If you have been injured in an accident that was someone else’s fault, you may be looking for information about your rights and relevant laws. You’ve likely seen the advertisements promising compensation for victims of car accidents, medical malpractice, or slip and fall accidents, but these ads don’t really tell you what the law says or what you can expect if you call a personal injury lawyer.
Put together by Atlanta personal injury lawyers, here’s some advice to victims of personal injury accidents. This basic guide provides an overview of personal injury claims, your rights, and what you can expect.
The Basics of Personal Injury Law
A personal injury occurs when one person does harm to another, either by negligence or malice. Examples include:
- Accidents: A negligent party causes harm to someone else (or multiple people), such as in an auto accident, medical malpractice, slip and fall accident, or workplace injury.
- Intentional Acts: One person intentionally causes harm to another.
- Defective Products: A product manufacturer allows a dangerous product to reach consumer hands. Includes consumer goods, foods, medications, even car parts.s
When someone is injured in such situations, they have the right to file a lawsuit against the person responsible, called a personal injury claim. The laws surrounding personal injury claims vary somewhat from state-to-state. If you have been injured in Georgia, it is important to speak with an Atlanta personal injury lawyer about the rules and process for filing a personal injury claim.
The Personal Injury Claim Process
While every situation is somewhat different, the personal injury claim process usually follows some general steps, no matter what type of injury you have. These include:
- You are injured by the other person (the defendant): This could be another driver who struck you while texting, a surgeon who left a sponge in your body after surgery, or a property owner who knew about a broken step but didn’t fix it.
- You speak with a personal injury lawyer: The first real step in the personal injury process is speaking with a personal injury lawyer. Together, you and your lawyer will confirm that you have a case and decide on the best steps to take next.
- Settlement negotiations commence: Your lawyer will attempt to negotiate a settlement with the other party without filing the lawsuit. If an agreement is reached, then the lawsuit is dropped and a settlement amount is agreed on. If an agreement cannot be reached, then the case will go to trial.
- Your personal injury lawsuit is filed: If a settlement cannot be reached, your lawyer will file your lawsuit with the applicable court and a new process will begin. During the pre-trial period, your side and the defendants side will exchange information and evidence and then a trial date will be set by the court.
- Your case goes to trial: If your case does go to trial, your lawyer will help you prepare for the trial process. This process is often lengthy because there is a lot of information that each party must gather and then present to the court. Then, the judge and/or jury will be tasked with deciding if you have proven your case and should be awarded compensation.
You Won Your Case, Now What?
If you successfully reached a settlement or a jury has ruled in your favor, you may be wondering “what now?” After all, the hard part is over, right? Not necessarily.
If Your Case Settled
The other party has a period of time in which to complete settlement papers (usually 30 or 60 days). The Release is an important document that details the settlement terms. If the terms are acceptable, then both parties will sign it. Once the terms are accepted and signed, you must wait for the settlement check.
If Your Case Went to Trial
After your case is “won”, the defendant may have the opportunity to appeal the decision. This is a process that could take months to play out. Next, is the process of actually collecting your compensation.
In either case, generally your compensation will go to your lawyer who will deduct costs and legal fees, and then the remaining amount will be distributed to you and/or other designees based on the terms of the settlement.