The Stages of a Personal Injury Case
When you have been hurt in a car accident or any other type of incident caused by the actions or negligence of another, you may be entitled to seek compensation for your injuries. Such compensation is usually intended to cover your medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and other measurable losses, but may also include non-economic damages such as pain and suffering or considerations for scarring or disfigurement. Collecting any kind of compensation can be challenging, however, and it is important to understand the steps that may be involved.
Filing a Claim
In most cases, your first step after an accident is to file a claim with the insurance company of the party responsible for the accident. The claims process typically includes the exchange of pertinent information between the parties, as well as any reports filed with the police or other law enforcement agencies. While the case is in the claims stage, you will likely need to offer some proof to the insurance company to show that their insured was at fault. Depending on the circumstances, the insurance company may offer you a settlement to offset your losses. If you accept the settlement, you waive your right to future legal action, so you should never accept a proposal without speaking with your attorney.
Sometimes, however, the negotiation process breaks down. This could happen if the insurance company disputes your version of what happened or does not agree with the extent of your injuries or the amount you are demanding. If and when this happens, your next logical step is to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Preparing for Your Lawsuit
While you have the right to file a lawsuit from the very beginning, filing is usually an injured victim’s last resort. Taking your matter into courtroom litigation can be time-consuming and mentally exhausting and should not be taken lightly. As your case gets underway, you and the other parties will again be required to exchange pertinent information and documents—this time under the supervision of the court.
Along the way, representatives for the other party may make settlement offers, especially if the facts begin to look more favorable for you. You are free to accept a settlement and withdraw your lawsuit at any time, and your attorney can help you decide if doing so is the right decision.
Burden of Proof
If your case eventually goes to trial, the burden of proof begins with you as the plaintiff. You will need to convince the judge or jury that your version of what happened is the truth. The standard used in civil court is “by a preponderance of the evidence,” which basically means that what you are claiming is more likely than not to be true. There are times when the burden of proof may shift to the defendant, but, for the most part, it will be up to you and your attorney to prove your case.
Call for Guidance
Suffering an injury due to another party’s negligence can be frightening and overwhelming. If you have been injured in any type of accident, contact an experienced San Jose personal injury attorney to discuss your options. Call 408-286-2300 for a free consultation at Janoff Law today. You can rely on the security of our no recovery, no fee guarantee. You owe us nothing for your personal injury case until we obtain a positive outcome.