Working with a personal injury lawyer means dealing with a great deal of legal jargon. There are, however, some key personal injury law concepts you need to know to advance your claim. Let's check out 5 that are critical to almost every case.
For a defendant to pay out compensation on a claim, they have to be found liable. Liability is made up of three components. First, there is a duty of care, a legal responsibility to prevent another from coming to harm. Second, the defendant should be either the actual or most proximate cause of the injuries the claimant suffered. Third, there must be provable damages of a sufficient amount and type to justify a claim.
Statute of Limitations
Every state has a limit on how long a potential claimant may wait before they file a claim. In most states, this is between two and three years. There may also be special exceptions for cases involving government agencies, and these typically involve shorter periods.
Some states also have rules that don't start the clock until a person learns they have been injured. There may also be provisions that prevent the clock from starting for injured minors until they've reached the age of majority.
Once your personal injury lawyer has assembled the whole case they intend to present, they will send a demand letter. This usually goes to the defendant's insurance company, but it may go directly to the defendant if they're self-insuring. It outlines what your injuries are and what you consider just compensation.
When there are disputes over the facts of a case, the court will order what's known as the discovery process. Both sides have to turn over any evidence they have regarding what happened. For example, a person involved in a slip-and-fall incident at a grocery would be able to obtain the store's video surveillance footage during the discovery process. Other discoverable materials include maintenance logs, cellphone records, texts, emails, and memos.
If a claim ends in either a settlement or a court judgment, an amount of compensation, called an award, will be given to you. Notably, once the award has been rendered, that's the end of the matter and you cannot ever seek more money. For this reason, it's common for a personal injury lawyer to pump the brakes a bit on a case early on to ensure that all the information about a client's injuries is known.