What Should I Know Before Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

personal injury lawsuit

Written by Jeremy D. Earle, JD

April 11, 2021

Because we reside in the United States, we are fortunate to be able to seek restitution from the courts when others inflict injury on us. By suing for monetary damages instead of turning to violence or accepting our destiny, we may rectify our wrongdoings.

A unique aspect of our lives that is seldom understood for the significant and mainly positive impact it has on our collective feeling of safety and belonging.

Anyone may hold a big and powerful individual, company, institution, or government agency responsible for improper action that results in personal injuries and losses with the aid of an expert personal injury lawyer. Let’s take a closer look at the system to better understand it.

MONETARY DAMAGES ARE A BAD TOOL, BUT EFFECTIVE

Money is the most common form of compensation for any harm done to you, so it’s important to know what to expect when you sue for damages. It’s possible to get a court order ordering the person that injured you to do something particular, in addition to just suing for money damages.

It’s not uncommon to find that suing for damages entails converting what you went through into dollars and cents that the person who harmed you should pay you.

It’s not ideal, but it’s better than nothing. You can’t get rid of your pain with money. It is impossible to treat a disease or remove a handicap caused by someone else’s wrongdoing. The pain of losing a loved one in a deadly accident can never be replaced. Not even the most fundamental human need for retribution can be satisfied by it.

However, money damages serve a vital function in the long run. They contribute to the cost of treatment that helps people recover physically and emotionally. They provide the funds necessary to make home modifications to fulfil the needs of people with impairments.

They serve as a substitute for lost revenue. And as a result, they work to guarantee that the improper activity that caused your injuries is not repeated and does not injure anybody else.

INJURIES BY TYPE

In general, there are three types of damage. They’re all included below, with a brief description of each.

INJURY RESULTS

Compensatory damages are the most prevalent in a personal injury claim since they reimburse you for the harm you received.

Damages may be broken down into two main categories:

  • Damages for economic losses might be awarded in the event of a personal injury. Your medical care costs, lost earnings due to your injuries or disability, and any other out-of-pocket expenditures that you wouldn’t have had if they weren’t caused by the accident or event in which they occurred are examples of these expenses.
  • Damages for non-economic losses compensate you for all other sorts of harm you incur as a result of a personal injury; those damages that are not immediately linked to monetary costs but are no less genuine in their negative impact on your life. Among them are the physical and mental agony you’ve endured, the damage you’ve done to close personal relationships and the general decline in your quality of life.

Lawyers often refer to compensatory damages as “making you whole” when discussing them. It’s important to note that this isn’t entirely accurate because money cannot replace your health, bodily functions, or the life of a loved one.

Despite this, compensatory damages are still meant to help you return to where you were before your injury, as feasible. Compensation for losses is generally not subject to federal income tax.

The concept of compensatory damages has a long and distinguished legal history. U.S. courts (and those in Great Britain before them) have been examining compensatory damages for over a century.

“You are paid for these exact items and you may obtain this specific amount of money, in a personal injury lawsuit,” does not exist in most cases.

The lengthy history of court rulings in personal injury cases, known as the common law, guides attorneys, judges, and insurance companies when assessing what damages a victim may seek and collect in their particular circumstances.

CONSEQUENCES OF TORTIOUS CONDUCT

If legislation specifies the damages you may seek for the injury you incurred, this isn’t true.

A particular form of damage that individuals may experience, or a certain type of harmful behavior that might cause personal injuries, may be the topic of legislation from the legislatures. If you’ve been injured or harmed by someone else’s actions, you may be entitled to compensation under certain laws (or statutes). The legal term for these types of damages is statutory damages.

Many different types of statutory damages exist, each with a specific goal. Statutory damages, for example, might be mandated by the legislature in circumstances where affected parties would otherwise have difficulty demonstrating their losses. On the other hand, Statutory damages may be put in place by legislators to restrict the sorts or levels of compensatory damages that an injured person can collect from their insurer. Statutory damages may be retribution in certain cases (see below). Statutory damages may not be taxed in certain cases, depending on their intended use.

Regardless of the circumstances, experienced personal injury attorneys know when and how statutory damages may be awarded in a personal injury lawsuit. They consider the probability of such damages while developing legal tactics for their client’s benefit.

Statutory damages may be invoked in certain circumstances. Still, in others, it may be avoided since it limits the amount of money an injured person may obtain, such as in the case of punitive damages.

INJUNCTIVE AND EXEMPLARY PENALTIES

Exemplary or punitive damages are the third large category of damages that a personal injury claimant may seek in a lawsuit. Equivalent to punitive damages, they are the polar opposite of compensation. Instead of reimbursing the victim, they seek to punish and discourage the party responsible for the damage and future offenders.

When an aggrieved  have the authoritycan show “by clear and compelling evidence that the defendant has been guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice,” Colorado courts have the jurisdiction to impose exemplary damages.

Let’s take a closer look at what it entails under Colorado law.

  • A claim for exemplary damages must be backed up by solid proof. For the most part, an injured person’s lawyer is only required to establish damages by a preponderance of the evidence—in other words, that the at-fault party caused those losses more often than not. Preponderance does not provide the same confidence level as clear and persuasive evidence in proving a point.
  • Disgusting behavior that subjects a person to harsh and unfair suffering in intentionally violating that person’s rights is called oppression.
  • If a defendant intentionally misrepresents, deceives, or conceals a substantial truth that the defendant is aware of, he or she is committing fraud.
  • For example, if a defendant intends to harm the plaintiff or engages in disgusting behavior with a purposeful and intentional disregard for the rights or safety of others, they are guilty of malice.

To summarize, your attorney must demonstrate the worst sorts of wrongdoing on the side of the at-fault party to get exemplary or punitive damages for your injury. Punitive damages are awarded in Colorado only in rare situations since they are difficult to obtain. Punitive damages are generally taxed in the United States.

How to File a Damages Claim

Now that we’ve discussed why damages exist and the different types, it’s time to talk about how an injured person obtains compensation for their losses.

In most situations, personal injury lawsuits are typically filed in the court that has jurisdiction over the event or accident that caused the harm.

If a client has been harmed in a traffic collision in Colorado Springs, a personal injury lawyer will often (but not always) file a case on his or her behalf either the Colorado Springs County Superior Court or the Southern District of Colorado’s United States District Court.

However, bringing a lawsuit isn’t something you do on the spur of the moment. This is why those injured in an accident should always seek the advice of an attorney whose practice concentrates on personal injury law, who has successfully represented individuals in comparable situations, and who can point to a track record of success.

Depending on the specifics of each case, the processes that attorneys use to create and execute a claim for personal injury damages may differ.

To give you an idea, below are some common examples:

  • Investigation of the case. The combination of facts and legal concepts proves the at-fault party is liable to the injured party for damages in a personal injury case. Lawyers need proof to back up their claims. Sometimes, a lawyer must find out exactly what occurred to a client to build a strong case. It’s very uncommon for investigators to spend time at accident sites, go over documents and speak with witnesses, and hire specialists to dive into the technical specifics of an incident or medical condition.
  • Analysis of legal issues and strategies. Personal injury attorneys use legal action to recover damages on behalf of their clients who someone else’s negligence has harmed. It is sometimes the lawyer’s job to advise the client on the appropriate course of action to ensure maximum compensation is obtained from one or more parties who owe the victim of a personal injury. The lawyer may determine, for example, that launching a lawsuit against one party while requesting reimbursement from another is the best course of action at this time.
  • A lawsuit’s preparation and filing. Documents known as pleadings are submitted to a court when filing a lawsuit. A complaint is the most common name for the document that serves as the basis for a lawsuit. The complaint outlines who the parties are, why the court has jurisdiction to hear their case, the circumstances that entitle the injured party (known as the plaintiff) to damages, and the legal foundation for requesting those damages from the defendant.
  • Discovery. Both sides begin to seek information from each other and other parties to “find” the facts essential to the case when they file a lawsuit for damages. It’s common to conduct oath-compliant interviews with witnesses and examine and exchange papers and other materials as part of the discovery process (known as depositions). Injured people may use discovery as a strong tool to get the evidence they need to support their compensation claim.
  • Practicing in motion. Several procedural and substantive judgements may be sought by one or both parties before and throughout the discovery process. The parties submit these requests in documents referred to as motions. A personal injury lawyer’s skilful use of motions may help bolster and even speed up the conclusion of a personal injury case.

Jeremy D. Earle, JD is a personal injury lawyer.

Negotiation for a settlement. For damages, the great majority of personal injury claims for damages are settled out of court. A settlement agreement may settle legal claims. Settlements are common in personal injury cases when the injured party gets compensation for waiving their right to sue the at-fault party (and its insurance company). When and how to negotiate the best settlements for their clients are well-understood by experienced personal injury attorneys.

  • Trial. Disputes over personal injury settlements often end up in trial when attorneys present their facts and arguments to a jury. During a trial, a personal injury lawyer’s goal is to persuade jurors and judges that the client is entitled to compensation for his or her injuries.

A free consultation with an expert personal injury lawyer may help you understand more about suing for damages in a personal injury case that has impacted your life or the lives of a loved one.

After an accident, What Should I Not Tell My Insurance Company?

What You Don’t Tell Your Insurers.

The words you choose are vital in the aftermath of an automobile accident. It isn’t much you can say to help your case or increase your financial compensation. You may, however, say anything that might jeopardize your case or diminish your compensation. You must be aware of what you should never say to an insurance adjuster.

An expert personal injury lawyer attorney can deal with the insurance company on your behalf, so you don’t have to worry about saying the wrong thing. Even if you haven’t retained a lawyer, the insurance company may pressure you into saying anything. If you make a mistake here, it will be impossible to fix.

Be Refusal to Admit Your Error

When communicating with an insurance provider after an accident, the essential rule is never to acknowledge the accident’s blame. Doing so automatically eliminates any hope you had of recovering compensation for your injuries. Once you’ve admitted fault for the accident, there’s no going back.

Admitting culpability entails much more than stating that you bear responsibility for the mishap. Apologizing or admitting that you didn’t notice the other motorist are two options. There are methods to accept error without stating it outright, which may be just as effective.

The Claims Adjuster Isn’t Working for You.

After a car accident, you could assume your statements were innocuous and of little consequence. When it comes to the insurance company, they hear things very differently. It is news that they may not have to pay out of their own pocket for your damages. Because money is their prime motivational force and the basis for their life, whatever opportunity they have to save money will be grasped forcefully.

The adjuster assigned to investigate the accident is not on your side, so keep this in mind while speaking with him. In other words, they work for the firm that hires them, and the other driver’s insurer expects them to look for methods to save money wherever feasible. They may use your own words to make your life more difficult and take money away from you that you were otherwise entitled to.

Mistakes to Avoid When Communicating with Insurance Companies

In the list below, you’ll find some of the most prevalent ploys used by insurance companies to underpay claimants.

Avoid making a statement to the insurance company in writing.

You should never make any statements to the responsible driver’s insurance adjuster on the record. If anything goes wrong during a recorded statement, you will be the sole one to pay for it.

As a personal injury attorney, they’ll tell you to avoid this. There are no compelling reasons to give this a whirl. The individual who relies on the insurance adjuster is always in a poor situation.

Insurance companies will have a formidable weapon when they capture your voice and statements. Like any other self-serving party, they may take your words out of context and use them against you.

They have the ability and willingness to probe you deeply to persuade you to make a single erroneous remark. Even the smallest error might have a significant financial impact when making an official declaration. It may potentially result in the loss of your whole claim. You can’t take back what you say once it’s been recorded, and it may be used against you for the rest of your life.

You have no legal need to make a documented statement to the other motorist’s insurance company. They’d want to hear from you, but you’re under no obligation to do so.

You may and should gently reject and send them to your attorney if they ask you for information about your case (who they should have gone through in the first place). For those who have no legal representation and are unaware that this is a possibility, the dilemma arises (and is discouraged).

Try Not to Make It Appear That You’re All Right

Furthermore, you should never minimize your injuries or discuss your health with an insurance company. In the aftermath of your injury, an insurance adjuster may go out of their way to demonstrate concern and sorrow for you. Even if you just say, “I’ll be OK,” your claim might be jeopardized.

