When it comes to settling and litigating personal injury cases, there are several “players,” including the plaintiff, the defendant, and the insurance company. The plaintiff is the injured party who files the claim or lawsuit seeking money damages. The defendant is usually the at-fault party who caused the accident. The insurance company may be a defendant if there is an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim pending.
If you have sustained injuries and damages as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be able to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit. In a personal injury case, the plaintiff, defendant, and insurance company all play important roles. The experienced Clearwater personal injury lawyers at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA may be able to help you file your claim and maximize its value.
The Plaintiff’s Role in a Personal Injury Case
In a personal injury case, the plaintiff is the individual who suffers injuries as a result of the defendant’s negligence. If you file a claim or lawsuit for personal injuries, you have the burden of proving that the defendant’s negligence caused the accident. You also have the burden of proving that the accident was the direct cause of all the injuries and damages you sustained.
Soft tissue injuries typically consist of muscular sprains, strains, and other injuries that do not require surgical intervention to correct. On the other hand, fractures, broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and other serious injuries may require one or more surgeries to correct.
After you sustain injuries in an accident, your first step should be to seek treatment for your injuries and get better. Once you have finished treating and reached a level of maximum medical improvement, your attorney can submit a settlement demand package. Even though Florida is a no-fault state, you may still be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against an at-fault defendant if your injuries are permanent or if your medical bills and lost wages exceed $10,000.
It is important to understand that just because you file a personal injury lawsuit does not necessarily mean that your case will go to trial. Filing a lawsuit merely starts the litigation process. In some cases, filing a lawsuit is even necessary in order for the insurance company to “wake up” and take your personal injury case seriously. This is especially true if the insurance company’s settlement offers have been sub-par.
Assuming you file a personal injury lawsuit, you have the ultimate decision-making power when it comes to accepting a settlement offer or going to trial. A Clearwater personal injury lawyer can make a recommendation about whether or not you should accept a pending offer, as opposed to rolling the dice and taking your case to trial.
The Defendant’s Role in a Personal Injury Case
The defendant is the individual or entity whom you allege caused the accident or harm. In a motor vehicle accident case, the defendant is usually the driver or the owner of the other vehicle. In a slip-and-fall case, the defendant may be the property owner, landlord, or property manager of the premises where you fell. In a dog bite case, the defendant may be the negligent dog owner who lets his dog roam around the neighborhood at large.
If you file a claim or lawsuit against a defendant in a serious accident case, the defendant may go ahead and admit fault or liability. For example, if it is clear from a police report that a defendant driver ran a red light or stop sign, the defendant or his attorney may admit liability. In that case, the plaintiff need only prove damages (i.e. how much compensation he or she should receive for the injuries sustained).
If the plaintiff files a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, the defendant will refer the lawsuit to his or her insurance company. The insurance company will then appoint a lawyer to represent the defendant throughout the personal injury case, including at trial.
The Insurance Company’s Role in a Personal Injury Case
The insurance company plays a large role in any personal injury case. This is because the insurance company holds the purse strings when it comes to settlement and verdict money. For example, if you sustained $30,000 in medical bills as a result of a driver’s negligence, most people do not have $30,000 in cash sitting around to pay off those bills. This is where insurance coverage comes into play.
When it comes to insurance coverage, Florida is a no-fault state. In Florida, every motorist is required to carry a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits. A driver’s own PIP coverage will then cover medical bills and lost wages which the driver may suffer in an accident. This coverage is available no matter who was at fault for the accident.
In some cases, however, the injured accident victim may still be able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. This is true if one or both of the following exist:
- You sustained a permanent injury
- Your medical bills or lost wages exceed the $10,000 in minimum PIP coverage
- A permanent injury is an injury which involves one or more of the following:
- A significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
- A permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability
- Scarring or disfigurement which is significant
If you are eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit, you will likely file your lawsuit against the at-fault driver or property owner, depending upon the circumstances. However, it is really the insurance company that is calling the shots when it comes to settlement. The insurance company makes the settlement offers in a personal injury case and the insurance company’s adjusters negotiate with the Plaintiff’s attorney to try and settle the case before trial.
Call a Clearwater Personal Injury Lawyer Today to Discuss Your Case
If you have suffered personal injuries due to someone else’s carelessness or negligence, you need the services of an experienced personal injury lawyer. The Clearwater personal injury attorneys at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA can help you navigate the settlement and litigation processes in your case.
To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a Clearwater personal injury lawyer, please call us at 727-451-6500 or contact us online.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 (727) 451-6900 Clearwater Personal Injury Attorney