If you were recently injured due to the misconduct of another person, it is important to educate yourself on the process of filing a personal injury case.
How long a personal injury case takes depends on the specific circumstances involved.
If you feel you have a case, you should contact an attorney immediately to determine what to do next. Developing a strong case takes time, so contact an attorney quickly to make sure you get the best outcome following your accident.
Personal injury cases are civil law cases in which one person is wrongfully injured by the actions of another. Most personal injury cases are based on a legal theory called negligence. Proving negligence requires establishing four elements:
To demonstrate that an individual was negligent, you must prove that they owed you a duty, that they breached their duty, and that the breach caused you injury. Duty refers to a general, or specific, standard of care to act in a way that avoids harming others. The standard of care differs depending on the conduct at issue. Generally, a person must act the way that a reasonable person in similar circumstances would act.
If you were injured by the negligence of another person, then you should be able to obtain compensation for your injuries. Examples of accidents that can lead to a personal injury claim include automobile accidents, semi-truck accidents, dog bite injuries, slip and falls, wrongful death, and many other types of injury claims. Personal injury cases can go to trial, although they usually settle out of court.
The goal of bringing a personal injury suit is to win financial reimbursement, known as damages. Some of the damages that are available in Kentucky include:
Kentucky follows a pure comparative negligence model. Under this standard, your award will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you are found to be 60% at fault for the accident, you can receive 40% of your compensation. Unlike other states, Kentucky does not cap the amount of damages a person can receive for their injuries.
Financial compensation can’t undo the harm of a personal injury accident. However, recovering damages can be a monumental step in getting your life back on track.
Once you have made the decision to pursue a personal injury case, your attorney will send a demand to the opposing party.
This demand with medical records, bills, photographs of your accident is a starting point for settlement negotiations.
If these negotiations are unsuccessful, your attorney can offer pre litigation mediation or file a complaint in the court with jurisdiction. Most cases are settled prior to jury trial.
The Defendant then has 20 days to file an answer. After the answer is filed interrogatories and requests are served and answered by the parties. The next step is usually depositions where sworn statements are taken of the Defendant and Plaintiff (you), witnesses to the accident, expert witnesses such as accident reconstructionist along with your physicians. At some point in your case in Kentucky the judge will usually order mediation for the parties to sit down to negotiate a settlement.
This mediation is often successful and avoids a jury trial. If not, your case will be set for trial and it could take months before you actually have a jury trial. Therefore, it is always to your advantage to attempt to reach a reasonable settlement in your case. Our attorneys work hard to achieve this result and we have mediated countless cases for our clients.
If you’re wondering, how long does a personal injury case take? The answer is that it depends on the extent of the injuries, length of treatment, insurance available and liability. The average soft tissue case without surgery, fractures, or permanent injury at our law firm can resolve within three to six months after an accident.
In cases where there is permanent injury with minimal policy limits, we can often resolve the case even sooner. The cases where there are extensive medical expenses and adequate insurance such as with a commercial policy are the ones that may take longer. If it is a case that goes to court where suit is filed it can take one to two years or longer to resolve. Additional factors and how long your case is to take is as follows:
Settlement negotiations are ongoing throughout the life of a lawsuit. This means that your attorney will likely exchange settlement offers with the opposing party’s insurance company if there is not an attorney representing the insurance company and Defendant early in your case after you have completed your treatment or your case is valued in excess of the amount of the policy limits. If negotiations are successful, your case could settle within a few months.
The time allowed to file a lawsuit is determined by the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for a given case depends on the type of lawsuit, as well as the laws of the individual state. In Kentucky, the statute of limitations for personal injury suits, other than car accident cases, is one year if you are 18 years or older.
The statute does not begin to run if you are a minor until you reach the age of 18. This means that you have one year from the date of your accident to file your lawsuit. Personal injury suits arising from car accidents must be filed within two years from the date of the accident or the date of the last payment you received from your personal injury protection (PIP) insurance (KRS 304.39)
Failure to file your claim within the limitations period may bar you from ever filing suit. Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney will help you ensure that you don’t miss these kinds of important deadlines.
If you were injured in an accident through no fault of your own, you will likely be entitled to compensation from the person who caused the accident who is the Defendant.
Personal injury cases can be complicated, which is why it is essential to seek the assistance of an experienced attorney.
At the Law Firm of Flora Templeton Stuart, we have nearly 50 years of experience filing personal injury claims in Kentucky courts. We will work with you to develop your case, from beginning to end. Remember, we don’t recover our fees unless you win your case. Contact us today so we can help you fight for your maximum compensation.