How to File a Personal Injury Claim… and WIN!
Last updated Monday, August 28th, 2023
How to File a Personal Injury Claim
Have you or a loved one been injured due to someone else’s fault? Then filing a personal injury claim is probably on your radar. Wondering how to file a personal injury insurance claim? Don’t let the personal injury claim process intimidate you; just go step by step.
A personal injury lawyer can assist you too. Attorneys at Shuman Legal® understand the law and how to make it work for you. We answer questions like, “How are personal injury settlements paid out?” Our legal team fights to get you the maximum dollar amount.
Personal Injury Claim – The Nuts & Bolts
Before taking the time to file a claim, find out exactly what a personal injury is. Not every injured party is entitled to compensation. Filing a winning claim starts with knowing basic legal guidelines.
The term personal injury is broad; it simply means a person has suffered a physical or mental injury. Things change when the word, “claim,” is added. A personal injury claim indicates an injury occurred due to the fault of another.
Possible Scenario: Driver Z recklessly raced around and crashed into Driver A and Motorcyclist A. Did Driver Z sustain injuries because of someone else? No. So this driver is ineligible for compensation. However, Driver A and Motorcyclist A are rightful claimants; they did nothing wrong.
Think YOU Have a Case? Ask These Questions
Knowing how to file a personal injury insurance claim is only helpful if an injury meets legal criteria. This topic is vast. Asking some simple questions could be an easy way to see if your injury may qualify for compensation.
Questions about you:
• Are costly medical treatments needed?
• Do you need a long time to recover?
• Does injury stem from another’s negligence? Recklessness?
• Has the incident caused financial strain?
• Have you missed work due to this injury?
• Is there evidence of lack of care or caution during the accident?
Questions about a loved one:
• Did your loved one die because of someone else’s fault?
• Is your loved one handicapped because of accident injuries?
• Will your loved one need long-term care due to injury?
You could be eligible to seek legal compensation if you answered “yes,” to any of these questions. Still, have concerns about the personal injury claim process? Let an experienced attorney specializing in personal injuries clear things up for you.
Examples of a Winning Personal Injury Claim
Many of these types of injuries are common; they can happen in an instant. Everyday situations can become dangerous. While not every scenario is listed, see if your case is similar to any below.
• Wrongful Death
Dealing with the personal injury claim process becomes an entirely new level of overwhelming when you’ve lost a loved one because of someone else. Wrongful death cases are the most complicated and the most important for you to work with an experienced wrongful death attorney in Chicago. Let us take on the paperwork and stress so that you can focus on the needs of you and your family.
• Car or Semi Truck Accident
Cars, trucks, and semi-truck crashes are not rare. What’s the difference between a regular car wreck and one with personal injury claims? These are accidents that include clear injuries and clear Fault by one of the people involved. If you’re injured in a car or semi-truck accident because of another driver, then you need to file a personal injury claim to ensure you get the support that you need to make a full recovery.
• Motorcycle Accident
Getting hurt while riding a motorcycle because someone was negligent can cause some of the worst possible injuries. The same goes for getting hit by a motorcyclist. If you’ve been hurt because you were hit while riding your motorcycle or a motorcyclist has hit you – then you definitely have a personal injury case.
• Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
Improperly trained workers, lack of supervision, and overworked staff contribute to your loved ones not receiving the care, attention, and medical treatment they need. Neglect happens; so does abuse. If you think your loved one may have been abused, call Shuman Legal® and we’ll be happy to let you know if you have a case – no obligations + no cost!
• Injured on the Job or Workers Compensation
If injuries happen while doing work-related duties, then you can file a personal injury claim. Workers Compensation law is tricky because every state has different laws so this is a case when you should speak to an experienced attorney so they can ensure you get more than just lost wages and paid medical bills.
• Medical Malpractice
Wrong operations, improper medicating, infections, and surgical errors happen in hospitals. Medical professionals can misdiagnose serious conditions, and advise treatments that don’t work. Birth injuries also fall within this category.
