How To File a Personal Injury Claim

A personal injury lawyer reviewing a case with their client who is in a wheelchair while wearing a neck brace and a sling.

A personal injury claim is how you recover the injury compensation you need when someone else’s actions lead to harm and financial loss. Allowing an experienced personal injury lawyer to file a claim for you is the best way to ensure all damage is properly accounted for and you recover the full compensation value you deserve.  

Introduction to Personal Injury Claims

Everyone knows that after a car accident, you can try to file a personal injury claim and recover compensation through a driver’s insurance policy. However, many other types of accidents are often covered through insurance. 

Some of the types of injuries a lawyer might be able to help you recover compensation for include situations that involve: 

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Slip-and-fall accidents
  • Defective products
  • Dangerous drugs
  • Medical malpractice
  • Work injuries
  • Dog bites
  • Sexual assault
  • Nursing home abuse
  • Wrongful death

Anytime you’re left with medical expenses, lost wages, or other serious consequences for your health and finances, it’s worth consulting a personal injury lawyer to learn about whether your case qualifies for compensation. 

Understanding Personal Injury Law

When someone commits a crime, they face criminal charges, go to court, and receive a sentence. The criminal justice system exists to enforce the laws and hold people accountable for breaking them. Unfortunately, criminal courts don’t do much to help the victims of crime

When someone’s actions cause injury to another, civil law is the court system that allows victims to pursue justice. In most personal injury cases, the first step is attempting to recover compensation through insurance. However, if an insurance company won’t settle or policy limits can’t sufficiently compensate the injured individual, you can file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. 

A personal injury case can lead to both civil and criminal court proceedings. For example, sexual assault and drunk driving are two types of incidents that involve breaking the law. In these cases, the responsible person can be held responsible in both civil and criminal courts. 

Initial Steps After an Injury

How you respond immediately after an injury can significantly impact your ability to recover personal injury compensation. Initial steps you should always take in the aftermath of an injury include: 

  • Reporting the accident
  • Documenting the scene of the accident
  • Documenting your injuries
  • Obtaining witness contact information
  • Seeing a doctor
  • Following all medical advice
  • Calling a personal injury lawyer

Police reports, medical documents, and evidence all help strengthen your claim. Following these steps helps protect you from liability and ensures your lawyer has the evidence they need to build a successful case. 

Determining Liability

Liability is a foundational concept in personal injury law. Before obtaining compensation for an injury, you need to determine liability. A successful personal injury case requires proving that the other person’s actions amounted to negligence. This is a legal concept that a lawyer demonstrates by showing: 

  • The other person or company owed a duty of care 
  • They violated that duty
  • You were harmed as a direct result
  • You can provide proof of the harm

Personal injury law is founded on the concept that all individuals owe a duty of care to others. For example, drivers must exercise vigilance and obey traffic laws. How a lawyer proves negligence depends on the type of personal injury case and the circumstances that led to your injuries. 

Role of Insurance Companies

Since most personal injury compensation comes through an insurance claim, dealing with insurance companies is an unavoidable part of the claims process. Unfortunately, insurance companies work hard to reduce payouts. Often, these companies use tactics designed to trick unsuspecting individuals into making statements that can be interpreted as admissions of fault. 

Anything you say can be used against you by an insurance agent. Unfortunately, once you make a statement to an insurance company, you can’t take it back. Personal injury lawyers know about insurance tactics and protect their clients from them. 

When you hire a lawyer to work on your personal injury claim, they’ll handle all the paperwork and communicate on your behalf. This helps ensure you’re protected from insurance tactics and that all documentation is submitted correctly and on time. 

Filing the Claim

When you first hire a personal injury lawyer, they’ll begin a full investigation into your case. At this stage, your lawyer has two goals — to prove negligence and establish case value. 

To prove negligence, a lawyer will investigate the accident and collect as much evidence as possible to show how the other person’s negligence led to your injuries. They’ll also collect evidence of medical bills, lost wages, and any other costs related to your accident. A lawyer uses this evidence to identify your case value or how much money you should recover from the insurance company. 

Finally, a lawyer will submit a claim to the insurance company. If it’s accepted, they’ll begin negotiating your settlement. 

Negotiating a Settlement

Negotiating a settlement is the process of identifying how much an insurance company will pay for your claim. You need a skilled personal injury attorney to negotiate on your behalf to recover a fair settlement. 

Insurance companies have teams of skilled corporate lawyers working to keep claim payouts small. The negotiation process can take time, but an experienced personal injury lawyer won’t agree to a settlement until the offer is fair, given your injury costs. 

Litigation Process

The personal injury legal process often ends at the negotiation stage. However, in some cases, negotiation doesn’t have a successful ending. Sometimes, an insurance company tries to deny responsibility or won’t offer a sufficient settlement. Your final option is to file a lawsuit and take the case to court for a verdict. 

If your case goes to court, your personal injury lawyer represents you and keeps you updated on how the case is proceeding. Lawsuits often make a case take longer, but skilled trial attorneys usually recover more compensation than you would have received through negotiation alone. 

Compensation in Personal Injury Claims

Personal injury damages are composed of costs and losses in a few different categories. Economic damages compensate for the injury costs that have a dollar value. Examples of these include: 

  • Medical bills
  • Therapy costs
  • Surgery costs 
  • Medical device costs
  • Attendant care costs
  • Lost wages and benefits
  • Funeral and burial costs

If your injuries are permanent, you can also recover compensation for future medical costs and future wages you would have earned if the accident had never occurred. 

You can also recover non-economic damages for serious injuries. This provides you with compensation for the mental and emotional impact of the injuries. Examples of these include: 

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional anguish
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Embarrassment and humiliation
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Loss of companionship

In some personal injury cases, you may also recover punitive damages through a court order. These are awarded in addition to compensatory damages in cases involving extreme negligence or intentional harm. 

How the Personal Injury Lawyers at Bachus & Schanker Can Help You

A Lady Justice statue next to a gavel and two books on a personal injury attorney's desk.

The experienced personal injury lawyers at Bachus & Schanker have a reputation for being leaders in Colorado personal injury law. Our award-winning trial attorneys have recovered over $1 billion in settlements and verdicts for the injured clients we represent. 

Our Elite Litigation Group places a special emphasis on catastrophic injury and wrongful death. We understand the devastating impact these types of accidents have on victims and their loved ones. Our team prioritizes compassionate support for victims at every stage of the legal process. 

Sources:

42 USC § 247d-6d(e)(8).

Negligence. (2023).32 CFR § 45.9.

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