When you are injured because of another party’s negligence or intentional torts, you deserve to be compensated for your losses and damages. Filing a personal injury claim is the first step in recovering compensation. While most personal injury cases settle through negotiations with the at-fault party, filing a personal injury lawsuit might be necessary to protect your rights.
Meeting with an experienced personal injury attorney is the best way to learn about your legal options. Call Shaked Law today to schedule a free case review with one of our Florida personal injury lawyers. Until then, continue reading to learn about the steps involved in filing a lawsuit in Miami, FL.
Steps for Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Miami, Florida
Each personal injury case is unique. However, all cases begin with an accident or personal injury. Therefore, the first step in pursuing a personal injury claim is to seek medical care for your injuries.
Prompt medical care improves your chance of receiving a fair settlement amount or jury verdict for your case. If you did not go to the emergency room immediately after a car accident or other injury, see your family doctor as soon as possible for a complete examination.
You must prove that the other party caused your injuries. Detailed medical records are crucial evidence in a personal injury lawsuit. Delays in medical care could raise questions about whether the accident caused your injuries or you failed to mitigate damages.
Consult a Miami Personal Injury Lawyer
Ideally, you want to talk with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. An insurance company is focused on paying as little as possible to resolve your claim. You need someone working on your behalf that has your best interest as the top priority.
Our Miami personal injury law firm offers free consultations, so it does not cost you anything to receive legal advice about an injury claim. Additionally, our lawyers are paid with contingency fees.
Therefore, you do not pay anything upfront to hire us. We do not receive any attorneys’ fees until we recover money for your claim.
File an Insurance Claim
You begin your case by filing a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. The company assigns an insurance adjuster to investigate your claim.
The adjuster might make an early settlement offer. However, settlement offers made before you complete medical treatment or talk with a lawyer are typically lower than the value of your case.
Therefore, you should always talk with an attorney before accepting a settlement offer. You want to ensure you are not being cheated out of the money you deserve for an injury claim.
Investigation and Gathering Evidence
When you hire a personal injury attorney to handle your case, your attorney conducts an independent investigation. Key steps your attorney takes during this phase of your case include:
- Determine the cause of the accident or injury
- Identify all potential defendants
- Retain expert witnesses to assist with the case, if necessary
- Document damages and calculate the value of the claim
More than one party could be liable for your damages. So, it is important to carefully examine all evidence to identify each source of potential compensation for damages. This step increases the chance you receive maximum compensation for your case.
A thorough investigation is also crucial because you have the burden of proving causation and fault. If you cannot prove the other party caused your injury, you cannot recover damages.
Damages for a personal injury case include economic damages, such as lost wages and medical bills. It also includes compensation for your pain and suffering or non-economic damages.
Prepare and Send a Settlement Demand Letter
After you complete medical care and your doctor states you have reached maximum medical improvement, it is time to prepare a settlement demand letter. The letter is an offer to settle your case for a specific amount. Experienced personal injury lawyers use demand letters to present a strong case for settlement versus legal action.
The demand letter explains the facts of the case. The attorney discusses the legal reasons why the other party is responsible for your damages. The letter also outlines your damages and includes an amount you demand to settle your claim.
Negotiate a Settlement Agreement
The insurance company reviews your settlement demand. The company could accept the settlement offer and pay you the amount you demand. It could also decline the offer or make a counteroffer.
Most insurance companies make a counteroffer for a lower amount. This step begins settlement negotiations. Your attorney and the insurance company might make several counteroffers as they discuss the merits of the case.
If you accept a settlement offer from the insurance company, the company issues a check payable to your lawyer. You sign a settlement agreement waiving your right to pursue a lawsuit or legal action regarding your claim.
Most personal injury cases end with a settlement agreement. However, if the insurance company refuses to negotiate in good faith, the only option might be filing a lawsuit.
File a Lawsuit for a Personal Injury Claim
The Florida statute of limitations sets deadlines for filing personal injury lawsuits. Your attorney carefully monitors the deadline when negotiating a settlement. If the case does not settle, your attorney files the lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires.
Filing a Complaint and Responsive Pleadings
You are the plaintiff in the lawsuit. The parties who caused your injury are the defendants.
The lawsuit begins when your lawyer files a complaint with the civil court and serves it on all defendants. The defendants have a specific number of days to file an answer or other responsive pleadings.
During the discovery phase, your attorney gathers additional evidence and information from the other parties. Tools used for discovery include:
- Requests to Produce
- Requests for Admissions
The other party also engages in discovery. This step allows both sides to get a better idea of the strengths and weaknesses of the other party’s case.
Discovery is a crucial part of the lawsuit process because the parties have more information about the case. Having more information can help encourage settlement.
The parties might engage in mediation to settle the lawsuit. Judges often encourage the parties to engage in settlement negotiations.
The parties file various motions before trial. The motions relate to legal issues for the judge to decide.
During the trial, the plaintiff presents their evidence first, followed by the defendant. The jurors are the triers of fact. They decide what evidence to believe when they debate whether the plaintiff proved the legal requirements to win their case.
Verdict and Appeals
The jurors issue a verdict. If the verdict is for the plaintiff, the jurors also decide how much money to award for damages. Either party can appeal the verdict if they believe they have a legal reason for filing the appeal.
Should I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit or Accept a Settlement Offer?
Filing a lawsuit does not guarantee you will receive money for your claim. Our experienced personal injury lawyers weigh all options and discuss the pros and cons of a trial versus settlement with you.
You decide whether to accept a settlement or file a lawsuit. However, we will provide sound legal advice and guidance to help you decide what is best for you. The goal is to put as much money as possible in your pocket when your case is resolved.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Miami Personal Injury Lawyers
The legal team at Shaked Law Personal Injury Lawyers is here to help you when you need trusted legal advice and representation. We diligently work to get you the money you deserve after an accident or injury. Call our law firm to schedule a free consultation at (305) 937-0191 with an experienced Miami personal injury attorney.