How to file an accident lawsuit – Initial steps to take
Following an accident, the very first thing you have to do is seek out medical attention if there are severe injuries. You want to deal with medical concerns, have your injuries taken care of, and then you can start to worry about the legal matters which are going to follow. So, once you have tended to your injuries and are in good health, if you would like to know how to file an accident lawsuit, there are a few steps you need to take. So, this is the initial process in filing, and properly notifying the other party of the claim.
1. Write it down –
Make sure you have everything documented. This should be in the form of:
– Police reports you had filed at the scene of the accident.
– Phone calls made to insurers, adjusters, to the other party, lawyers, etc.
– All witness statements, names, accounts of the accident, and possible expert testimony (if you have spoken to a lawyer).
Basically, any and everything which relates to the accident, the date, the insurance companies, yourself, passengers, witnesses, and of course the other driver and their passengers, all have to be clearly laid out. The more written and documented information you have, the better it is going to be to bolster your case. And, the better the chances are you will have a settlement offer come your way (if you do inform the other party of a lingering lawsuit they wish to avoid).
2. Know the SOL –
The SOL, or statute of limitations, is typically 1 year or less (in many jurisdictions it is far less) which you have to actually file a claim. This is so as to avoid having people bring up old injuries from 5 or 10 years ago, and stating it was from the injury they were involved in. You can find this information out with your local court (a quick online search is typically a good way to start finding out about the claim process). You can also speak to a lawyer about your case and the fact that you wish to file a claim. More often than not an accident lawyer will discuss your case and potential lawsuit free of charge. If they believe you have a viable case, they will inform you of fees, the process, how long things will take, and how much you can realistically expect, in the event you do decide to go through with the process.
3. Filing –
You do not need to hire an attorney (although it will greatly benefit you to do so) if you choose to go through with filing a claim. At this point you are actually going to file the lawsuit with the respective court (this might be the appeals court in some jurisdictions or a general claims court in others). Make sure you notify the party of the lawsuit (the other driver), inform all insurance companies, adjusters, and that you have all necessary paperwork when filing the claim.
One of the major benefits of having a lawyer by your side is that they have all forms, paperwork, and know how to properly compile evidence, witnesses, and other information for the court. But, it is not essential for you to hire an attorney if you simply wish to file it. If the case does come back on appeal, if the other driver tries to fight the claim or hires a lawyer, or if insurance companies or government agencies were involved in the case, this might be the time which you actually choose to hire a lawyer, simply to preserve your rights, and to ensure everything is being done as it should be done.
4. Wait for a response –
Once the claim is filed, the opposing party has a time period in which to appeal. They can introduce new evidence, or if they agree with the claim as it is filed (this is typically not going to be the case), they might choose to try and settle the case out of court with you. If it is a fair settlement (again, this is where having a lawyer is going to benefit you), it might be best advised for you to choose to settle out of court.
Settlements should include:
– Any medical bills or costs.
– Damage costs, repair costs, or replacement costs.
– Medication costs.
– If you have to take time off work, it should be documented and compensation should be included.
– Any other loss and monetary value which is owed to you, should also be accounted for and clearly laid out in the settlement.
More often than not, these cases take several months if not years. So if the settlement is a reasonable one, offers you the monies you seek, and if you believe it is a respectable offer, then settling out of court is the best way to avoid a lengthy process, and in some instances, not receiving the money you believe is owed to you if the court finds the other party was not at fault as you claimed they were.
5. Move forward with the case –
If you choose not to settle, and decide to go forth with the lawsuit, you simply have to wait for the court to respond. Court dates, meetings, possible mediation, or other meetings might be required prior to moving forward with a lawsuit. Each case and each jurisdiction will differ in how long the process will take, so after it is filed, and all paperwork properly submitted, it is a matter of waiting it out if you desire to go through with the claim process.
There are many instances a lawsuit is the only way to ensure you are going to be compensated for an accident, if you want to know how to file an accident lawsuit,, these are a few initial steps you will take in the matter. If at all possible, settling is typically the best resolution. But, in some instances, if the opposing side is being difficult, taking the case to court might be the only manner in which you are going to be compensated for the accident you were involved in, and believe you were not at fault in.