How to File a Personal Injury Claim in Cleveland August 28, 2012.
Being injured as a result of someone else’s carelessness can be frustrating as you deal with mounting medical bills, healthcare costs, and car repairs. Filing a personal injury lawsuit can help recover money you lost as a result of paying these bills and missing work after your accident.
It’s important to consult a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident, because Ohio has a two-year statute of limitations on personal injury claims. That means, if you’re planning to file a claim, you only have two years from the date of the injury to do so. It’s imperative to begin your claim as soon as possible, since they often take a long time to resolve.
Investigation and Filing the Claim
The investigation phase has two parts: information gathering from you and your attorney’s search for more information. First, your attorney will interview you to acquire all the details of the accident, injury and your subsequent treatment.
The attorney typically will ask you:
- to describe what happened;
- to give the names of any witnesses who may have seen the accident; and
- to detail your medical prognosis.
After this, your lawyer will conduct his or her own investigation, interviewing any witnesses of the accident and ensuring their accounts are clear and fresh. Your attorney will visit the scene of the wreck to look for any evidence and will look at your car or other property to assess damages.
After all the information has been gathered, it is time to file the paperwork of your personal injury case. You’ll file what’s called a "complaint" or "petition;" this essentially notifies the defendant and the court that a lawsuit is being filed.
A complaint or petition will outline:
- the parties involved;
- the legal claims; and
- the damages being asked and more.
It’s important that your Cleveland personal injury attorney file it for you; if there is a mistake in the way it is filed, it could cost your case valuable time.
The discovery phase happens when the formal investigation and preparation of your case begins, with your lawyer pulling together any evidence to build your case:
- medical reports;
- insurance policies; and
- witness statements and more.
Expert witnesses may be arranged to testify on your behalf, and attorneys may request evidence from the defendant. Also, both parties in the personal injury case may be required take depositions, giving their official statements under oath, so that these can be built into the case as well.
Your Personal Injury Claim on Trial
If you so choose, your personal injury case can be resolved outside the courtroom. Parties can schedule an outside mediation to come to an agreement on the terms of the lawsuit, or they can negotiate through their lawyers to resolve the issue to both parties’ satisfaction. If an agreement is reached, this is called an out-of-court settlement, and no official trial is necessary.
If a settlement is not reached through mediation or negotiation, your Cleveland personal injury attorney will take your case to trial. In a courtroom, your attorney will try to prove the defendant’s level of fault in your injury, as well as detail the damages and monetary costs you’ve had to incur because of this injury. An attorney will use evidence, testimony and more to help you get compensation for the injury you sustained.
Once the trial has been completed, and both sides of the lawsuit have made their cases, the judge will deliver a verdict. This verdict will state who is at fault for the accident and injury (often it the fault is shared by both parties) and how much compensation is due to the plaintiff.
Are you considering filing a personal injury case? You’re not alone. Call (440) 333-3800 to speak to our Cleveland personal injury attorneys at Mellino Law Firm about your case today.