A personal injury claim is simply a way for a person to collect a sum of money (also known as “damages”) if he or she has been injured by the actions or negligence of someone else.
Personal injury claims can include tangible harm, such as physical injuries, long- or short-term disabilities, and wrongful death. These claims can also include less tangible – and harder to measure – concepts like emotional distress, psychological injury, and pain and suffering.
Due to these abstract grievances, people are often frustrated by the fact that claimants in personal injury cases request money for situations that money cannot fix. Many think that filing a personal injury lawsuit is a sure sign of good old American greed by the injured person. What many people fail to realize, though, is that awarding compensation for negligence is not an American concept, nor is it relatively new. In fact, this is a system of justice that dates back to the Old Testament.
It’s true that money cannot undo the wrongful death of a spouse, nor can it ease the pain brought on by a severe physical disability. But the law must hold the negligent party responsible for their actions. And, in many cases, filing a personal injury claim is really the only way to do that.
How a Personal Injury Claim Works in Arizona
In Arizona, a personal injury claim begins with a person who has been injured due to the actions or negligence of someone else. That person files a claim requesting monetary compensation for his or her injury. In most cases, personal injury claims are made against the insurance company that represents the person who caused the injury.
At this point, most personal injury claims conclude with a settlement. In such cases, both the plaintiff and the defendant (or the defendant’s insurance company) agree to an amount of money that is believed to be fair compensation for the injuries sustained. These kinds of settlements are not always equally favorable to both sides, though. Sometimes, the settlement is more favorable to the injured person; and other times, the settlement seems to favor the defendant or insurance company. In the majority of cases, though, both sides are typically unhappy and wish things had ended differently. However, the key point to make about settlements is that they are agreed upon by both parties. No judge or jury can force a settlement. Instead, both parties settle in order to avoid the risk of a lengthy trial.
If the case can’t be settled, then a lawsuit is typically filed. Filing a lawsuit is the beginning of the litigation process, which entails:
- Answering questions posed by the other side and their lawyers (known as discovery).
- Giving a deposition, which is a testimony given under oath that may be recorded and used in a trial.
- Going to trial.
When a personal injury lawsuit goes to trial, it usually ends in one of two ways:
- Dismissal – Dismissals happen when the judge decides that the personal injury case does not have enough merit to move forward.
- Judgment – A judgment is a piece of paper signed by a judge. A judgment occurs after the jury comes back with a verdict, which, contrary to popular opinion, is not final. A judge must issue a judgment based on the jury verdict. Usually, the judgment matches the jury verdict in terms of guilt or innocence and the amount of the damages to be awarded. After the judgment is rendered, the losing party may then decide to appeal the case.
If you’ve been injured in an accident and would like to file a personal injury claim, please contact the Phoenix, Arizona personal injury attorneys at Breyer Law Offices. As experienced personal injury lawyers, we can provide you with a free, confidential assessment of your case.