How to File a Personal Injury Claim
If you have suffered a personal injury which was caused by someone else's negligence, an intentional wrong or by a company's defective product an attorney who specializes in personal injury law may be able to help answer your questions and file your personal injury case. If you have been injured, taking immediate action can ensure that you do not lose the opportunity to file an injury claim and receive compensation or payment for your loss. Hopefully this article helps you understand your questions like, "how do i file a personal injury claim" and more. If you have more questions, please visit our accident and injury questions page.
You may be entitled to file a personal injury claim against that person and recover damages for the following:
- Past, current and future medical costs
- Past and future lost income
- Property damage
- Cost of hiring help to perform tasks that you are no longer able to perform
- Permanent disfigurement or disability expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Any other costs directly related to your injury
7 steps Towards Filing Your Personal Injury Claim
Immediate Actions to Take After a Personal Injury:
- Document the facts of the case - Immediately document how the injury occurred and gather the names, addresses and phone numbers of all witnesses. Make sure you have information about the police officers who were at the scene.
- Keep records of your expenses - Not only should you write down what happened at the accident, you should also keep documentations to support any expenses you have including your medical bills, lost wages and hospital visits.
- Gather insurance information - Make sure you have the name, address and phone number of the defendant's insurance company.
- Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer - Even if you have an excellent claim and proof of your injuries, insurance companies may not always be willing to offer a fair settlement. Personal injury lawyers can review the accident and determine if you have a sound case. Do not make any written or verbal statements to insurance companies prior to talking to your attorney.
- Take steps to protect the evidence - Unfortunately, evidence deteriorates with the passage of time. Take pictures of the accident scene or injuries you have sustained. Keep any clothing you were wearing or damaged property. To win a personal injury claim you will need evidence of damage, injury or loss. Personal injury lawyers understand injury laws and can work with you to make sure that the evidence has been properly preserved.
- File a timely claim - All personal injury claims must be filed within a specified time. Filing after the statute of limitations will make it difficult to receive payments for your loss or injuries. If you are planning to file suit against an individual or entity you should also notify them of your intention. Giving notice does not force you to file an injury claim, but it will preserve your rights to do so and will eliminate any claims that the defendants were not aware of your injuries or that you did not tell them of your intentions to seek compensation through an injury claim.
- Submit complete documentation - If you have hired a personal injury lawyer, you may have to submit documentation or the attorney may be able to collect it. Documentation you will need for your personal injury claim can include: medical records pertaining to the accident, a police report, and eye witness accounts of the accident which corroborate your testimony. Personal injury lawyers also can help hire experts, especially in a medical malpractice claim, who can provide testimony to support your medical malpractice case.
How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Claim?
The length of time you have to file a personal injury claim is called the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations will vary depending on the type of case and the personal injury laws of your state. Talk to a personal injury lawyer for more information about state law. Filing within the statute of limitations is very important; failing to do so may eliminate your right to recover payment for your personal injuries.
Filing a claim against the Federal Government for personal injuries
Suing the Federal Government for injury caused by the negligent conduct of a Federal Agency or employee will not be as easy as filing a personal injury lawsuit against a private citizen, but certain lawsuits may be brought against federal employees under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).
What is FTCA?
FTCA was created to allow for injured parties to receive monetary compensation for death, property loss or personal injury which was "caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee of the Government." There are many steps to filing an injury claim against the Federal Government and there are strict time limits. The first step is to file an "administrative claim" with the appropriate federal agency.
Specific requirements are numerous, but generally include the following:
- FTCA allows only federal employees to be sued. This does not include independent contractors hired by the government, unless the government treats them as employees
- The negligent or wrongful conduct must have been done within the scope of the defendant's employment
- Generally, injury claims must be claims of negligence. Intentional misconduct claims may be prosecuted in a different manner.
- The laws of the state where the misconduct occurred must permit the claim.
All FTCA administrative claims must be filed within two years from the date of the injury.
Most claims must be filed first with the appropriate federal agency. The proper forms must be submitted with your administrative claim and you must provide sufficient facts to support your case as well as the amount of money you are seeking to recover.
The federal agency will review your administrative claim within 6 months and make a ruling.
If the federal agency rules in your favor and admits your claim, you do not have to go to court but will receive the compensation you were requesting.
If the case is denied by the federal agency and you are not paid the requested damages, you have 6 months from the date of their decision to file your injury lawsuit. Do not wait to file your claim or you may lose your chance for compensation.
If the federal agency has not made a ruling within 6 months, you can either choose to file a personal injury lawsuit in court or you can continue to wait for the ruling. The time limit to file a lawsuit will not expire until the agency has made a ruling.