Personal Injury FAQs
Accidents nearly always take victims by surprise, creating instant life changes until they fully recover financially and physically.
These cases always involve the negligent or intentional actions of another, causing the victim’s harm. If the injured party can prove how the others’ negligence or intention caused their damages, they will likely be compensated through the defendant’s insurance carrier policy. However, filing a claim can be complicated.
A personal injury attorney has answered a few of the commonly asked personal injury FAQs (frequently asked questions) below.
- What Is Personal Injury?
- What Is Personal Injury Protection?
- What Is A Personal Injury Claim?
- How Much To Ask For In a Personal Injury Settlement?
- How Do I Win My Personal Injury Claim?
- How Long Does It Take To Get A Personal Injury Settlement Check?
- How Do I Sue Walmart For Personal Injury?
- What Is My Personal Injury Claim Worth?
- What Percentage Do Personal Injury Lawyers Take?
- How Do I Choose A Personal Injury Law Firm?
- What Does A Personal Injury Lawyer Do?
- How Do I Negotiate a Personal Injury Case Without An Attorney?
- How Do I Write a Demand Letter for Personal Injury?
- What Happens If I Reject the Settlement Offer?
What Is Personal Injury?
Personal injury is a legal term used in civil court following “tort” law in filed lawsuits. Victims will file a personal injury claim, case, or lawsuit seeking damages (a legal remedy) to receive compensation caused by another’s negligent or reckless actions.
Everyday situations that require using personal injury law include:
- Accidents – Another motorist’s reckless or careless actions leading to an accident could result in severe injuries or death. Victims can file a personal injury claim for compensation.
- Intentional act – Victims of assault and battery could seek legal remedy through the civil court filing a personal injury case against their abuser.
- Defective product – injuries or death caused by a defective product (harmful medication, faulty automobile part, etc.) can seek legal remedies from the manufacturer, designer, distributor, or reseller.
- Medical malpractice – A health care professional that unintentionally hurts their patients could be accused of medical malpractice, where victims (the injured patients) are awarded funds to compensate for their damage.
- Wrongful death – The negligent, reckless, or abusive actions of others can lead to a preventable death. Surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation from those that caused them to lose their loved one.
What Is Personal Injury Protection?
Many states require motors to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance coverage to pay for the injured driver or passenger’s medical bills and lost wages when involved in a vehicle accident.
This insurance overlaps health care insurance to pay for bodily injury liability that cover hospitalization, surgeries, ongoing professional care, home health care expenses, and funeral/burial costs.
The state of Illinois does not require drivers to carry PIP insurance.
What Is A Personal Injury Claim?
Victims of accidents or injuries caused by negligence, or the reckless or intentional actions of another, usually involve a personal injury case seeking compensation.
Usually, the person responsible for causing the harm will compensate the injured individual through their insurance company coverage to pay for medical expenses, pain-and-suffering.
Personal injury claims are based on tort law and are handled in one of two ways. Most personal injury cases are resolved through informal settlements and lawsuits.
- Informal settlements – Both sides (the plaintiff’s personal injury attorney and the defendant’s lawyers) negotiate disputed legal matters until agreeing on a settlement amount. The plaintiff and defendant will forego further legal action by a written agreement, like filing a lawsuit” settling the case entirely.
- Formal lawsuits – In many cases, the plaintiff and defendants cannot reach an acceptable agreement, causing the case to go to trial. Both sides will present evidence in front of a judge and jury showing the defendant’s careless or irresponsible actions led to the victim's (plaintiff’s) harm.
How Much To Ask For In a Personal Injury Settlement?
Victims injured by the reckless, careless, negligent, or willful actions of another have the legal right to file a personal injury case to receive compensation for their damages. So how much should the plaintiff (victim) ask for during a negotiated settlement phase?
Generally, a personal injury law firm will ask for 75% to 100% more than their client is willing to accept. If the victim’s lawyers determined that the case is worth $100,000, the beginning negotiated price should be $175,000 or more.
