If you or your loved one has been hurt or injured at the fault of someone else, you may be wondering about what legal action you’re entitled to. In this kind of event, you can take action by filing a personal injury lawsuit. Whether you’ve been in an auto accident, slip and fall accident, or were injured by a defective product, you’re entitled to compensation to cover your medical bills, lost wages, and more.
In this article, we’ll walk you through how to file a personal injury claim and lawsuit. Additionally, we’ll go over what your lawsuit timeline might look like, as well as address potential costs you could incur.
Personal Injury Claims vs. Lawsuits
Personal injury claims occur between you and the defendant’s insurance company. Typically, an individual or their personal injury attorney negotiates with an insurance company’s claims adjuster to reach a fair and satisfactory settlement payment.
If, for some reason, a settlement can’t be reached, either because the insurance company denies the claim or doesn’t agree with the severity of the injury, the next step is filing a personal injury lawsuit.
How to File a Personal Injury Claim / Lawsuit
Note that, while every personal injury lawsuit will vary based on the court you choose and the state you reside in, all personal injury lawsuits are filed the same way.
1. You’ll begin your personal injury lawsuit by filing an official complaint with your court of choice and serving those papers on the defendant. Along with the complaint, you’ll be asked to pay a filing fee, which can range anywhere from $100 – $400.
- Some courts also require you to file what’s called a summons, a document that identifies each respective party and lets the defendant know they’re being sued.
2. After filing your complaint and summons, you’ll need to complete the service of process. This is the legal term for officially serving the defendant with the court summons and complaint.
3. Service of process is completed after the defendant receives a copy of both documents – a process which should last no more than 30 days. However, if you are having a difficult time serving the defendant, the court will likely grant an extension.
4. The last step in how to file a personal injury claim / lawsuit is waiting on the defendant to respond to the claim. They can respond in two ways. They can “answer” your complaint by admitting or denying each allegation, or they may file a motion with the court to dismiss your claim entirely. If the court grants this dismissal, your complaint (or a portion of it) can be thrown out.
Once this process is completed, you’ll meet with your personal injury lawyer and start court proceedings, which may include mediation, negotiation, or a jury trial depending on your specific case.
A Note on Certificates of Merit
In personal injury cases where the prosecution alleges professional malpractice (such as in the case of negligent medical professionals), you may be asked to file another document. Depending on your state, they may be called Certificates of Merit, Affidavits of Merit, or Orders of Proof.
Be Aware of the Statute of Limitations
Lastly, when you prepare to file your personal injury lawsuit, be aware of the statute of limitations in your state. These are the laws that define the amount of time that can pass before a lawsuit must be filed with the court. In most states, the statute of limitations begins the moment you are injured or the moment you discover your injury. If you do not file your lawsuit before time runs out, you will be unable to bring your case to court.
If you’ve been wrongly injured and seek compensation, we’re here to help. At Porcaro Law Group in Florida, we will ensure you’re putting your best foot forward to get the settlement you deserve. A car accident or any other type of serious accident can be a frightening experience.
Most people do not know how much, if any compensation they are entitled to after they have been in an accident. With our personal injury attorneys by your side, you will feel confident knowing that your rights are protected and the responsible parties are held liable for their actions. You will also feel comfortable knowing our exact cost and fee schedule upfront. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation!