When you are injured in an accident, you will have to deal with a good amount of physical pain, a lot of doctors’ appointments, and time missed away from work. If your injuries were caused by the negligence of another person, you may have filed an insurance claim. If your claim was denied, or if they did not offer you what you think your injuries were worth, you may have to sue the insurance company. If the individual or business that is responsible for your injuries did not have insurance or did not have enough insurance to cover your injuries, you may have to sue them.
In the event that you have to litigate, you should know the basic steps to file a personal injury suit and what will be expected of you.
Hiring an Attorney
When an insurance company offers you too little for your injuries, it is natural to want to sue them. You should never file a lawsuit against an insurance company pro se. Insurance companies have teams of attorneys who are devoted to keeping their money in-house.
A professional personal injury attorney will have years of experience in dealing with insurance companies. You may not ever have to file a lawsuit at all because they will be able to negotiate with an insurance company on your behalf. An attorney will be well-versed in insurance law in the state of California.
If you do end up having to sue them, a law office like The King Law Firm will be staffed with a team of legal experts who can do the necessary research to win your case.
What Your Attorney Will Need From You
Documentation is the key to a successful insurance claim or lawsuit. If you are injured in a car accident, you should call the police and wait for them to arrive. Request a copy of the police report and get the names of any witnesses at the scene. You should also exchange information with the other driver and take pictures if you can.
If you are injured in a slip and fall accident, you should get the name of the property owner’s insurance company, take pictures of anything that may have caused the accident and get the names of any witnesses.
Be sure to save copies of all your doctor’s bills. You should also save the receipt for any prescription or non-prescription medicine you may have to take. If you have missed hours from your job, you should have your company’s HR director give you documentation of the time you have missed. Your attorney will need this information to build your case.
Going to Court
If your attorney and the insurance company are unable to agree upon a settlement amount, you will go to court. In California, you have two years from the time of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit.
If you are suing for under $10,000, you will file your case in small claims court. If your suing for over $10,000 you will file your suit in district court. You will file a complaint, which will detail why you are suing and then you will have the insurance company served with a summons.
In some cases, an insurance company may pay as soon as they are served. In other cases they will file an answer with the court and your case will begin.
Before you go to trial, your attorney and the insurance company will try to work something out. If they are unable to do this, the case will go into the discovery phase, where both sides can research the case and request information of one another.
They will probably try to negotiate again. If no decision can be reached, you will go to court and a judge or jury will listen to both sides of the argument. The judge or jury will then decide in favor of one side or the other. If they decide in favor of the insurance company, you may be able to appeal the case.
Personal injury cases rarely go to court, but if they do it is a good idea to be prepared. Good research and stellar legal representation will help you get the money you deserve.