While accidents that result in injuries occur all of the time, their prevalence does not reduce the confusion and pain you might feel when you or your loved one is injured. However, some accidents do not form the basis of a personal injury claim. To learn about what is considered a personal injury case, scroll down.
What Is Considered a Personal Injury Case?
A personal injury case is a legal dispute that can arise when someone sustains injuries and harm because of an accident, and another person or entity has caused the accident and injuries by acting negligently or wrongfully. When a personal injury claim is successful, the negligent party’s insurance company will pay damages to the injured plaintiff through a negotiated settlement or court verdict.
Many personal injury claims are resolved without ever being filed in court through settlement negotiations. However, personal injury cases can be formalized by filing a civil complaint with the court that has jurisdiction to hear the case. Personal injury lawsuits might be filed when an insurance company disputes liability or refuses to extend a reasonable settlement offer to the victim.
Most personal injury claims involving fault disputes in accidents are resolved through informal settlements.
Once you retain an attorney, they will carefully investigate your case to make a liability determination and properly value your claim. Then, they will draft a demand letter and send it to the insurance company and defense counsel. The demand letter will include a description of your injuries, the legal causes of action involved, and the monetary amount you are demanding to settle your claim. The insurance company might respond by accepting your demand, denying it, or making a counteroffer. Your attorney will communicate any offers you receive. You can then decide whether or not to accept them or to continue negotiating.
While criminal cases are initiated by the government, personal injury lawsuits are started by the plaintiff filing a civil complaint against a person, private or public company, or a government agency after being injured in an accident caused by negligence. Your attorney might file a civil complaint if the insurance company refuses to extend a fair settlement offer or disputes its insured’s liability.
Once a complaint is filed, it must be served on the defendant. The defendant will then have time to respond by filing an answer. Once both the complaint and answer have been filed, the case will enter a period called discovery during which both sides must exchange evidence with each other. Negotiations will continue during the discovery phase, and the case might still settle without going to trial. However, if a settlement cannot be reached, the case will go to trial.
Some cases might be resolved through alternative dispute resolution procedures, including mediation or arbitration. In mediation, a neutral third-party mediator meets with both parties and tries to facilitate a settlement. In arbitration, both parties appear before an arbitrator who will hear evidence and issue a decision.
Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
All states, including Arkansas and Oklahoma, have established deadlines for filing different types of legal actions. Under Ark. Code § 16-56-105, Arkansas has established a three-year deadline for filing a personal injury claim. The deadline clock begins from the date of the injury accident. In addition, there is a two-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice in Arkansas.
Oklahoma’s personal injury statute of limitations is found at 12 OK Stat § 12-95. Under this law, you must file a claim no later than two years after your injury accident. In addition, there is a one-year statute of limitations under the Oklahoma Governmental Tort Claims Act if a government employee causes the damages, and it is sometimes capped at $125,000. For Native American tribes and tribal grounds, there are also special rules for filing that shorten the statute of limitations to one year.
If you fail to file a lawsuit on time, your claim will be time-barred and will likely be dismissed.
Get Help with Your Personal Injury Case
What is considered a personal injury case? Many different types of cases fall under this definition. If you have suffered injuries because of the actions of another person or entity, you might be entitled to pursue compensation by filing a personal injury claim. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Craig L. Cook can help you explore your options. To schedule a free consultation, please call 479-783-8000 (Fort Smith) or 918-912-2132 (Tulsa) or send us a message online.