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What does it mean to make a personal injury claim?

After suffering serious injuries in an accident, a Florida resident often incurs a significant amount of medical expenses and other damages. Even with health insurance, medical costs for hospitalization, physical therapy and other medical-related needs can reach into the tens of thousands, if not more. If he or she believes that one or more parties caused or contributed to the injuries, a personal injury claim might be appropriate.

In some cases, the parties, their attorneys and insurance companies sit down to negotiate a settlement without going to court. Once an agreement is reached, it is documented, reviewed and executed. The at-fault party, and/or his or her insurance company, agrees to pay a set amount for the claim in exchange for written confirmation that no further action will be taken. The parties could decide to use an alternative method of dispute resolution such as mediation or arbitration to help resolve their issues.

If that is not possible, a personal injury lawsuit could be filed in a Florida civil court. A complaint is filed outlining the facts of the case, why the other party is believed to be at fault and including a request for damages. If the evidence establishes negligence, the court could consider making an award of damages to the injured party.

It would be advantageous to involve an attorney as early in the process as possible in order to protect the rights of the injured party. Insurance companies tend to make quick settlement offers after accidents that are often far lower than the injured party might be entitled to through further negotiation or a personal injury lawsuit. Since there might not be a way to know what medical care could be needed in the future, accepting the first offer of settlement could deny a victim the financial resources needed to pay for future medical needs and other financial losses.

Source: FindLaw, "Personal Injury Law: The Basics", Accessed on Feb. 20, 2017

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