The defendant’s attorneys or the insurance claims adjuster (insurance agent) will likely make an offer significantly lower than the actual worth ($100,000) in this scenario.
The plaintiff asking for significantly more than the case’s value and the defendant’s offer to settle the case for significantly lower than its worth is a good starting point during the negotiation process.
Determining the actual worth of the case can be complicated. Typically, personal injury attorneys will use various tools and available data to calculate how other plaintiffs seeking compensation in similar accident cases have evaluated their claims’ value.
How Do I Win My Personal Injury Claim?
The steps you took during the minutes, hours, days, and weeks following your personal injury will determine how successful the outcome of your claim will be. Hopefully, you sought emergency medical treatment after the accident or event caused by the negligence of another, even if you believe that your injuries were minor.
It would be best if you had gone to every doctor follow-up appointment to document the extent of your injuries and how well you have recovered while healing.
You, or your attorney, likely gather eyewitness accounts from people who saw the accident to help support your case and evidence you could present in front of a judge and jury.
At this point, to win your case, you will need to take additional steps to include:
- Figure out the worth of the claim,
- Gather your medical records, accident reports, and police report,
- Prepare your demand letter seeking compensation,
- Counter the claims adjuster’s delay or denial of pain you anything,
- Building a case to negotiate or present evidence at trial,
- Participate with your personal injury law firm during the negotiated settlement meeting,
- Accept or reject the defendant’s offer to resolve the case,
- Go to trial if the defendant or claims adjuster’s offer is unacceptable.
How Long Does It Take To Get A Personal Injury Settlement Check?
Many victims injured through the negligent or reckless actions of others are often eager to finalize their case, receive the check, and pay off all their medical bills and expenses. However, resolving a negotiated settlement does not just happen when an insurance company puts your check in the mail.
After both parties, your personal injury law firm and the defendant’s lawyers or claims adjuster, reach an agreement, numerous release forms must be signed in the process.
In many cases, additional negotiations have to be met after the settlement amount has been accepted. There may be specific settlement terms and how the funds will be paid.
Once the release forms are signed, the documents are sent to the insurance company to issue the settlement check. However, the check is typically made out to both the plaintiff and their attorney.
However, the insurance company may delay your payment for numerous reasons, including a simple clerical error. Typically, it takes up to six weeks for the check to arrive at the lawyer’s office.
Usually, the lawyer will deposit the insurance check into the law firm’s escrow account to ensure that all your liens are paid for before distribution is made of the remaining portions of the settlement. Paying the liens could include sending a check to the medical provider that provided you treatment outside of your insurance coverage.
Finally, the lawyer will deduct their legal fees and costs associated with your case and send you the remainder. If the claim was resolved through a structured settlement, you would receive regular checks on a fixed schedule.
How Do I Sue Walmart For Personal Injury?
Filing a compensation claim for a slip and fall or another injury at Walmart is handled like all other personal injury cases involving premises liability. To receive money for your accident, you will need to prove four elements that are the basis of a negligence lawsuit claim.
You will need to show that:
- Walmart had a duty to ensure every person a safe environment free of hazards
- Walmart breached that duty, placing you and possibly others in danger
- You suffered appreciable harm on Walmart property
- Walmart’s breach led to your appreciable harm
After your accident, you need to seek medical attention, even if you believe that your injuries are minor. Next, gather evidence, including photographs of the accident scene and your injuries.
Keep the clothing you were wearing at the time of the accident as evidence for the claims adjuster or judge and jury. Do not talk to any Walmart employee or speak to the claims adjuster until after discussing what happened with a competent personal injury lawyer.
Be sure to file all the necessary paperwork before your state statute of limitations expires. For example, in Illinois victims have up to two years to file a compensation claim before losing their rights to justice forever.
If Walmart sold the defective product, you are likely entitled to receive financial compensation through a product liability claim or lawsuit.
