What to Consider Before Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you have suffered an injury due to another person or company’s negligence or reckless behavior, you may be considering filing a lawsuit to compensate you for your pain, suffering or medical expenses. Before you begin the long process of pursuing a personal injury lawsuit, there are a few key implications for you to consider.
1. Check the statute of limitations
Most personal injury claims have a statute of limitations. This is a period of time following the injury that you, the plaintiff, have to bring a case against a responsible party. In practice, this means that if you are injured by a medical device or suffer a traumatic brain injury, you only have a set amount of time to file a lawsuit.
The statute of limitations can range from about one year to six years, depending on the state, but is typically around two to three years. If the statute of limitations has expired, you cannot file a lawsuit. However, most states allow extensions of the statute of limitations in situations where you were not aware of your injury until a later date. This is especially important for mesothelioma cases because mesothelioma often has a latency period of two or three decades.
2. Determine the responsible party
If the statute of limitations has not expired, you should then consider who you would sue. You may need professional medical or technical opinions to help you make this decision. For example, if you had a defective medical device, you need to determine whether the medical device company or the doctor is most likely at fault for your injury. Similarly, if you are seriously injured after your airbags fail to deploy, you will need to determine if the car manufacturer is likely responsible or if the auto body shop that repaired your car after a previous accident is at fault.
No matter who you file a case against, you will need a considerable amount of information and proof. As the plaintiff, the burden of proof lands on you and your legal team. As you seek medical attention for your injury, be sure to keep a record of all documents. Take pictures if possible and take notes at your doctor’s appointments.
3. Know that lawsuits take time
Lawsuits are not a short endeavor. It typically takes close to or more than a year to complete a lawsuit. During that time, you and your lawyer will need to develop a strong case and that will take up a significant amount of your time and energy. While your lawyer can help you stay on top of tasks, you will need to be fully engaged throughout this time and help your lawyer uncover specific documentation or other evidence.
4. Establish negligence or failure to exercise reasonable care
A key to every personal injury lawsuit is establishing negligence or failure to exercise reasonable care from the entity or person you are holding accountable for your injury. In other words, if the injury caused by a defective drug was listed as a known side effect on the medication, then it may be difficult to hold the pharmaceutical company accountable. Similarly, if you are injured by a driver who was driving according to road conditions, but lost control of their vehicle, it is unlikely that you will be able to hold that person accountable. In order to win your case, it needs to be clear that someone was actively hiding information from consumers or behaving in a negligent or reckless way.
5. Find a lawyer
If you have read this article and think you may have a case for personal injury, it is probably time to contact a lawyer. Many lawyers will offer a free consultation to determine if your case is a good match for their areas of practice. At James F. Humphreys & Associates, L.C., we will consult on your case for free and discuss your options. Call us today at 304-303-5510 or fill out our online contact form for more information.