Everyone knows that we live in a litigious society these days. Not a minute goes by that a legal case is not being filed in a courtroom somewhere in the United States. Personal injury cases are among the more common lawsuits being filed by one person against another, and the amount of money that can change hands after a successful injury case is won can be staggering.
However, understanding the complexities of the legal system can be tricky for the average person. Especially when it comes to deciding what type of case needs to be filed. There are many types of lawsuits, and each carries its own set of rules, laws, and regulations in regards to how it is brought to trial, or not.
Even when dealing with a personal injury matter specifically, there are numerous different types of cases and exceptional circumstances that can often leave the uninitiated wondering which way to turn.
In this article, we will help you gain a complete picture of what you should expect from the beginning of your filing all the way through to your court hearing, and even share some basic statistical data that will help paint a better picture of what type of results you can expect.
Every case is going to be different, and no one can predict the outcome of any case no matter how strong, or weak it may be. However, with a little foreknowledge of what you will be getting into, your chances of success will be significantly increased while your stress levels will be dramatically reduced.
So, let’s get started with some basics:
“Accidents happen.” This is something we are told from an early age. Often things happen that seem to be out of anyone’s control, but, in the case of many accidents, and especially negligence cases, someone is usually expected to be accountable in the real world.
The person or persons who have been injured are often left unable to work, or incapacitated in some way making it difficult or impossible to return to the normal life that they were accustomed to before the incident.
Sometimes a victim of an accident is no longer able to work the same job due to injuries, or the time spent in the hospital has crippled them financially leaving them with no other recourse but to demand some form of compensation from those who may be held responsible.
A personal injury case is considered a civil suit as opposed to a criminal case. This means that the person filing is required to seek a resolution through a court system that will legally determine fault in the defendant requiring them to pay for the damages being sought after.
Many times, these cases never see the light of day in a formal court setting as the two parties often come to an agreement outside of court known as a settlement, whereby the defendant agrees to pay for damages to avoid further litigation.
You will also need to be aware of what is known as the Statute of Limitations.
The statute of limitations sets a time limit on how long a plaintiff can wait before filing a lawsuit to be compensated. This time period usually starts at the time of the incident, or when the filer discovers that there is some grievance.
These time limits are generally set on a per state basis, so you will need to check the laws in your state to see where your situation fits in.
These laws vary from one state to another. To learn more about the laws in Arizona you can receive a free personal injury claim review here at Alcock & Associates by calling our Confidential Consultation Line at (602) 989-5000.
Becoming the victim of an accident, or falling prey to the negligence of another person can be devastating to your life, and the lives of your family. There is no reason why you should be expected to shoulder all of the responsibility alone, and possibly be left bankrupt with no assistance, or ability to get back on your feet.
In most personal injury cases, you’ll need to make sure that you have your medical expenses covered, as well as any financial loss you will incur due to a loss of work time.
The best way you can achieve this is by retaining the services of a qualified legal team with extensive experience in personal injury law, as well as a record of success in winning such cases.
Trying to traverse these tricky legal waters on your own is an ill-advised idea unless you have some background on the subject. There are just too many things to consider, and in most cases, more than one attorney is required to handle all of the intricacies involved even an average case with no exceptional circumstances.
Trying to put together and defend your case without any legal qualifications will more than likely cost you more in the long run, than if you retained the services of a professional who knows the ropes from the very start.
You should also consider that even if the person you are suing wants to settle out of court on the advice of their insurer that what may sound like a good idea that saves time and puts money in your pocket might not be the best for you over the long term.
Insurance companies are notorious for making offers that fall far too short of what you would receive through a court proceeding. Insurance companies are not in the business of paying claims and will utilize many forms of veiled deception to get you to settle for less than what your case is worth.
This is where quality representation will benefit you the most. A professional legal representative will be able to tell immediately if the settlement offer is worth your time, or if you should prepare to go to court to get what is rightfully yours.
As has been stated, personal injury cases and the laws that govern them are incredibly complicated matters, and it is vital to your well being that you elect counsel that is up to the task of fighting for you to ensure that you get everything you are entitled to.
What it all comes down to is, if you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, or intentional misconduct you deserve to be fully compensated for whatever financial loss you have incurred. This includes all medical bills, lost wages, damage to property, loss of future wage potential, and also a value for any pain and suffering you have endured due to the incident in question.
All research indicates that those filing claims that have retained the proper legal counsel are the ones who receive the larger settlements or decisions from the court proceedings than those who choose to go into battle alone.
Here are more reasons why it is a good idea for you to do the proper diligence to locate the best personal injury lawyer near you:
1. Experience – A well qualified personal injury attorney will likely have tried many cases very similar to yours and will know exactly what needs to be done and in what order to make sure that you receive the maximum benefit of their assistance.
