Accidents can happen anytime, and when they do and it was not your fault, you need to know how to recover compensation for your injuries. If you or a loved one has suffered personal injuries due to the negligence of another party, it’s vital that you understand your legal rights and options to make an informed decision about how best to proceed.
At The Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor, we are experienced personal injury attorneys who can help you pursue compensation for your injuries. Our firm represents clients in Hickory, North Carolina, and surrounding areas, including Statesville and Lenoir.
Contact a Hickory personal injury lawyer at our firm today for a free consultation.
Common Types of Personal Injury Cases in Hickory, NC
The most common types of personal injury cases in Hickory, NC, include the following:
- Auto accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Dog bites and animal attacks
How Do I File a Personal Injury Claim?
The first step to filing a personal injury claim is to contact a personal injury lawyer. Your attorney can guide you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected.
You should also call the police as soon as possible after an accident, regardless of who was at fault. This will help establish liability in case it’s ever questioned later on. It’s also critical that you get medical attention right away if possible—even if it looks like there’s not much damage, this could change over time as internal injuries heal or become more apparent due to swelling or bruising around the site of impact.
It might feel like enough just knowing there will be some compensation for your injuries after such incidents occur; however, keep in mind that compensation includes more than just reimbursement for medical expenses–it also covers things like lost wages due to time off work as a result of your injuries and other related expenses.
A personal injury attorney will help you understand what kinds of compensation may be available to you in your specific case.
Should I Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?
An accident can change your life in many ways, and the stress of an injury can make it challenging to get back to normal. That’s why it’s essential to talk with a personal injury lawyer immediately after an accident.
When you hire one of our Hickory personal injury attorneys, you’ll have someone on your side who knows what to do in the aftermath of the accident. Not only will we help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries, but we can also assist with many other issues caused by the accident.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim in Hickory, NC?
Statutes of limitations are laws that set the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit. In North Carolina, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is typically three years from the date of an injury. If you miss the deadline or don’t follow the proper procedure for getting a lawsuit filed and the right parties named, your case will be dismissed, and you will not be able to recover financial compensation. The statute of limitations in your particular case is one of the first things you should talk about with your attorney.
How the Personal Injury Claims Process Works in Hickory
The personal injury claims process can be confusing if you’re in an accident. Fortunately for those injured in Hickory, North Carolina, there are resources to help you understand what to do.
The first thing you should do after being involved in an accident is call 911. The police will come to the accident scene and gather evidence by taking photographs and getting witness statements.
Even if you don’t think it’s necessary, either because nobody was injured too severely or no one saw anything—or that it might take too long—you should still call 911 to make sure a report is filed, and an investigation is started.
If you were injured in the accident, you must ensure that your injuries are documented. You can do this by going to a doctor or hospital, taking pictures of your injuries or writing down what happened and how you feel.
Summons and Complaint
A summons and complaint are the legal documents that start the process of filing a personal injury claim. These documents put the defendant (the person or entity who caused your injuries) on notice that you have filed suit against them. It also sets out how long they have to respond (otherwise known as an answer) to the complaint. This is usually 30 days from the date they were served with the summons and complaint. However, most civil procedure timelines have the ability to request an automatic extension without the need to show cause as to why the extension is needed.
Defendant’s Attorneys File an Answer
In most cases, the defendant’s attorney will file an answer to your personal injury claim. An answer is a written response to the complaint filed by the plaintiff, which states defenses that the defendant is using to fight their claim. Generally, an answer will either admit or deny the allegations in the complaint.
If a defendant does not file an answer to your complaint within the time allowed by law, the court will likely grant an entry of default in your favor. This means that issues like fault, are automatically determined. However, you may still have to have a hearing to present evidence to obtain a default judgment (an actual money award).
If a defendant does file an answer, however, they may try to dispute some of the facts you outlined in your complaint. Both sides then enter the discovery phase, where each party gathers evidence supporting their claims.
The Discovery Phase
The discovery phase is a fact-finding process in which both sides gather evidence, such as medical records and testimony from the parties, witnesses, the investigating officer and possible expert witnesses. In this phase, you’ll disclose relevant information that may help your case. A discovery process can include
- Interrogatories: These are written questions that each side asks the other party to answer under oath. Responses must be truthful and complete.
- Depositions: A deposition is a form of oral testimony that allows both parties to question each other about relevant information. The deposition is recorded and can be used as evidence in court.
- Requests for Production: The plaintiff’s written requests ask the defendant to provide documents or other tangible evidence that may support their claim.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
You have several options in the case of a personal injury claim. The first option is to settle the dispute out of court, which means you will agree to take a certain amount of money from the other party in exchange for dropping your claim and not suing them. This is an attractive option if you do not want to go through with litigation but still get compensation for your injuries.
Another option is arbitration, wherein parties in dispute agree to have their case heard by a qualified arbitrator out of court who decides whether or not they should be awarded damages. An arbitration is like a mini trial where the parties put on evidence to support their position, but there is no jury and the arbitrator or arbitration panel is the finder of fact and makes an award.
Finally, mediation allows both parties involved in a claim to meet with a neutral third party, usually another attorney or a retired judge, who helps the parties discuss their issues without prejudice or bias to try and devise an agreeable solution without having to go to court.
Preparing for a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Most personal injury claims are settled outside of court. However, you may have to undergo an actual trial if the negotiations fail. When this happens, you must be prepared for what lies ahead. Understanding how personal injury trials work will help you feel more confident about your case.
Your personal injury lawyer can help you understand what to expect in a personal injury trial. They will be able to provide you with information about the process, including:
- The different phases of a trial
- What types of evidence are used in these trials–meaning what evidence may be admissible or not
- How the jury selection process works
- How to prepare for trial
- What happens after a jury reaches a verdict?
- What are the possible outcomes of a trial?
How Long Does it Take to Resolve a Personal Injury Case in Hickory?
How long it takes to resolve a personal injury case depends on the specifics of your case. Some are resolved in a few months, while others take years to resolve. The more serious the injuries involved, the longer it will likely take for you and your lawyer to settle or win your case in court.
Likewise, if there is more money at stake, such as medical bills, property damage, lost wages, or other complexities related to your case (e.g., multiple defendants), these could also result in a longer resolution process than usual for personal injury cases.
Contact a Hickory, NC Personal Injury Lawyer Today to Get Started on Your Case
If you’ve been injured, the last thing you want to do is wait until it’s too late to get help from an NC personal injury lawyer. Some people think they can handle a claim on their own and when they realize they can’t, it’s too late. Having a personal injury attorney on your side from the beginning will ensure that your rights are protected and that you get what is rightfully yours.
The Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor understand how stressful it can be to deal with injuries and try to determine what steps should be taken next. Our Hickory personal injury lawyers know how important it is to have someone who understands the legal system and knows how to navigate through all of these issues so that you can focus on healing instead of worrying about money or whether or not your case will be successful.