When to Sue in a Personal Injury Case
Summary: While many personal injury cases settle without ever filing a lawsuit, it is important to understand that filing a lawsuit may be necessary to resolve your case. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you decide when is the right time to sue in order to protect your rights and potentially get the compensation you need.
While many personal injury cases settle without ever filing a lawsuit, it is important to understand that filing a lawsuit may be necessary to resolve your case. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you decide when is the right time to sue in order to protect your rights and potentially get the compensation you need.
You Have Uncovered Losses
In many personal injury cases, at least some of your losses may be covered by insurance. For example, your health insurance may cover your medical bills if you slip and fall. In a car accident case, your auto insurance company will pay for the damage to your vehicle. Unfortunately, insurance rarely covers all of your losses. All of your losses will be uncovered if you don’t have insurance. Unless you can come to some kind of agreement with the at-fault party, chances are that you will have to file a lawsuit to recover the compensation you may be entitled to receive.
Liability is in Dispute
There are also personal injury cases where the parties cannot agree who is at fault for the accident. Most of these cases are decided on a negligence basis, meaning that the issue is whether someone failed to act with reasonable care under the circumstances of their situation. As a result, the other party may claim that they took every precaution they could and that the accident was totally unforeseeable. In other cases, the other party may claim that you were partially at fault. If you and the other party cannot agree as to who’s at fault in the accident, then you may have to file a lawsuit in order to resolve the issue.
The Value of Your Claim is in Dispute
In some cases, liability is obvious, and everyone agrees that the other party is responsible for the accident. Unfortunately, this may not be the end of your case. The other party may dispute the amount of your claim, arguing that the amount you believe you are entitled to is too high. Examples of how the other party may dispute the value of your case include:
- You sought and received medical treatment that was unnecessary.
- The accident aggravated pre-existing injuries, and therefore the other party is not responsible for the total value of your injury.
- You did not need to miss work.
- You have exaggerated your pain and suffering.
As an aside, this illustrates the importance of documenting your claim very carefully - it can be a tremendous help in proving the value of your claim. If you and the other party are too far apart on the value of your claim, you may need to file a lawsuit and have the issue decided by a neutral third party.
The Insurance Company Refuses to Settle for a Reasonable Amount
Many people are not eager to sue someone else, but the reality in most personal injury cases is that you’re really up against the other party’s insurance company. The insurer therefore decides how much will be paid on the claim, and they may refuse to settle your case for something beyond a token amount.
In other cases, the insurance company may refuse to compensate you because paying out on claims is bad for business. Believe it or not, insurance companies do deny claims in bad faith. Your only option in those cases may be to file a lawsuit. The good news is that you may be entitled to additional damages if you prevail.
The Statute of Limitations is Going to Expire
Every state has a deadline by which you must file your lawsuit, or you lose your rights. This deadline is referred to as the statute of limitations, and can vary depending on the nature of your claim. Every personal injury case has a deadline by which you must file your lawsuit. If you haven’t been able to resolve your case and the statute of limitations is about to expire, you may need to file a lawsuit to preserve your rights.
You May Not Have to Go to Trial
Many accident victims are reluctant to file a lawsuit because they are intimidated by the prospect of going to trial. However, simply filing the lawsuit may encourage the other party to settle in order to avoid the expense of litigation.
Jared Staver has been representing accident victims in the Chicago area since 2000. He is the founder of Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C., which has offices in Chicago, Aurora, Elgin, Hinsdale, Naperville, and Joilet and Waukegan. You can learn more about Jared Staver and his personal injury law firm by visiting their website.
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