for Filing an Injury Claim?

Howry, Breen & Herman, LLP

Every personal injury claim is unique because the accidents that make claims necessary are also unique. But whether you were hit by a truck driver, fell in a retail store, took defective medication, or became injured by someone else’s negligence through any other means, the process for filing a personal injury claim should follow a predictable path. Legal differences that can arise due to the state or county you call home will not even dramatically change the basic steps needed to file an injury claim.

Step 1 – Call an Attorney

Your personal injury claim will be done before it can begin if a court reviews it and determines you do not have legal standing to demand compensation from the defendant. Think of all the time and energy you could put into building a claim, and how awful it would feel to find out your case fizzles on its first day.

To make certain your injury claim has a chance of success, you should always start by calling a local personal injury lawyer. With an attorney’s help, you can know for certain if your claim is legally valid and worth pursuing. Liability laws are one of the biggest factors that change whether or not a claim is valid. For example, some states will not allow you to collect damages from a defendant if you were even 1% liable for your own injuries.

Step 2 – Calculate Your Damages

The purpose of your personal injury claim is to receive compensation that pays for your damages caused by the defendant. Your injury claim could help you find closure or a sense of justice, which is fantastic, but the underlying purpose will usually be securing fair compensation.

How much compensation is fair? How much compensation is not possible because of insurance caps? Again, an attorney can help you calculate your damages. Everything from insurance policies and medical records to paystubs and expert opinions can all change the final amount you demand in your claim. It’s important to keep in mind that your damages need to be based on the costs you have already experienced, expenses you will likely experience in the future, and a reasonable amount for the pain and suffering you have endured.

Step 3 – Determine the Right Court

If you have reached step three, then you are essentially beyond the most difficult parts of filing a personal injury claim: establishing liability and calculating damages. Now, you need to find out where your claim should be filed. There is probably a local courthouse you never knew was in your town or county that will accept your claim. If you do not want to bother with filing your claim yourself, then your attorney can act on your behalf and do it for you.

Step 4 – File Your Claim on Time

The last step of filing a personal injury claim is – not too surprising – actually filing it. Every state has its own statute of limitations on personal injury claims that usually begins on the date of an accident or when an injury becomes reasonably apparent. If you wait too long to file your claim and the statute of limitations passes, then the court will reject any claims filed after that point, defeating your chances of getting compensation then and there.

Statute of limitations can also change depending on who you name as a defendant and why. For example, filing a claim against a government entity can trigger a shorter-than-usual deadline, sometimes as brief as a few months. To avoid missing your chance to file your claim, you should refer back to step 1 and call an attorney shortly after your accident. Getting them involved early on will give them plenty of time to evaluate evidence and build your claim before applicable statutes of limitations end.

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