In the same vein, you should avoid talking about anything unrelated to your case with an adjuster. Even the tiniest of gestures might cost you. They may, for example, inquire about your weekend plans and seem to be engaging in conversation. As part of their investigation, they are looking into whether or not your claims of being unable to work are in keeping with the rest of your life.

When it comes time for an insurance adjuster to make a settlement offer and negotiate compensation, they will try to use your attempt to minimize your injuries against you. Regardless of your claim, they will recall that you may have conceded that you aren’t as severely injured as you claim to be.

Make No Assumptions About Injuries You May Have Suffered

When you initially meet with an insurance adjuster, you may not realize the entire scope of your injuries.

If you’re in a vehicle accident, you might get injuries that take time to manifest, such as:

  • Concussions of the brain
  • A long-term ailment

It’s possible that you don’t know the full extent of your injuries or haven’t had time to encounter any more symptoms.

As a consequence of an accident, if you tell an insurance adjuster that you’re OK, you may not be able to get the full amount of compensation you deserve. After a car accident, you may be able to meet with an insurance adjuster.

It’s possible that you won’t have a comprehensive picture of your health before then. If you don’t know anything about your health, don’t guess. Even if you know your medical state, you should refrain from bringing it up with the insurance adjuster.

Do Not Tell Your Insurance Company About Your Injuries

You should avoid downplaying your ailments, but you should avoid describing your injuries if you can prevent them. Diagnosis and medical documents provided by your doctor should suffice. Even if you have suffered a traumatic brain injury, your insurance company may require you to return your original claim if you can’t prove otherwise.

Adjusters may sometimes try to exploit your prior ailment as a reason to avoid paying for your treatment. You have nothing to gain by describing your injuries to them. It will be ignored if the information provided does not meet the needs of the insurance adjuster. They will use it to your advantage if they manage to get their hands on anything beneficial to their cause.

Avoid Making Assumptions About What Caused Your Accident.

It’s also best if you avoid making any kind of editorial judgments regarding your accident. Don’t speculate on what the other drivers did or attempted to do; stick to the facts. In the event of an accident, you never know what you could say that provides the insurance company with an opportunity to dispute your claim.

Any sentence beginning with “I believe” should be avoided. The insurance company may question you if you come up with a rationale for what other drivers were doing, so don’t do it! It’s better to admit that you have no recollection than to make a remark that could deviate from the truth just because you’re eager to say anything.

After an accident, the best thing to do is avoid talking to an insurance company. They’ll do all they can to have a chat with you and get you on the record as soon as possible. You should expect them to use a variety of ruses, such as not identifying themselves when they call or pretending to be there to assist you. Your adversary’s firm calls and pretends to be an approachable and helpful insurance provider.

Before long, anything you say is fair game for the insurance company. You can be sure that your statements will be pulled out of context, replayed, and repeated once you’re on the record. Do everything it takes to save costs for the insurer. If you’ve said you’re OK, they may use it to argue against your damages.

 Do not answer the phone when the insurance company calls you.

The best course of action is to respectfully refuse any communication from the insurance provider. If an attorney does not represent you, you’re putting yourself at more risk. Your lawyer will talking with an insurance company interactions. Unless they go via your lawyer, they won’t be able to contact you directly.

As a rule, a skilled personal injury attorney will tell their client not to speak with the insurance company. If you need to talk with them, your lawyer will be there and will thoroughly prepare you for the discussion.

Do not deal with the insurance company on your own by hiring a lawyer.

The most important thing you can do following an automobile accident is to contact a lawyer immediately. If you hire a lawyer, they will handle all aspects of your case, including dealing with the insurance company, which they will try to avoid at all costs.

Employing the services of an attorney will help you avoid saying things that might end up costing you money and compromising the validity of your claim. When dealing with an insurance company, it’s best to leave it to a lawyer with experience rather than attempting to represent yourself.

Sometimes, being kind and nice might backfire when the person you’re speaking to is taking notes to use everything against you and cost you money.

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