Whether it’s a car accident, slip and fall or construction accident, if you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligent or reckless actions, you may be eligible to file a personal injury claim to recover compensation for those injuries. These personal injury claims are typically negotiated and paid through an insurance company. But if negotiations fail, many injured victims want to know when a claim becomes a lawsuit.
Some injured victims may begin the claims process on their own. But it can be overwhelming to try to figure out how to pay for medical expenses and make-up for lost income – all while trying to heal and recover. After an accident or illness, a personal injury lawyer can guide you through the legal process of seeking monetary compensation for your losses due to the injuries.
The Claims Process
If you’re injured in a car accident in a no-fault state like New Jersey or New York, the claims process starts with your own insurance company under your personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. If PIP coverage isn’t enough to cover the cost of your injuries, under some circumstances, you may be able to file a claim against the at-fault driver in the accident. In other circumstances like a slip and fall injury at a retail store, you may be filing a claim against the business or property owner’s liability insurance.
Reaching Maximum Medical Improvement
Maximum medical improvement is the point at which you have fully recovered from your injuries. Some injured victims may recover entirely and be able to go back to their lives. However, in the cases of serious injury, MMI may be the point at which continued medical treatment is unlikely to improve your condition. This is not to say that you may not need continued medical care to manage the limitations presented by your injury or additional services to have the best quality of life possible.
In most cases, it’s very important to wait until you’ve reached maximum medical improvement before negotiating or accepting a settlement. By waiting until you’ve reached MMI, you can be assured that your settlement will cover all of your medical needs and expected losses.
Settlement Demand Amounts
Once you have reached MMI and a full accounting of your losses, your personal injury lawyer will help to determine a settlement demand amount. In other words, how much money are you seeking from the insurance company to cover your losses? An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to outline your economic losses as well as non-economic losses for intangible damages like pain and suffering.
Reaching a Settlement
After a settlement demand is made, both parties typically engage in rounds of negotiations. Oftentimes, the negotiation process will lead to an outcome both parties can agree upon and a settlement is reached. If a settlement can’t be reached through negotiation, your personal injury lawyer may recommend filing a lawsuit.
When a Claim Becomes a Lawsuit
Your personal injury lawyer may recommend that a lawsuit is the best course of action if negotiations aren’t going well or are stalled. Another reason to file a lawsuit has to do with the statute of limitations, the timeline you have to file a lawsuit. In New Jersey the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is two years. In New York, it’s three years.
If the claims process has stretched out and you are approaching that mark, your personal injury attorney may recommend filing a lawsuit to protect your rights and best interests. Settlement agreements are still possible after filing a lawsuit. In fact, very few lawsuits actually go to a trial before a judge or jury.
Choose an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
A personal injury lawyer’s goal is to make sure that their client receives fair and ample compensation for all of their losses related to an accident caused by someone else’s negligence. Experienced personal injury lawyers will have the knowledge and skills to help you to understand what legal action is the best path for you.
At Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, we believe in exceptional client care, empathy, and results. With our long track record of success, you can count on us to take the best strategy and work tirelessly for your quality of life. Our attorneys have decades of experience representing victims in personal injury claims. We’ve helped people just like you move forward after sustaining an injury that was caused by another’s negligence. Contact us today for a free consultation.