Last week in the Legal Corner, we began our discussion on personal injury matters, including the amount of time allowed to file a lawsuit against the responsible party. This week, we will focus more on the process and stages of handling and resolving personal injury cases.
Personal injury cases involve automobile accidents, medical malpractice, wrongful death, slip and fall, workers’ compensation and product liability. The more common and familiar cases are automobile accidents, slip and fall and workers’ compensation.
Wrongful death matters involve situations where an individual dies as a result of another person’s negligence. Most wrongful death matters may also be a result of automobile accidents and medical malpractice. In wrongful death cases, the negligent or responsible party will be legally responsible to the estate of the victim or the deceased. This means if the court finds that the responsible party was negligent in their actions, any damages awarded will be provided to the deceased victim’s family.
Product liability matters occur when an individual is injured as a result of an unsafe or defective product. The law requires that products are safe and free from any defect before consumers are allowed to use or purchase them. Some examples of product liability include cases where vehicles are recalled because of defective parts, or certain foods are recalled because they are unsafe or toys are recalled because they are designed incorrectly and unsafe for children.
When these type of incidents occur, any injuries that consumers may have experienced prior to a formal recall could result in a product liability lawsuit. Generally, the company that manufactures the product or the company that distributed the product is liable for any injuries.
Once the victim experiences any one of the injuries previously described and has sought any necessary medical attention, the next step is to determine if their individual case is a result of negligence. If it is determined that the victim’s injury is a result of negligence, then the first step in the process is to file the proper documents in court and provide the responsible party with proper notice of the lawsuit.
After the responsible party has been given proper notice and allowed an opportunity to respond to the claims, both parties will be allowed to obtain information from each other in order to support the facts of the case. Once, both parties have been allowed to gather and exchange information pertaining to the incident, the case will usually proceed to trial.
In some cases, a jury will be allowed to determine if the responsible party was negligent and therefore required to pay damages to the victim. When the court has entered a final decision or judgment, an order is created to document the final decision and is provided to both parties. In some cases, if the responsible party is found to be negligent, they may choose to enter a notice of appeal to the court.
Additionally, in some instances, both parties may be able to enter into a settlement agreement without the use of the court or a trial. A settlement agreement usually includes both parties negotiating through legal representation and ultimately reaching some form of an agreement.
After all the specific terms of the settlement have been agreed upon, the details of the agreement are written down for both parties to review and sign. A settlement agreement involves the responsible or negligent party paying a specified amount of money to the injured party. A settlement agreement is considered a contract and therefore, if a party chooses not to comply, they could still be held legally responsible.
Please remember that this information is only meant to inform our readers. This article does not include all of the detailed information and procedures related to filing personal injury claims or lawsuits. If you have any additional questions about a potential personal injury claim or the process and requirements for filing a personal injury lawsuit, please contact a local attorney.
As always: Be informed. Be prepared.
Bellonora McCallum is an attorney at the McCallum Law Firm, PLLC, in Rockingham. Reach her at 910-730-4064 or visit www.mccallumlawfirm.com.