You’re hurt in an accident and you know that you have a strong personal injury claim. It’s time to pursue it and get the compensation that you deserve. But where do you even begin? What happens first? How do you file a personal injury claim? Our Tampa personal injury lawyers explain how to file a personal injury claim. Here are the steps to filing a lawsuit for personal injury:
1. Determine Who the Claim Is Against
Filing a personal injury claim begins with knowing who the claim is against. You must evaluate your case in order to determine who is the responsible party or parties. In personal injury cases, it may be especially important to name an employer, property owner or insurance company as a defendant. Who you decide to bring the claim against may impact what court has jurisdiction and where you should file the case.
2. Decide What Court Has Jurisdiction Over the Case
Once you know who you’re making the claim against, you can decide where to bring the claim. Different courts hear different types of cases. Your personal injury case is going to start out in a trial court, but most states split trial courts into groups based on the subject matter and the value of the case. In addition, the location where you file needs to be where the accident occurs, where the defendant does business or where a court has jurisdiction for another reason.
3. Prepare Your Summons and Complaint
A summons and complaint tell the court who the case is against and what it is about. A summons is a document that notifies a party that a lawsuit has been started against them. The complaint states the facts of the accident, the legal theories like negligence or intentional tort and finally, the damages sought by the victim. The summons and complaint must comply with Rules of Civil Procedure and sufficiently put the defendant on notice of the claim against them. The court must approve of your summons and complaint filing before you serve it on the other party.
4. Create the Civil Cover Sheet
Most jurisdictions require you to file a civil cover sheet when filing a personal injury lawsuit. The paper answers basic jurisdictional questions. It assists the court with assigning the case properly in the court system. Information disclosed includes the approximate amount of the case, the type of relief sought and whether you’re asking for a jury trial.
5. File the Documents
Once your documents are prepared for your personal injury claim, it’s time to file them and formally begin your case. You should bring an original, signed copy of the complaint along with the number of copies required in your jurisdiction.
6. Pay the Filing Fee
There is a cost to starting a personal injury claim. Determine the fee for your case. Pay it with your filing in order to have the clerk of court formally accept your documents.
7. Serve the Other Party
Once the court formally accepts your documents, you must serve the other party. The law requires you to notify the other party that they are being brought into a lawsuit. Serve the other side with a copy of your filing documents in a way that complies with your state and local laws. Create a proof of service document in order to keep a record that you completed this step.
8. Continue To Pursue Your Case
Filing a personal injury claim is only the beginning. Once you file and serve the other side, it’s time to get to work. Build the evidence in your case, file and respond to legal motions and comply with any court directives for preliminary hearings and filings.
Can I Make a Personal Injury Claim Myself?
Yes, you can make a personal injury claim yourself. The law allows but does not require a litigant to have their own attorney. However, the procedural rules and burdens apply in the same manner as if you had a lawyer. Even honest mistakes can result in a personal injury claim being dismissed when the victim has a strong case.
Attorneys for Personal Injury Claim
While you can file a personal injury claim yourself, you also have the right to choose an attorney to represent you. An attorney has the training and skills to handle the steps associated with filing your claim. Rather than having procedural questions become a point of frustration or even prevent you from receiving the compensation that you deserve, you can work with a trained advocate who is able to assist you in handling your case in a professional way.
An experienced personal injury lawyer will also be able to answer questions specific to your case and circumstances. What are personal injury claim settlement amounts and how much can I recover for my damages? Are personal injury claims taxable? Can I receive compensation for pain and suffering? These are all legal questions your attorney can answer.
If you’re considering filing a personal injury claim, we invite you to meet with our team of Tampa personal injury lawyers. See how the right legal team can make all the difference as you pursue justice. There’s no cost for your consultation. Call or message us today.