Suffering the brunt of any accident—car crash, slip and fall, dog bite, defective product use—can truly be an unpleasant experience for any person involved. Such mishaps often result in injuries, thus requiring the victim to undergo necessary treatments in order to obtain full recovery. In serious cases, the victim may likely suffer long-term or even permanent disability, especially when the injuries are debilitating enough to have a drastic effect on every aspect of his or her life. Whatever the case may be, the victim and his or her family would not only have to shoulder medical bills and related expenses, but may also face the possibility of their lifestyle and relationships taking a 180-degree turn.

Fortunately, when it comes to matters concerning accidents, there are always the prevailing personal injury laws that help victims become aware of their rights. Basically, these laws dictate that an individual who was injured in an accident must be able to establish his or her claim in order to recover damages, and for this to happen, it is important to determine who was at fault.

Personal injury laws are governed by the legal theory of negligence, which is an important component in determining who was at fault in the accident. Here, the injured individual must be able to prove in his or her claim that the other party involved in the mishap, which could be another person or entity, was careless or negligent. Indeed, proving the negligence of the other party must hinge on the following key elements that must be included in the claim: (1) existence of duty of care, (2) breach of duty of care, (3) the occurrence of injuries following the accident, and (4) existence of resulting damages in relation to the injuries.

Of course, the end goal here is for the victim to recover compensation for the damages he or she incurred because of the negligence of the other party. But then, attaining that goal is not a walk in the park; just like any other legal procedure, the personal injury claims process is a complicated one to navigate, especially when putting into account certain laws and statutes.

In an effort to help people become aware of what they need to do should they decide to file personal injury claims following their involvement in accidents, here are some important things that they need to know about dealing with personal injury claims:

What are the processes involved?

Generally, personal injury claims of victims go through any of these two routes: out-of-court settlements and civil lawsuits. Both processes end with the victims being able to collect damages for the injuries and other losses they incurred. However, majority of the personal injury lawsuits, before they could even get to the trial phase of the legal process, are settled through out-of-court settlements. They arise when insurers or defendants (the negligent parties) make a payment offer toward the personal injury victims. In order to determine the amount of compensation that the victims may receive, it is important that they carry the burden of establishing proof. That is, victims must be able to support their personal injury claims with important evidence, including medical documents and statements from witnesses.

In the event negotiations stalled and no settlements were reached, or depending on the victims’ decision, suing the negligent parties and having the matter settled in court might be the best option. Taking their lawsuits to trial enables them to have an increased chance of receiving higher compensation, which is determined via jury verdict. Various factors, particularly on the personal and financial standpoints, as well as the extent of the accident, must be considered before going for the trial phase knowing that there are risks involved in settling for the said option.

How long do personal injury lawsuits take to settle?

This answer to this question distinguishes one of the glaring differences between out-of-court settlements and court trials. The latter doesn’t begin until more than a year from the filing of the initial personal injury claim. Obviously, there is the possibility of the negligent parties appealing their case, thus extending the case further even after personal injury victims have already obtained compensation.

It is for this reason that out-of-court settlements are much preferred over court trials. Basically, settlements are often less stressful and less burdensome than court trials. But then, negotiations may sometimes take a long time before both parties reach agreements. This is due to various factors, including legal or factual issues with regards the cases, a large sum of money involved, or victims not yet reaching maximum medical improvement. What is important, however, is that in settlements, victims are surely guaranteed of receiving compensation.

Meanwhile, if you have been injured in an accident and you believe another person or entity was responsible for your injuries, it is important that you consult first with a personal injury law firm so that you are well-informed on the processes you need to take in order to secure compensation. Should you decide to push through with your claim, especially if you have a valid one given your situation, then it would be best to select a law firm for your personal injury claim.

Why should you select a law firm for your personal injury claim? By obtaining the services of a reputable law group, you get to be assisted on the legal process that entails your claim, whether it is through an out-of-court settlement or a court trial. Also, the law firm, representing you as its client, will negotiate with the other party on your behalf, making sure that you obtain the most complete compensation that you deserve to cover for the injuries and losses you suffered because of your accident.