You have been involved in an accident or you stepped into the open manhole or slipped in the supermarket and the resultant injury was serious enough to have medical treatment.
After getting over the initial shock and recovering your equilibrium, you begin to wonder if you have grounds to sue for Personal Injury. You definitely do and there are a few things to take care of as soon after the accident as possible.
If it was a motor accident, photos of the scene, the number plates of both cars, the license disks of both cars and the personal and insurance details of the other driver must all be collected immediately. If you are in no state to start playing detective immediately, ask whoever is with you or a trustworthy-looking bystander to do this for you. If you have a cell phone, the pictures taken on that will do very well.
Write down every detail that occurred from the time of the accident – including the accident itself. Also which hospital you went to, the name of the attending doctor, the treatments and medications you received.
Try and find witnesses to the accident, get their details and ask them if they are willing to testify on your behalf. Be sure to tell the other party involved, that you will be filing claim for property damage and medical bills. Do keep in mind, that there is a statute of limitations for Personal Injury suits, so don’t wait too long before filing. Also, it would be best to do it as soon as possible so that the opposing party cannot accuse you of waiting too long before filing.
It is important to ascertain whether the other party actually has insurance coverage. If it a supermarket or shop or sidewalk where you slipped and fell – do they have liability coverage? It may be all very well filing suits, having the court case, the court finds in your favor but the other party doesn’t have coverage or the funds to pay you.
If you are badly injured however and it is clear to anyone looking at you, file your suit and let the opposing party sort out their finances. Discuss the merits of your case with a Personal Injury Attorney. He will be happy to give you a free consultation and advice on how best to proceed. It will certainly help to have a professional in your corner, so hiring him would be the next logical step.
Your attorney will then file a personal injury complaint with the court. Your attorney has a month in which to find the defendant and serve the papers on him. He has to receive the papers personally, so that he cannot claim later that he didn’t know about it.
The defendant then has a month or more to get legal counsel before the court date comes up. Then both sides have to present their documents and witnesses in the case. This is the ‘discovery’ phase.
Both sides will then have the opportunity to take depositions of the opposing side’s witnesses and prepare their cases for the trial.
The pretrial appearances, the postponements or continuances can go on for months or even years. It is a very long, very frustrating process and if you can settle the matter outside of court, it will be beneficial to all concerned.
In fact, if the accident is clear-cut and the defendant has not denied his involvement, settlement can be reached before the suit is even filed.