Finally, if you were an employee working at Walmart at the time of the accident, you are likely entitled to receive workers’ comp benefits through your employer. Your attorney can ensure that you receive the maximum compensation for your workplace accident through the Worker’s Comp benefit program.
What Is My Personal Injury Claim Worth?
Victims injured through negligence or the reckless actions of others are entitled to file a personal injury case. However, determining the case’s value can be difficult.
Many claims involve car accidents, medical malpractice, defective products, premises liability, and slip and falls.
The victim, or their injury attorney, can calculate the value of their claim based on the expenses, losses, and damages. Specific factors used to calculate include:
- Medical bills – Any victim harmed by another deserves a right to receive financial compensation to cover all past, current, and future medical treatments, therapies, pain management care, therapy, and transportation to the doctor.
- Lost income – Moderate to severe injuries could force the injured victim to miss work. The victim should receive financial recovery of their lost income and future lost earnings up to 100% of their wages.
- Emotional distress – Many accident victims suffer emotional distress leading to depression, anxiety, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other emotional trauma. Their distress level has monetary value that should be included in the negotiated settlement or jury trial award.
- Pain-and-suffering – A personal injury lawyer representing the victim will use a “pain multiplier” to calculate the non-economic loss involving pain-and-suffering damages.
The victim’s attorney will also base the case’s value on the insurance policy’s limits to write the check after a negotiated settlement or jury trial award.
For example, suppose the jury awards the victim $150,000 in damages, but the insurance coverage max’s out at $100,000. In that case, the victim will lose the remainder of their award because there are no additional funds available above $100,000.
What Percentage Do Personal Injury Lawyers Take?
Many attorneys represent personal injury victims on a contingent fee basis. It is not uncommon for a personal injury lawyer to take 33.33% (one-third) of the negotiated amount of a resolved injury case.
For example, if the victim agrees to a $100,000 negotiated settlement, the attorney will take $33,333, with the remainder going to the victim after all liens and additional case costs are deducted.
If the plaintiff (victim) and the defendant (person to cause the harm) cannot reach an acceptable negotiated agreement, the case will likely go to trial. When this occurs, the personal injury lawyer will likely take 40% to present evidence in front of a judge and jury.
How Do I Choose A Personal Injury Law Firm?
The attorney you use for your personal injury case will likely determine the case’s outcome, how much money you receive, and how your rights are protected. Use the best criteria to select the best attorney in your community to ensure your case’s successful outcome.
The lawyer should have experience handling cases similar to yours and be accessible to discuss how your case is going when necessary. You can ask individuals for referrals, perform an online search, look at lawyer directories, and set up meetings with potential attorney candidates before you ever sign a contract.
Personal injury cases can take time and money to resolve. Seek out personal injury attorneys that are willing to provide upfront fees to avoid making any payment until your case has been resolved through a negotiated settlement or jury trial verdict.
What Does A Personal Injury Lawyer Do?
Personal injury attorneys provide legal representation, advice, and counseling to individuals who have been physically, mentally, psychologically, or financially damaged through the negligent or intentional acts of others. These law firms are civil lawyers working on the state’s tort cases using legislative statutes to recover funds to pay for their clients’ damages.
Usually, injured individuals will hire a personal injury lawyer to file a claim, dispute legal decisions, and negotiate a settlement to resolve the claim. Sometimes, a personal injury lawyer will build a case to take the evidence in front of a judge and jury when the plaintiff (injured party) and the defendant, party at fault) cannot reach an acceptable negotiated settlement.
How Do I Negotiate a Personal Injury Case Without An Attorney?
Receiving a fair settlement and maximizing your injury recovery case can be difficult without legal representation. Insurance companies and their claims adjusters pay out billions of dollars annually to resolve car accident claims, but often use effective tactics to increase their profits by offering extremely lowball offers to resolve their accident cases.
You might not need to hire an attorney to ensure a fair settlement in your case. However, you will need to build an influential negotiating position and prove that the other person was at fault for your damages.