Their understanding of the law will be invaluable, especially when it comes to dealing with less-than-scrupulous insurance companies whom you can bet will have their army of lawyers who will be trying to give you as little compensation as they can get away with.
2. Time Saver – The amount of paperwork, and administrative requirements of sifting through police and accident reports, medical records, and then having to speak with countless witnesses, opposing counsel, and others will be daunting.
In fact, for most, this tedious process will be far outside of their scope of experience and leave them susceptible to being taken advantage of simply through a lack of knowledge.
Don’t let a simple clerical misstep cost you thousands of dollars that are rightfully yours by trying to litigate your case alone when a professional team of experts could do all of this for you in a fraction of the time.
3. Objectivity is a Key Element – If you or a loved one has been severely injured, you are likely angry, frustrated, and not in the best mental state to handle the stresses brought on by a lawsuit.
Being able to remain rational through a tough situation involving trauma is not often something many people can do. This is why retaining a competent attorney who can remain objective will go further by getting you the results you want from your personal injury lawsuit.
4. Lawyer Speak – Even the very words being spoken in a courtroom, or litigation setting can be enough to leave the layman’s head spinning.
Legal nomenclature can be so complicated that it may even seem to the uninitiated that an entirely different language is being spoken, and in fact, it is.
You’ll need a good lawyer on your side to keep up with the double-speak, and tactics being used by the opposing lawyers to make sure you are not being taken advantages of or agreeing to something that you “think” you understand only to find out later that slick talk has misled you.
5. Higher Settlements – This one is the most important to the average plaintiff. It might not seem like it should be this way, but the fact is that people who hire their attorneys in cases of personal injury receive more money in the end than those who chose to go into the fray alone.
Even after deducting the legal fees, you will leave the experience with more money in your account than had you tried to win the case all alone. That’s important if you have encountered excessive medical bills and injuries that will affect your ability to create future income.
Once you begin to see the complexities and how involved a personal injury case can be, it won’t take you long to realize that the only real option you have is to be properly teamed up with an expert in the legal field.
Someone who knows the ropes who is on your side is an indispensable weapon against unethical behavior, and the possibility of receiving less than what you have coming to you.
When it comes to winning your injury case you don’t want to leave anything up to chance, or guesswork. Hire an expert who can get you everything you are owed. It is worth the price.
Aside from the statutes of limitations, which will be discussed later, there are specific criteria that you should know regarding when you should file your injury claim.
When you should hire a lawyer is an important question, and can have an impact on the results you attain once you do.
Let’s cover some fundamental questions you can ask yourself that will help you determine when the best time to contact a lawyer will be.
Were you seriously harmed from the incident, or did you only suffer minor, or insignificant injuries? It makes a difference if you have been severely wounded and cannot function in your standard capacity. Are you still able to file a claim on your own, or will you need physical assistance?
The importance will become clear when you determine the extent of your injuries, the amount of time and money you will lose from an inability to work.
Was your injury caused by someone else? If you were injured due to someone else’s negligence, or misconduct it is vital that you contact a lawyer as soon as possible. You will need guidance in determining the fault and collecting the evidence t strengthen your case.
Consulting with a qualified attorney will ensure that you don’t miss any crucial details, or documentation that might be a deciding factor in your case.
Have you already been contacted by an insurance agent of the person you feel is responsible for your injuries? Any insurance company worth its weight in salt will have its team of adjusters and claims associates whose sole purpose is to keep their claim amounts as small as possible.
If you are contacted by one of these representatives from an insurance company, asking you for your story, or any paperwork, or other forms of verification concerning the incident itself, you should immediately inform them that you are in contact with an attorney and that your legal counsel will contact them in due time.
They may even try to get you to admit to some details over the phone that could be used against you in court. Do not allow this to happen. Your best interests are not what they are interested in no matter what they might tell you.
They may even go so far as to make you an offer on the spot to settle the case, and you should say and do nothing other than telling them you will pass the information on to your attorney and end the conversation immediately while supplying them with no further useful information.
Also, do not be coerced into signing anything giving them the right to access your medical information. This release form usually allows them to look deeply into your medical history, and use previous, unassociated conditions to their advantage.
Just know that if you are being contacted by an insurance agent regarding your personal injury claim, then the company has already decided that you have a strong case and they are trying to lay the groundwork to protect themselves from a large payout. Do not fall for this tactic.
An expert personal injury lawyer working on your side will contact the company and put an immediate end to any further attempts to contact you directly.
If the insurance company is trying to offer you a low amount, or trying to avoid paying the claim entirely, this is another red flag that should send you running to the closest personal injury lawyer near you.
They will often attempt this to delay having to pay your claim, giving them more time to research your case looking for loopholes, or other ways to deny your claim.