• Premises Liability or Negligence
These injuries occur on another’s property because the property owners failed to maintain, secure, light, and/or clean the grounds. Clearly marked signs that warn of danger are also missing from the area. Typical examples include a heavy item hitting you in the head after falling from high above, getting assaulted due to lack of security, and swimming pool accidents.
• Slip and Fall Injury
When a property owner fails to keep visitors safe, there can be trips, slips, and falls. Snow and ice are often involved. Property owners are responsible for keeping the grounds clear. Other factors may be poorly maintained flooring, walkways, and parking lots.
• Airplane Accident
Pilot error, improperly maintained equipment or mechanical failure causes crashes and injuries. So after a plane crash, how are personal injury settlements paid out? Answers aren’t always simple, but a skilled lawyer can help.
• Product Failure
If something doesn’t work as it’s supposed to or even worse, causes health issues, you’ll want to find out how to file a personal injury claim. Anything from drugs to car parts may not work as promised. Some manufacturers may skip steps to go to market. Others may ignore red flags. Not enough testing, failure to recall a product known to be defective and flawed designs are common with these types of personal injuries.
• Big Bite or Animal Attack
Most of the time, dogs are the focus of this event, but exotic pets can also be to blame. When injuries occur, it’s not the animals that are legally responsible- it’s their owners. When an injury occurs because pet owners fail to control their animals, a personal injury claim can be filed.
• Boating Accident
Swimmers, boaters, sunbathers, and passengers could get hurt in a boat crash. Boat captains, helmsmen, or faulty equipment could be blamed. If you’ve been injured by a boat, look into how to file a personal injury insurance claim.
Personal Injury Claim Process
Complex? Yes. Confusing? Yes. Impossible? No. Filing a winning claim for personal injuries is no cakewalk, but it can be done. Follow the steps below. Don’t rush. If there’s a disconnect, get help from a reputable wrongful attorney.
Before any money can be awarded, injuries must be recorded. Get checked out even if you feel okay after an incident. Don’t play doctor; go to a medical professional. Request records that show how bad injuries are.
All injuries are not equal. Two people may suffer the exact same broken wrist. One person can heal quickly due to age, genetics, and lifestyle. Another person’s wrist may need surgery. Why? He is in his mid-fifties; his wrist’s health was already in decline from a lifetime of painting houses.
Provide supporting documents that explain why you’re asking for a specific amount of cash. Then you can begin a proper treatment schedule while backing your claim.
Speak at length about your injuries. Ask questions. How long will it take to recover? What types of treatment are available? Is surgery an option? Ask for written treatment plans. Save invoices.
2. Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
Maybe you want to handle things on your own. That’s totally fine. But there’s no need to throw away an opportunity that could get you more money- way more money.
Shuman Legal® will review your case for free. A few minutes of professional advice could turn a tidy sum into a massive settlement. Learn how we overcome potential complications.
We’ll admit when it’s better if you navigate the personal injury claim process alone. Some cases result in only minor injuries. An advanced legal degree may not be necessary to file such a claim.
3. Provide the Tip-Off
Notify the involved parties you were injured in said accident, and a claim will be filed. The notification letter should include your contact information, accident specifics, and the date when written.
Don’t discuss blame or how badly you were hurt. Never mention a dollar amount. Request a reply in writing. Working with a lawyer? The law firm can take care of this step, even if one of the parties is a huge corporation.
Keep an exact copy of what you’ll be sending. Mail a copy to each party involved in the accident.
4. Collect Quotes
If personal property was damaged during the incident, get at least three bids. Written quotes should break down repair costs of labor and materials. Such estimates can be for vehicles, boats, bicycles, and more.
5. File the Claim
It may be necessary to file a claim with both your insurance company as well as the responsible party’s insurance company. Not sure which companies to file with? Ask an attorney for guidance.
6. Gather Facts
Insurance companies may appoint an insurance adjuster to review your claim. This person looks for flaws in claims and determines validity. Filing a winning personal injury claim could come down to this step.
