If you’ve suffered a personal injury, you can make a legal claim against the party or individual at fault. Even if you are partially responsible for your own injuries, you may still be awarded compensation. In order to do so you must prepare a solid claim, including substantial evidence proving the majority of liability or fault lies with the other party.
How to Make a Personal Injury Claim
A personal injury claim may be made if you have been injured or your property damaged after an accident for which someone else was to blame. Personal injury claims are usually made initially with the insurer who provides cover for the alleged at-fault party.
For example, after a car accident which is blamed on another driver’s negligent driving, you would initially file your claim with the other driver’s car insurance provider. If the accident was a slip and fall accident in a department store, you would file your claim with the store’s premises liability insurance provider.
The success of any personal injury claim depends on proof that the injuries and damage to property were caused by negligence. Unless negligence can be clearly shown, it would unlikely to obtain compensation.
The first step in any claim is to inform the at-fault party and the relevant insurer that you intend filing for damages, setting out why you are doing so, giving details of the accident and how it has caused you harm.
You should assemble as much convincing evidence as possible, such as doctor’s report on your injuries, evidence of medical treatment, photos of the accident scene, eye witness statements confirming your version of events, evidence of damage to property and how much it would cost to replace it or repair it.
You may find that your claim could be more successful if you obtained help from a personal injury attorney. Most PI attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, so may provide an initial free consultation to discuss the viability of your claim and defer legal fees until a claim is won on your behalf. Most attorneys can attempt to negotiate an out of court settlement first before resorting to court action.
Requirements for Filing a Personal Injury Claim
There are many types of personal injury claims, including everything from car accidents and slip and fall claims to injuries resulting from improper medical treatment provided by a doctor. The type of injuries and the circumstances under which they occur affect the evidence necessary for successfully filing a lawsuit. Following are some of the evidence categories required:
- Formal statements describing the incident, accident, or other circumstances that lead to your injuries
- Policy reports, if applicable, of the incident, including statements from witnesses
- Eye-witness statements collected by you or your attorney
- Photos of the accident scene or site at which your injuries occurred
- Photos of the physical trauma you suffered or the damage to personal property
- Medical records, documenting treatments needed as a result of your injuries
- Insurance documentation related to any claims filed with your own or the insurance providers of the defendant
There are nearly as many types of personal injury claims as there are forms of injuries and no two claims are exactly alike. Evidence necessary in each claim may vary, but you need to build a thorough case file and should do so as soon as possible after your injuries.
The Claimant’s Role in a Personal Injury Claim
If you are the injured party in a personal injury claim, then you are the claimant, or the person who files a claim or lawsuit for damages. It’s your job to prove your claim in order to receive any form of compensation. You must build a strong body of evidence, documenting that the defendant is responsible, or holds primary responsibility for your injuries.
As the claimant, you must also decide:
- whether to file a lawsuit,
- settle out of court,
- to even pursue your personal injury claim at all.
The first step in the process is to notify the defendant of your claim. The defendant’s insurance company may offer a settlement. You must then decide whether to:
- accept the settlement
- file a formal lawsuit and argue your claim in court.
The Defendant’s Role in a Personal Injury Claim
The defendant in a personal injury claim is the person or entity against whom the claim is filed and they must decide:
- whether to fight a claim
- make a settlement offer.
- hire their own legal counsel
- build a case in defense of their own interests.
- they were not at fault for your injuries
- that you’re mainly at fault for your own injuries and therefore not entitled to compensation for any injuries or damages you suffered.
They must additionally decide whether to argue their case in court, if you, the claimant, decide not to accept the settlement offer.
If the defendant decides to fight the claim, they will most likely:
In other words, they will try to counter all of your evidence with evidence and arguments of their own in an attempt to prove:
Getting Assistance with Your Personal Injury Claim
Personal injury laws are dictated by state statutes, which define the degree of fault you can hold and still receive compensation. State laws also determine what injuries you can claim and the amount and type of compensation that can be awarded.
For your claim to be successful, you must ensure that you meet local statutes for initiating and/or winning a lawsuit. A personal injury attorney is invaluable in this process and in collecting the necessary evidence for supporting your claim.