Is the insurance company attempting to deny the culpability of the insured person responsible for your injuries? This is another trick they use to try and get you to end your lawsuit. Even when the evidence clearly shows that the person is at fault, their insurance company will attempt to dispute their liability in the case.
What they are trying to do is merely convince you that you have no case, or that your case is too weak to go to trial. This is the perfect opportunity to inform them that you have retained counsel who will determine for you.
Do not allow yourself to be misinformed by the sneaky tactics of insurance companies. They are in the business of keeping their money, not giving it away. They spend much money hiring the best representatives with legal backgrounds that they can to make sure that they pay out as little of their net worth as possible when it comes to paying off insurance claims.
One thing anyone considering filing a personal injury case should understand is that not just any lawyer is equipped to handle the intricacies of these often complex cases.
It is crucial to the success of your case to do your due diligence when choosing a team to represent you in personal injury matters.
Deciding on the right lawyer literally could mean the difference between winning and losing your case, as well as how much compensation you are likely to receive.
With almost two-dozen highly qualified, successful litigators on our staff, The Law Offices of Alcock & Associates P.C. have established their practice as one of Phoenix Arizona’s most successful law teams.
Alcock and Associates have successfully tried hundreds of cases of all types including accident, criminal defense, immigration, and DUI cases.
With the right team on your side, your chances of success are substantially increased, and the amount of stress and worry you will have to endure not knowing if you made the right choice can be alleviated in the beginning by doing the right amount of research into whom you decide to hire.
The outstanding reputation of Nicholas Alcock and his team is well established in the Phoenix area, and everything you need to know can be found on their website at https://www.alcocklaw.com/
Call today for a free consultation, and rest assured that your case will be represented by the very best attorneys the Phoenix area has to offer.
Now that you understand how complex a personal injury case can be its time to look at some statistical data to help better inform you of your chances of winning your case.
This information will also help you to understand how many cases are filed each year, what those cases involve, what type of compensation you can expect, as well as your chances of winning your case.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), approximately 31 million Americans are injured severely enough to require medical treatment annually.
2 million people are injured so badly that they require long-term in-hospital care, while almost 200,000 others are involved in accidents that result in death.
Here are a few statistics that break down the number of accidents occurring in 3 different sectors, which make up the majority of personal injury cases.
Traffic Accidents – Reports from the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration state that each year there are over five and a half million vehicular accidents in the U.S.
These accidents result in approximately 3 million injuries, as well as roughly 40,000 deaths.
Construction Injuries – Accidents and fatalities occurring on construction jobs account for another 300,000 injuries each year. Of these, at least 1000 result in the person being injured badly enough to cause death.
Medical Malpractice – One of the more popular causes behind many personal injury cases is the perceived failure of a medical facility or hospital to provide adequate care for patients which leads to further injury, or even death.
It is estimated that around 98,000 people die each year because of medical malpractice in some form, or another.
The reason that so many cases are brought to trial is the dispute over the liability of each case. No one wants to admit wrongdoing in any scenario, but someone is inevitable always responsible for an accident, or injury.
Therefore, it’s the responsibility of the injured party to seek out legal counsel to ensure that they are fairly compensated for their injury, suffering, and time or wages lost from missing work.
The Dept. of Justice reports that almost 17,000 tort cases are tried across the nation annually.
What is a Tort Case? Torts are legal claims that include any act of negligence, or intentional wrongdoing perpetrated on one party by another whether it is a single person, organization, or group.
This type of litigation accounts for more civil suits being brought up per year than any other kind of lawsuit.
Of these types of lawsuits, approximately 4% go to trial as the defendants often choose to settle these cases out of court for monetary, as well as reasons of reputation.
The Dept. of Justice goes on to report that some 52% of those cases tried involved motor vehicle accidents, while another 15% were a direct result of medical malpractice.
People being harmed by consumer products account for another 5% of all tort cases brought to trial.
This leaves 28% of the personal injury cases under the category of other.
The following are some examples of successfully tried cases by the plaintiffs:
As a side note, cases that are decided by judges are 5% more likely to be in favor of the plaintiff than if by jury trial.
Keep in mind, however, that one important factor that repeats over and over is the amount of damages being asked for in each case.
Here are the national averages for payouts for various personal injury claims:
So, how long will you have to wait to receive your compensation after winning your case?
It depends on which type of case you have filed for. Here are some of the average lengths of time spent in court for the primary cases we are discussing in this article.
The bottom line when it comes time to file for your personal injury claim will be how strong your case is from the outset, and more importantly, which legal team, or law representative you have fighting on your corner.
If you or someone you know has questions concerning the possible filing if a personal injury claim in the Phoenix Arizona area, please contact our Confidential Consultation Line at (602) 989-5000.
A qualified representative will be standing by to assist you.