Pull out invoices, receipts, and estimates. Provide documentation of injuries. Supply last year’s W-2 or paystubs that prove how much money you could be making if not injured.
Share a written account of the accident and photos from the scene. Provide a police report if applicable. Show any proof of how another person was negligent, careless, or reckless.
7. Send a Demand Letter
Looking to get a settlement? Send one of these letters to start negotiations. This letter goes to the insurance company of the party at fault.
Explain how the policyholder is responsible for the accident and/or injuries. Describe all of your injuries, how bad they are and the treatment received. Reveal the cost of lost income. Mention any pain and suffering.
End the letter with a demand for a specific dollar amount you want the company to pay. Keep in mind that this amount is just the starting number. Insurance companies will only decrease this amount, but you don’t want to appear unrealistic. Determining a sensible amount is key.
Not a fan of writing? You’re in luck. Personal injury attorneys are skilled in the art of such correspondence.
Now the back and forth begins. What does the insurance company think your injury is worth if settling out of court? Will you accept this amount?
Know what dollar amount you can live with, and how much it could take to fully recover. A settlement figure can be reached this way.
9. File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If an agreement cannot be reached on a fair settlement amount, the case could go to trial. It is usually beneficial for both you and the insurance company to accept a settlement, but it’s not always possible.
You can share evidence that supports your case in court. Witnesses can tell accounts. An experienced lawyer can argue on your behalf to get the right amount of compensation.
Legal Tip: Never accept a settlement without consulting an attorney. Accepting the first offer can cost you thousands! Insurance companies usually say offers expire by a certain date; ignore this scare tactic.
Want to Win Damages? Avoid This One Costly Mistake
THE NUMBER ONE WAY TO LOSE A PERSONAL INJURY CASE IS TO TRY AND REPRESENT YOURSELF. The average person does not have the education, experience, or skill needed to prove a case, let alone get top compensation.
If you are a total whiz, this plan could actually backfire. Appearing well-spoken and competent may make you look like you don’t need a large compensation package.
Why it Pays to Hire a Lawyer
Still, considering going to court alone? Before deciding, understand that Shuman Legal® attorneys are skilled in the following:
• Claimant Statements
When defending yourself, it’s hard to separate your job (acting attorney) from yourself. Emotions may bubble to the surface, but a trial is all about facts.
It’s easy to blurt out your feelings or say something that can be used against you. The people, court setting, and need for things to go right can be too much pressure. Worrying about what to say and what not to say causes stress.
Your attorney keeps you out of the line of fire. Lawyers know statements can get twisted in a courtroom. Part of how your attorney fights for you is coaching you on what to say and how to say it for the best outcome.
The average personal injury court case requires many documents. The complaint, or petition, lists case details. A summons alerts the defendant about the case being filed. Defendants may respond with defense strategies or even file a counterclaim.
Other types of court paperwork may include briefs and motions. Every document must be written and submitted in a specific way to be accepted. There are also rigid deadlines.
Lawyers have made it their life’s work to know all about these documents. Retaining an attorney means you benefit from all this knowledge.
Pleading a case during a trial is not as glamorous as it appears on TV. Winning a case can’t be done unless all the rules are followed. Courts have specific rules and procedures that must be observed.
Rulings may not go in a claimant’s favor because proper procedure wasn’t followed. Could you learn all of the rules and procedures for your court case? Possibly. Would this effort eat up valuable time? Absolutely!
Ask yourself, “Is it worth attempting this route when an easier way can yield better results?” Attorneys know how courts operate. These professionals can concentrate on fighting for your rightful compensation instead of reviewing procedures.
• Your Best Interest
Think your case is a slam dunk in court? Consider this: even the best cases can be lost over silly mistakes, improper filings, and procedural errors. The defendant’s legal team may trip you up on points your attorney could easily handle.
Expert witnesses and investigators can help win that high compensatory award. A law firm has these professionals at their disposal- all for you.