You will need to show that:
- The other individual had a duty of care to ensure your safety,
- However, that person was negligent, doing something wrong by neglecting to ensure your safety like driving through a red light, selling you a defective product, or causing you to slip and fall,
- The extent of your accident injuries was the result of the negligent act.
Your injuries can be measured and used to calculate the extent of your damages (medical bills, car repair costs, lost wages, pain, and suffering).
Negotiating a settlement or presenting your case at trial can be complicated without a comprehensive knowledge of civil “tort” law. The insurance company's settlement statement form may be confusing.
You may want to consider discussing your case with a personal injury attorney during a free initial consultation to discuss a much higher compensation amount through legal representation than you would get without using a lawyer.
How Do I Write a Demand Letter for Personal Injury?
Victims injured through others’ negligent actions - whether in car accidents, workplace injuries, or other types of negligence - have the legal right to file a claim with the insurance companies seeking monetary recovery for their damages. At some point, they will need to write a demand letter to the insurance company, initiating an open claim.
The demand letter should include details like the victim’s name, address, and other contact information. Additional information will include the name and address of the person responsible for causing the harm and their insurance policies.
Include a summary of what happened and describe your accident injuries using a broad outline that describes what happened, at what location, time of day, and every party involved.
Your demand letter should have a lengthy section laying out your case and details of your injuries (in detail) and property damage caused in the accident. Finally, state your reason and why you know that the defendant is directly responsible for your injuries and damages.
If necessary, attach any documentation you need to support your claim of the extent of your accident injuries, including medical records or car repair estimates.
Finally, you will need to describe the accident and the aftermath while making a demand for monetary recovery that should include your hospitalization costs, medical bills, lost wages, future lost earnings, cost of repairs, and other damages, including permanent scars, emotional trauma, pain, and suffering.
Sign the document, put it in an envelope, and mail it to the insurance company’s correct address where they accept claims and demand letters using certified mail through the U.S. Postal Service.
Ask the Postal Service for a return receipt, so you know they receive the envelope. Tracking the envelope will also show its delivery date to identify what day your case legally started.
What Happens If I Reject the Settlement Offer?
Many victims filing a personal injury case will reject the first settlement offer from the insurance adjuster that is often significantly lower than the case’s worth.
Refusing to accept the offer stops the settlement process at a point where the defendant may choose not to make another settlement offer and instead take the case to trial.
At this stage, you might want to consider hiring a personal injury attorney specializing in cases similar to yours. Working on your behalf, an attorney can use their years of legal expertise and negotiating skills to get the amount of monetary recovery you need to resolve your claim.
Your lawyer can initiate an investigation, ensure you are receiving proper treatment for your accident injuries, and begin negotiating with the defendant’s attorneys to get the amount you deserve. If there is just no meeting of the minds between you and the defense, your lawyer can begin building a case for trial.
At this point, both sides will need to provide discovery that gathers more information used in court. The gathered information may include depositions, interrogatories, and documents like medical records and police reports.
It is common for defense lawyers to reach out and make a negotiated settlement in the hours before the trial begins due to the jury’s uncertainty and how the lawsuit will be resolved.
What if the negotiated settlement is still not possible? Trust the experience of your trial attorney and their team, who is likely not afraid to show the evidence and fight for their clients' rights to get the money they deserve. Once the attorney client relationship is established, many law firms operate on a contingency fee basis.
We hope these personal injury FAQs have answered questions you have.
- How Much can I get for my Personal Injury Claim?
- Personal Injury Statistics?
- Should I Handle my Own Personal Injury Case?
- What are Examples of Illinois Personal Injuries?
- What are Types of Personal Injury Cases?
- What can I do if I am Injured in an Accident?
- What is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
- When Should You File a Personal Injury Claim?
- Expert Witnesses
- How to Determine the Value of Your Case?
- Determine How Much Money Your Economic Damages Are Worth: Four Factors
- Determine How Much Money Your Non-Economic Damages Are Worth
- Determine How Much Money Your Punitive Damages Are Worth: Six Factors