How Personal Injury Claims Work, From Beginning to End


If you have been injured in an accident, you have likely considered filing a personal injury claim. However, these claims can be confusing and intimidating, particularly if you have never been involved in a lawsuit. 

Understanding what to expect during a lawsuit can make the process less overwhelming. That is why The Wakeford Law Firm has put together the following roadmap to personal injury claims. Keep reading to learn how personal injury cases work and what occurs during these lawsuits.

The Injury Occurs

You can file a civil lawsuit for many reasons, but you may only file a personal injury case if you have been injured because of someone else’s action or inaction. Common examples of injuries that may provide grounds for a lawsuit include:

  • Car accident injuries such as whiplash, broken bones, and burns
  • Concussions, sprains, and broken bones caused by slip-and-fall accidents
  • Injuries suffered during a physical assault
  • Dog bites because of an owner’s carelessness
  • Harm caused by a defective or dangerous product
  • Food poisoning from a restaurant’s inadequate hygiene

Retaining an Attorney

After you have been physically harmed, the first step in the legal process is to consult with a skilled attorney. Your lawyer will guide you through the rest of the process. They are there to provide you with legal advice, file your claim, communicate with the court and insurance on your behalf, and argue your case. 

Retaining an attorney with significant experience in cases like yours is in your best interest. While every case is unique, an attorney with a background in brain injuries or motorcycle accidents, for example, will have greater familiarity with the laws and precedents surrounding those types of claims.

Determining Liability 

Your attorney will listen to your case and help you determine who may be liable for your injuries. They will identify whether someone was:

  • Negligent: If someone has a duty of care to you and does not fulfill it, they may be negligent. For example, a restaurant is usually considered to have a duty of care to provide customers with safe food. If they ignore standard food safety laws, they are negligent and may be liable for your food poisoning.
  • Reckless: When someone purposefully does something unsafe and puts another person at risk, they are being reckless. This includes actions like deliberately speeding on residential roads or hitting someone in the face out of anger. 

Whether someone is negligent or reckless, they may still be liable if their behavior caused you harm.

Filing Your Claim

Once your attorney has identified the potentially liable parties, they will help you file your claim. This typically begins by sending liable parties a demand letter regarding your grievances and requested damages. 

The case will enter pre-litigation if the recipient does not agree to pay damages. At this stage, your attorney will submit a formal complaint with the court on your behalf. 

Performing Discovery

Once the complaint is filed, both you and the defendant can perform discovery. This is the process of collecting information about the incident. Your attorney will submit requests for evidence with the defendant, and the opposing counsel will request information from you. You may be required to provide testimony, medical records, police reports, and other critical details clarifying the case.

Negotiation or Litigation

Most personal injury cases never reach trial. Instead, victims and insurance companies negotiate to achieve a settlement that satisfies both parties. This is more efficient and allows victims to receive just compensation in less time without the stress of going to court. 

However, if negotiation fails, litigation is necessary, and your lawsuit will go to trial. The judge and potentially a jury will hear both sides of the case and observe the evidence. After your attorney and the defense counsel have fully presented their arguments, the judge or jury will decide whether the defendant is liable. If so, they will also decide what damages to award you. The complete trial process often takes months, so settlements are often the preferred course of action.

Consult With Our Skilled Personal Injury Lawyers

At The Wakeford Law Firm, our expert attorneys are prepared to represent you during your injury claim. We will answer your questions about how personal injury cases work and explain what to expect during personal injury claims. Schedule your consultation today to discuss your needs with our Marin County attorneys and learn how we can help you pursue an injury insurance settlement or lawsuit.

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