Time, effort, and costs may increase during a trial. An attorney has the resources to continue fighting for maximum compensation. Do you? Don’t you deserve the best representation?
How Much Money Can You Save by Filing a Claim Yourself?
Don’t let costs stop you from retaining an attorney. A reputable lawyer at Shuman Legal can take your case on a contingency basis. You pay nothing until you are compensated.
Consider this scenario. Bob and Angie were both similarly injured in car accidents by someone else’s negligence. After waiting for what seemed like forever for a trial date, Bob represented himself in court and won $75,000. Bob spent countless hours preparing for court when he could have been recovering.
Angie hired an attorney and also won- a $650,000 settlement. Angie didn’t even have to go to court because her attorney settled things faster. After paying attorney’s fees, she still had hundreds of thousands of dollars more than Bob.
Still, think saving money on attorney’s fees is worth the cost? Bob doesn’t.
How Are Personal Injury Settlements Paid Out?
Congrats! You won a settlement! But how are personal injury settlements paid out? If receiving a lump sum payment, a check is typically made out to you or the law firm. Expect this check anywhere from two to eight weeks from the agreement date.
The payout will be different if receiving a structured settlement or minor conservatorship. Such payment schedules are usually arranged ahead of time and can vary widely. If need be, your attorney can advise you on which type of payment works best for you and why.
I Won My Personal Injury Settlement; Now What?
It can be exciting planning how to spend that large settlement, but there are other factors in play. Taxes may need to be paid. This money may need to cover long-term care or future medical issues. Shuman Legal can connect you with a financial planner who can help.
Exactly how are personal injury settlements paid out? Just ask your attorney any specific questions.
Paying Uncle Sam
Are personal injury claims taxed in Illinois? Yes and no. If the type of settlement received is compensatory then, no. The state sees this settlement as you getting money in an attempt to make you whole, not a new sum of cash.
If the settlement is awarded for punitive damages, this cash is new and taxable. This money is awarded to punish the responsible party for acting in a way that caused your injuries. Plan ahead to pay applicable taxes.
Receive a settlement that combines both punitive and compensatory damages? Expect the amount awarded in punitive damages to be taxed.
Using Arbitration in a Personal Injury Claim
Even though you understand how to file a personal injury claim, you decide to hire a personal injury attorney. Smart thinking! But how can arbitration factor into the personal injury claim process?
Arbitration is a way to settle a dispute without going to trial. Both parties involved in the personal injury claim agree to let a neutral third party decide the award amount. The ruling in an arbitration hearing is final and legally binding.
An arbitration hearing is like a small claims trial, with the arbitrator acting as the judge in charge of deciding. Many arbitrators have amassed experience, as they are retired lawyers or judges.
Why Choose Arbitration?
Many parties may grow impatient as the personal injury claim process can drag on for what may seem like forever. If no personal injury settlement is reached, going to court can be time-consuming before ever stepping foot in the courtroom.
First, you wait for a trial date. Then multiple continuances can occur. Dealing with these and other delays can be difficult. You just wanted to know how to file a personal injury insurance claim; now it’s many months later.
That unfortunate scenario doesn’t happen with arbitration; see why it’s a popular option. Big companies also favor arbitration over lengthy court battles.
Are Attorneys Needed for Personal Injury Claim Arbitration?
An arbitration hearing can be more casual than a courtroom setting. The format may be less intimidating. You may be tempted not to use a lawyer.
Don’t be fooled by the lack of formality. There are still procedures and legal standards to follow. Anyone without in-depth knowledge of this legal process can be left at a severe disadvantage here.
While not required for arbitration, retaining an attorney for this process is strongly advised. When you have a chance to win compensation, shouldn’t you give it your best shot? An accomplished attorney has the skills to get you the compensation you deserve.
Court or Arbitration?
Asking some important questions can help you decide between an arbitration hearing and a trial.
• Are you decisive? Once you and the other party agree to arbitration, that’s it. There’s no changing your mind to opt for a trial instead.
