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How To Handle A Personal Injury Claim

You are injured and someone else is at fault. What do you do? What steps do you need to take? If you want to file a claim against someone for your injury, you may need to file a civil complaint or lawsuit against the person(s) responsible, if the insurance company will not voluntarily pay you out of court. Filing a lawsuit is not fun — especially when dealing with the stress of being injured. Let’s clear up some confusion with the answers to some often asked questions.

What is a personal injury case?   

A personal injury case is a legal claim in which one person (the plaintiff) suffers from an accident or injury due to the fault of another party (the defendant). Personal injury cases require knowledge of the facts and the law, and range from dog bites to wrongful death.

Do I have a case?   

To know if you have a case or not, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. 1)Have I suffered an injury?
  2. 2) Was the injury caused by someone else?

Each personal injury case is different. The different facts in each case make applying the law challenging. Also, in North Carolina, proving that the accident is entirely someone else’s fault can be challenging because in North Carolina, if you are even 1% at fault, then you can recover nothing under the doctrine known as “contributory negligence.” North Carolina is one of only a handful of states that has this law but it can make proving your case difficult, especially if you do not have an experienced attorney helping you with the case.

Photo credit: sandiegopersonalinjuryattorney via Visualhunt / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: sandiegopersonalinjuryattorney via Visualhunt / CC BY-SA

Do I need to file a claim? Do I need to hire a lawyer?   

You should file a claim for your injuries, especially if you were seriously hurt. It is best to get the advice of an experienced attorney anytime you are injured but especially if you receive medical treatment or are out of work because of the injuries. Insurance companies have experienced attorneys working for them that know the law, so you need to make sure that you discuss your case with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to avoid any pitfalls or traps of which you may be unaware.

Will my case go to court?

Not necessarily. Your case will only go to court if it cannot be settled out of court and a lawsuit is filed. Once a lawsuit is filed, it is imperative that you meet the deadlines imposed by the court and failure to do so could cause your case to be thrown out of court. Before filing a lawsuit in your case, be sure you know what you’re in for. Once the lawsuit is filed, you may not be able to un-file the lawsuit or delay the case without losing your rights, so be sure that you have the help of an experienced attorney throughout this process. Also, you as the injured party have the burden of proving your case in court and you may only get one shot at this, so it is important that you know how to proceed. An experienced attorney will be able to assist you and is vital to a successful outcome.

Whatever you do, don’t wait. 

If you have been injured and want to file a claim, talk to an experienced attorney as soon as possible, even if you don’t retain him or her. The longer you wait, the more complicated your case will be and the more evidence such as skid marks, witness testimonies, etc. may be lost. Additionally, the statute of limitations creates a time frame in which you are able to file a lawsuit. North Carolina has a statute of limitations of 3 years from the date you are injured. It may seem like you have plenty of time, but you will want to make sure to document all evidence possible before the lawsuit is filed to be sure that you present the best case possible in court.

So what’s the first step? 

Get information about your case, and document your case. Attorneys can help. Act as soon as you can so that witnesses can be contacted and their testimonies can be documented, so that the evidence is fresh and preserved. Be prepared and get the compensation you deserve.

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