No one leaves their home in the morning expecting to be injured, but the truth is that it is a dangerous world out there. You put yourself at a little bit of risk whenever you step out into it. That’s just life.
Injuries and accidents are more common than ever in our fast-paced world. These injuries have the potential to totally disrupt your life, taking you away from work, family, and saddling you with all-too-expensive medical bills.
If you’ve been injured as the result of another’s negligence, it’s important that you take quick action. Filing a personal injury claim is a must if you hope to protect yourself and the stability of your future. How do you go about taking this kind of legal action?
Read on and we’ll walk you through everything that you need to know.
When Can You File a Personal Injury Claim?
Accidents happen, but not every accident will be grounds for a lawsuit. Certain legal elements need to be in place for another individual to be held liable for your injuries and the costs associated with them.
The main legal concept you need to understand is that of negligence. When a person acts negligently, it means that they have failed to act with a reasonable amount of care towards others.
There’s a lot of examples of negligence out there.
A person who ran a red light and ended up hitting another vehicle could be negligent. A business owner who failed to repair potentially dangerous elements of their business property could be negligent. A medical professional who didn’t take reasonable care when operating on a patient could be found to be negligent.
Anywhere where a person failed to live up to the expected social contract of society, negligence can be found. If a person cannot be found negligent, you might not be able to bring a lawsuit forward.
For example, what if you injured yourself on a business’ property but they could prove that they had no awareness or reasonable time to discover the issue that caused your injury? You might not be able to bring a lawsuit forward against them.
These kinds of discussions about negligence can get complicated quickly, so it’s always best to speak with an attorney to determine how strong of a case you might have.
Filing a Complaint
If you do seem to have the grounds for a personal injury claim, the first thing you’ll want to do is to file a complaint with the courts.
A complaint is essentially a formal legal document that outlines the legal basis for your lawsuit. It argues that you have a case against another person or entity and lays out the legal basis.
Your signature or your attorney’s signature will need to be at the bottom.
In many places around the country, you’ll also need to file a summons in addition to your complaint. A summons is a document that identifies the person or entity that you’re bringing your lawsuit against and explains to them that they are being sued.
In layman’s terms, it’s a notification sent to the person you’re attempting to bring to court letting them know that you are doing so.
There will likely be a filing fee for submitting both the summons and the complaint. The cost of this fee will depend on where you are filing and the precise type of lawsuit you are bringing forward.
Understanding the Statute of Limitations
The timeline in which you submit your lawsuit matters greatly. You must submit within that statute of limitations, which is a law that limits the amount of time that may pass before a lawsuit must be filed.
In Florida, the statute of limitations allows a lawsuit to be brought forward four years after the initial date of the accident but no longer. This is a much larger window of time than most states allow.
If the accident that you want to bring a lawsuit forward for happened more than four years ago, however, you will have great difficulty in obtaining justice. You will be barred from bringing the case forward to court unless some special circumstance occurs.
Response From the Defendant
After your summons and complaint make it to the defendant, they will have a set amount of time to respond to your claim. They can respond in one of two ways.
They can file an answer to your complaint with the courts, in which they respond to each assertion you put forward in your initial paperwork. They can admit to or deny certain claims that you’ve made.
They can also file a motion to dismiss. This is common in instances where the defendant believes that you have no legal ground to bring this case forward. The court will take a look at the documents and consider this motion. If they grant it, the court can choose to throw out your entire case. They might also throw out just a small portion of it.
If the case isn’t thrown out, the process of working through the lawsuit will begin, with each side working with their own personal injury lawyer.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim in Florida
If you’ve been injured as the result of another person’s negligence, it’s important to take your next steps quickly and with great seriousness. Filing a personal injury claim doesn’t have to be difficult and the above information can help you sort through the process.
Need more help with your case? Give us a call anytime for assistance.