If you’ve been injured in an accident that was caused by the negligent acts of another, Florida state law gives you the right to seek compensation for the damages resulting from your injuries. Current and projected medical expenses, loss of income and employment, as well as pain, suffering, and mental anguish are just a few of the damages you can experience after being injured in an accident.
Unfortunately, obtaining this compensation isn’t easy. The at-fault parties and their insurance companies rarely accept full financial responsibility for injury-related accidents unless they have to. You’ll probably have to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party.
Most people are unfamiliar with the personal injury lawsuit process. While the details of every case are unique, and no one can tell you for sure exactly how much you’ll get, here are the basic stages common to all personal injury cases:
Initial Consultation with an Attorney
Most Lutz personal injury attorneys offer prospective clients a free initial consultation to discuss their case. This will allow you to get to know the attorney better. Once the attorney’s learned a little bit about your situation, they’ll be able to explain what your legal options are. They’ll also be able to answer all your legal questions. The meeting will give you both an indication of whether you’ll work effectively together. If the attorney feels you have a valid claim, they’ll offer to represent you, and if you agree, you’ll both sign a contract to seal the deal.
Investigating Your Claim
This is one of the most important stages of a personal injury case. For your claim to be successful, you’ll have to provide evidence that clearly shows:
- The at-fault was negligent in their actions (say, a driver ran a red light, or a business owner failed to remove a hazard from their property);
- You were injured as a result of their negligence; and
- You suffered damages as a result of these injuries.
One of the first things your attorney will do is begin investigating your case. This includes collecting accident and medical reports, speaking to eyewitnesses, and consulting with experts. The goal is to reconstruct the details of the accident to determine exactly why and how the accident occurred, and most importantly, who was responsible.
It’s very possible that more than one party shares liability for your injuries. For instance, if you were injured in an accident with a big truck that happened because the truck’s brakes were defective:
- The driver could be responsible for failing to inspect their vehicle.
- The company that owns the truck could be responsible for failing to properly maintain their vehicle.
- The brake manufacturers could be responsible for making and selling the defective part.
Determining Damages in a Lutz Personal Injury Case
Once your attorney has collected the evidence, you’ll need to support your personal injury case, the next step will be to determine the extent of your damages.
It’s important to assess the extent of your damages fully and accurately for many reasons. If your injuries will require ongoing medical treatment, it’s important to factor in these costs along with your current medical expenses. The same goes for income — you’ll want to be compensated not only for the work you’ve already missed but also for the income you’ll lose if you’re unable to return to work or have to take a lesser paying job. The last thing you want to do is short-change yourself.
In addition, your lawyer will help you assign an accurate dollar amount to your “general” damages. These are intangible, non-monetary losses, such as pain and suffering, that don’t have an exact dollar amount. Depending on the circumstances of your accident, this could make up a major portion of your claim.
Filing a Claim for Compensation
The next step in the process is filing a demand for compensation with the at-fault party’s insurance company. This demand will include all the details of your injuries and what compensation you expect from them. In some cases, the insurance company will agree to your demands and that will be the final step in the process. If they are unwilling to pay you the amount of compensation you’re asking for, your case will move to the next step — negotiation.
Negotiating a Settlement
Your attorney will be able to handle all negotiations with the insurance company. You have two choices: accept a lower offer or insist that the insurance company pay the full damages listed in your claim for compensation. Your attorney can advise you as to which strategy is best in your situation. If the insurance company refuses to meet your demands, you can take them to court.
Going to Court
Personal injury lawsuits rarely go to court. In most situations, insurance companies prefer to settle rather than take their chances in front of a jury. During a civil court trial, you’ll have an opportunity to argue your case in front of a judge or jury. They’ll make a final ruling as to how much compensation you’re entitled to for your injuries.
The big difference between a civil court case and a criminal court case is that you won’t have to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the other party is responsible for your injuries. The judge or jury will make their decision based on the preponderance of the evidence.
Appealing the Verdict
If either side is unhappy with the court’s decision, they can file an appeal.
Rivas Law Group is With You Through All Stages of Your Lutz Personal Injury Case
If you’ve been injured in an accident in Lutz that was the fault of another party, it’s important to take steps to protect your right to obtain full compensation for your injuries. Who you select to represent you could be the most important decision you’ll ever make.
Tania Rivas and Rivas Law Group have successfully represented clients injured in accidents in Lakeland, Lutz, Winter Haven, and other Central Florida communities. She is here to guide you through all stages of Florida’s often complicated personal injury claim process. Tania’s knowledge, skill, and dedication have earned millions of dollars in settlements for her clients.
Contact Rivas Law Group today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation with a leading Lutz personal injury attorney.