Evaluating Your Claim
To determine whether you have a claim, your lawyer will consider whether another person's conduct wrongfully caused you any loss. There are three kinds of wrongful conduct: 1. Negligence 2. Intentional Misconduct 3. Strict Liability Negligence is the most common basis of recovery from an accident. The law holds individuals responsible for their own carelessness. For example, drivers who neglect to stop for stop signs or doctors who fail to follow established medical procedures are guilty of being negligent. Intentional misconduct may result if someone has deliberately hurt you or your property. For example, if someone has deliberately hit you without your permission or against your will. Individuals and companies may be responsible for damages on the basis of strict liability if they have engaged in dangerous activity such as conducting blasting operations or keeping wild animals or pets or if they have manufactured a defective, dangerous product.
What is Your Injury Worth?
Your lawyer can help put a dollar value on your injury. You are entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages and the cost of repairing your property. You are also entitled to compensation for any pain, disfigurement, physical handicap, embarrassment, loss of enjoyment of life, mental distress, emotional pain and other psychological injuries.
Finding Sources of Compensation
The time, effort and expense of a lawsuit are not ordinarily worthwhile if the person responsible for your injury does not have sufficient assets to pay for your damages. Your lawyer can help you determine what assets or insurance are available to compensate you.
Preliminary Interview and Investigation
Your lawyer will carefully interview you to learn the facts of the accident, who is responsible, the extent of your injuries and the amount of your loss. After the initial interview, your lawyer will obtain medical records, interview witnesses, obtain police reports and other information to help prove your claim.
Filing a Lawsuit
Your lawyer may be able to settle your claim and obtain compensation for you without a lawsuit. Your claim may also be settled after a lawsuit is filed, or even after a trial. If a lawsuit is necessary, your lawyer will prepare the necessary documents to file your claim with the court and gather evidence as needed to prove your claim at trial. The process of gathering evidence is known as discovery. It ordinarily includes the exchange or relevant documents, the answering of written questions known as interrogatories and orally questioning witnesses under oath before trial in depositions. This process may take several months to complete depending on the complexity of your claim. If not settled, your case will go to trial after the pretrial discovery. Most cases that go to trial are decided by juries. However, your case may be decided by a judge if it is required by statute or agreed to by the parties in a lawsuit.
Preserving the Evidence
It is very helpful to photograph or videotape the evidence of the nature and extent of your injures and the damage to your property. Photos should be taken of your bruises, stitches, or other visible signs of injury. In the case of an auto accident, photo's should be taken of the vehicle before and after any repairs have been completed. After a fire in your home, take pictures of the damage. You can also help establish the date of the photos by keeping notes and records and having someone witness the taking of the photos. Preservation of the evidence is essential to the successful resolution of your claim. If the evidence is lost or destroyed, it will be a bit difficult to prove your case at trial. Therefore, the evidence should be kept in a safe and secure place where it cannot be damages.
Under the law, others may be responsible for your injuries. In the event of such an injury, consult a lawyer as soon as possible. It is important to act quickly to preserve your rights to compensation from those who caused your injuries. Any inquires that you receive should be referred to your lawyer. Your lawyer will estimate the value of your claim and help you collect fair compensation for injuries and damage to your property.