• Can you accept any decision? Avenues for appeals aren’t plentiful in arbitration. Can you respect the outcome so that you can move on?
• Do you mind putting your life on hold for a potentially larger award? Arbitration awards can be substantially less than what could be awarded in court. However, levels of emotional distress can also be much less.
• Do you want the world to know what you came away with? Damages awarded in arbitration are strictly confidential. Trials? Not so much.
• Is the opposing party likely to pay? If the opposing party fails to pay damages you were awarded in arbitration, the agreement must be enforced through the court.
• Is time a factor? Arbitration hearings resolve cases much quicker than even the fastest trials do. Time-consuming appeals can eat up time in a trial, but these are limited in arbitration hearings.
• Want to be part of choosing decision makers? Arbitration participants work together to choose their tribunal of arbitrators. You may feel empowered knowing you helped select an impartial third party.
• Would you like to simplify things? Less paperwork and proceedings make arbitration the clear winner here. Trials tend to get bogged down with details, whereas arbitration hearings don’t.
• Would you prefer a jury? Trials have juries; arbitration hearings don’t. Juries often lean toward personal injury victims, favoring them over corporations.
Legal Tip: Some cases require an arbitration hearing. Filing a first-party claim with your own car insurance company may state the need for arbitration. Such arbitration clauses commonly settle disputes between the party filing a personal injury claim and the insurance company.
Workers’ Compensation vs. Personal Injury
Understanding the basics of how to file a personal injury claim could become tricky if you were injured at work. The first step to a successful claim file can be deciding which of these routes to take. Note the main differences below.
A personal injury claimant can receive damages for physical, emotional, and mental pain. Workers’ compensation only compensates you for actual losses.
Your employer’s insurance company determines a set amount for your loss in a workers’ compensation claim. Estimates may include coverage for lost wages and past medical bills.
How are personal injury settlements paid out? Receiving a winning personal injury settlement can mean being compensated more…much more. Depending on the case, you may even ask for punitive damages.
When determining which type of claim to file, consider who is at fault. Even more importantly, can you prove who is at fault? Knowing how to file a personal injury claim comes with the understanding that you must prove who is at fault for your injury.
You can successfully file a workers’ compensation claim without proving anyone is at fault. If you were doing some type of work-related activity when injured, you can file this claim. You can still receive workers’ compensation even if you were at fault, providing you were sober at the time of the incident.
Thinking about how to file a personal injury insurance claim when injured at work? Then you’ll need to provide evidence, testimonies, and/or witnesses to back your claim that someone else was to blame. If there is little to no concrete proof of another’s negligence, you face a losing battle.
How to file a personal injury claim is different than filing a workers’ compensation claim. The first step in filing a workers’ compensation claim is alerting your employer. Complete required forms and submit. Then wait for the insurance company to determine what they feel you are owed.
Disagree with your employer’s insurance company’s decision? Your best bet is to contact an attorney with experience in workers’ compensation claims. This professional can advise you to help prepare an appeal for better compensation.
Knowing how to file a personal injury claim can begin by contacting the Illinois civil court. Typically, you can file a complaint against the defendant, which kicks off the lawsuit. Note that you can file the case directly against the responsible party, who may or may not be your employer.
Once the lawsuit is in full swing, the road to a successful claim may encounter many twists and turns. A settlement, arbitration hearing, or courtroom trial may occur before the personal injury claim process is done. Ensure this long bumpy road ends in success; hire an attorney.
How to File a Personal Injury Claim… and Win - Closing Thoughts
Want to know how to file a personal injury insurance claim? Still wondering, how are personal injury settlements paid out? While the personal injury claim process can be tough, it doesn’t have to be!
Let a personal injury attorney from Shuman Legal lighten your load. You have enough to face without worrying about how to file a personal injury insurance claim. Our professional team of litigators gets results. We win settlements. We get you compensated. We get you justice. Let us win your personal injury claim!