While you can rely on your attorney to know the ins and outs of the whole process, it won’t hurt to familiarize yourself with the steps as well. Having a basic understanding of what you need to do when filing a personal injury claim will help you better coordinate with your lawyer. In this article, we give you a step-by-step guide in filing a claim so that you know what to expect in advance.
Writing A Demand Letter To Your Insurer
You initiate a personal injury claim by sending your insurance provider a demand letter. The demand letter should include the following:
• Details on the injuries you’ve sustained
• The medical treatments and care you need to recover from your injuries
• Your medical expenses
• Negative impacts that your injuries have had on your quality of life
• Lost wages due to your injuries preventing you from work
• Reasonability of cause of your accident
Your lawyer should help you fill in these details and advise you on any documents or proof that you need to attach to your demand letter.
If your insurance provider denies your claim, they’re refusing to pay for your injuries. They may deny your claim on the grounds that they believe that the accident that caused your injury was your fault. Otherwise, they may also cite lack of evidence as their reason for denying your claim.
As recourse, you and your lawyer would initiate the next step, which is to file a complaint.
Filing A Legal Complaint
Your next step involves submitting a complaint to the court of law. The complaint would be directed to your insurance company, and cite you as a plaintiff seeking compensation for your injuries.
It should outline everything that was included in the demand letter. This includes your reasons for pursuing compensation and documents that substantiate your personal injury claim. The complaint should also ask for judgment regarding the amount you’re seeking for compensation.
The court will then preside over your complaint and issue jurisdiction over the lawsuit.
Going Through Deposition
Otherwise referred to as the ‘Discovery’ phase of a lawsuit, deposition is a process where the plaintiff and defendant present sworn evidence to the court. As the plaintiff, you will be working with your lawyer to gather and present important documents and evidence that substantiate your personal injury claim. The types of evidence that can be submitted in court include:
• Medical records and bills
• Insurance claims
• Police Reports
• Document showing wages lost or time off work due to injury
The defendant (your insurance company, in this case) will also be presenting their own facts and evidence.
During deposition, both parties can also file motions for the court to dismiss, delay, or agree to settle your case before going to trial.
Reaching A Settlement
Most complaints that arise from personal injury claims are resolved through settlements. Only 4-5% actually progress into the trial phase.
In this case, a settlement involves a compensation package arranged by your insurance company. Both you (the plaintiff) and your insurer (the defendant) should agree that the compensation package on offer is reasonable. Your compensation should cover the medical expenses you’ve incurred within the duration of your injury.
If the parties can’t come to an agreement during the settlement phase, the lawsuit will move to trial.
Going To Trial
In a trial, a judge or jury will decide the final outcome of your case. Before reaching their decision, they will hear arguments from both parties. Your lawyer will be responsible for stating why your insurer is liable for breaching their obligation to compensate you for your injuries. In turn, the lawyer from the opposing side will then present arguments defending your insurance company’s actions regarding your claim.
Once the judge or jury have heard closing statements from both lawyers, they will then decide on the verdict. If they decide in favor of your insurance company, your case will be dismissed and you will not receive any compensation for your personal injury claim. If the verdict is in your favour however, the judge will state a dollar amount for the compensation you should receive from your insurance company..