If you’re injured as a result of someone else’s actions and/or negligence, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against them. After contacting a personal injury attorney, you’ll work together to gather evidence, do due diligence, and work your way through the legal system to get the compensation you deserve. Compensation can be lucrative, covering not just medical expenses but also the pain and suffering you endured—but is it worth it?
Personal injury lawsuits tend to be time consuming, and in some cases, expensive. It’s not always worth filing suit.
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The Costs of Pursuing a Personal Injury Case
First, let’s consider the costs of filing a personal injury suit. Costs vary wildly depending on your circumstances and your area. Some lawyers will only charge you a fee if your case is victorious—meaning there’s no real potential for a personal loss. In addition, most lawyers won’t charge you an initial consulting fee, so there’s no risk in beginning the conversation.
How Long Does a Personal Injury Case Take?
One of the biggest challenges in a personal injury case is the amount of time it takes to resolve. There are several steps to the process:
- Medical treatment. First, you’ll need to get treatment for your injury.
- Initial consultations. Then, you’ll start meeting with prospective lawyers and attending initial consultations.
- Legal investigation. You and your legal team will investigate the matter, which could take weeks of time.
- Demands and negotiations. After this period, your lawyer may recommend making a demand and/or negotiating with the person or organization responsible for your injury.
- The lawsuit. If you can’t reach a resolution, you’ll file a formal lawsuit.
- The discovery period is additional research by your legal team (and your opponent’s).
- Mediation and settlement. There may be further attempts to reach an amicable settlement offer before the case goes to trial.
- The trial. If all else fails, the case will be decided in a formal trial, which itself may last weeks.
Even simple cases that are resolved early in the process can still take months to develop. Longer cases may take years. If you don’t have the time or patience to wait this out, a legal case may not be a suitable option.
The Potential Upside
Personal injury and death settlements can, in extreme cases, rack up to billions of dollars. Depending on the extent of your injury and the gravity of your situation, you could receive compensation for your injury, lost wages, missed opportunities, and general pain and suffering—which could add up to a ton of money if you’re willing to put in the time and effort.
Variables to Consider
So is it worth the time and hassle to pursue a personal injury claim? Consider these variables:
- The extent of your injury. Think carefully about the extent of your injury. If you slipped and fell in a store and walked away with just a couple of bruises, you might technically have a personal injury claim, but it’s too small to pursue; most lawyers will tell you the same thing. The more severe your injury is, the more you’ll need to take your personal injury case seriously.
- The extent of your losses. How much have you lost as a result of this injury? Think about not just the cost of your medical bills, but also how much you’ve lost in wages, how many opportunities you’ve missed out on, and how much pain and suffering you’ve endured.
- The egregiousness of the offense. Though somewhat subjective, you might also consider the egregiousness of the offense that led to your injury. For example, there’s a big difference between a stranger beating you up out of spite and a good friend whose uneven stairs led to an accidental fall in their home. Since punitive damages are also sometimes imposed on the defendant, you may be incentivized to seek justice in some cases over others.
- Your potential payout. You won’t be able to accurately estimate the potential payout of your case unless you have some legal experience. Working with a lawyer, you should be able to get a feel for your chances of success—and what the payout might be. The bigger it is, the more incentivized you’ll be to take legal action.
- Other forms of coverage. Are your expenses covered by any other channels? For example, are you able to be compensated by workers’ compensation insurance? Or by the other person’s insurance company? If so, this may be the more convenient option.
Ultimately, your personal injury pursuit is completely up to you. It’s important to talk to a lawyer, preferably early in the process, to get a better understanding of your situation and some legal advice on how (or if) you should move forward. Since the consultation is often free, there’s no reason not to pursue it.