Car accidents have been on the rise recently across the globe. With stringent measures being put in place to help curb these accidents, more people are still losing their lives on the roads. Some of those lucky enough to have a second chance in life are left with life-threatening injuries that require intensive medical care. However, not all car accident victims have the financial ability to offset the huge medical bills incurred during treatment.
As a result, they end up being dependent on friends, family, and charity not only for their treatment costs, but also for their daily needs such as food, clothing and much more. Car accident victims are eligible to receive compensation in case of car accidents that leave them injured, from soft-tissue injuries to full paralysis or unable to deliver on their duties as before? Generally speaking, you stand high chances of being compensated when the accident was due to someone else’s negligence.
Car Accident Lawsuit vs. Car Accident Claim
In your quest for compensation, you will either have to file a car accident lawsuit or a car accident claim. Car accident victims normally get confused on the difference between the two methods of seeking justice, given that both seek a similar ending: compensation. However, there is a considerable between the two, especially based on how they are applied.
A car insurance claim is simply a notification made to the negligent party’s insurance company notifying them of the accident in which you seek to receive compensation for the the injuries sustained as provided by the insurance policy. You or your attorney will negotiate with the insurance company to try to resolve the claim amicably through a reasonable settlement. The court system is not involved.
On the other hand, a car accident lawsuit refers to a legal and formal action taken against the party at fault in a court of law. The injured person filing the car accident lawsuit (the plaintiff) invokes the help of a judge or jury to recover damages in monetary terms for their harms and losses. The Plaintiff and Defendant, usually represented by lawyers, engage in the formal process of exchanging information and holding oral depositions before arguing in front of a judge or jury.
If you are thinking of filing a lawsuit on your own, the following is a rudimentary and non-exhaustive guide:
Step 1: Contact the Police
Immediately after you get involved in a car accident, the first thing you should is contacting the police. It is recommended that you have the police take details of the accident to help them file a formal police report. This could be used as evidence later during trial before the jury. It can also be ideal given that you could be traumatized and forget the logistics of the accident, and the police report will help refresh your memery. Moreover, while the party at fault can become difficult in some scenarios, the presence of police can help cushion you from danger, and will even make arrangements for ambulances to help the injured.
Step 2: Draft and File a Lawsuit/Complaint
After contacting the police, you should assess whether you stand ground for monetary compensation. If you are unable to evaluate your options by yourself, getting in touch with an experienced car accident lawyer. A lawyer will help you file a complaint (petition) in a court of law. The petition serves to explain what happened during the accident, the damages incurred, and the legal basis through which you are filing a lawsuit. This marks the beginning of the actual lawsuit.
Step 3: Serve the Petition on the Defendant
You cannot start working on a lawsuit without the party at-fault knowing about the lawsuit, and the only way to notify them is by providing them with a formal notice of the expected legal proceedings against them. This allows them to be aware of the charges, and make necessary arrangements to defend themselves by getting a lawyer from their insurance company. Based on your area of jurisdiction, you should have a reasonable amount of time to serve them with a copy of your petition. However, the deadline can be extended if the defendant is not available or is difficult to get in touch with.
Step 4: The Defendant Files an Answer
This is basically an acknowledgement that the defendant received your petition. In the answer, they will deny or admit the allegations made against them, and will give you an opportunity to build up your legal strategy against their defense.
Step 5: Discovery
Discovery is the foundation of the litigation process. In this phase, the plaintiff and the defendant exchange relevant information such as photos, property damage estimates, and written answers to questions. Contrary to popular belief, the discovery process does not necessary entail a settlement. On the contrary, this is where both parties enlighten themselves more about the accident and what the opposite party knows. Written questions will be asked and answered, documents exchanged, and oral statements given under oath, also known as depositions.
Step 6: Trial
When done with the discovery process, the final phase in any civil litigation is a trial. This is where the might of both legal teams is put to test. Witnesses will be cross examined and evidence presented before a jury. What’s more, there will be opening and closing statements by both sides to give the judge or jury the big picture of the lawsuit. After carefully evaluating the arguments and evidence provided, the jury will deliberate and make a final verdict which will be in the favor of either the defendant or the plaintiff. If the ruling is in your favor as the plaintiff, the defendant will have no other choice but to pay you the amount of damages decided by the jury.
Your Car Accident Lawyer Should Explain You These Steps
There are a number of legal steps that could be daunting for you, especially when you are more concerned on regaining your health than attending meetings and answering pertaining to your case. A good car accident lawyer will take it upon themselves to fully represent you, while still explaining the components of each option available. Our legal team at Lone Star Injury Attorneys is always ready to help you seek justice in the most convenient manner for you. Call us today for a free consultation.