Anyone who has suffered a physical injury may bring a claim for damages against another party who caused the accident or incident that led to the injury or who at least is alleged to have had some responsibility in the events leading to the injury. To prevail in a personal injury action, the claimant or plaintiff must prove that the defendant was negligent or engaged in unlawful conduct that caused or resulted in the injury.
Personal injury comes under the purview of tort law and includes various types of claims, including premises liability, product liability, motor vehicle accident, toxic tort claims and medical malpractice.
What Jurisdiction Will I File My Claim?
Although most injury claims are settled without the necessity of fling in court, if you do have to file or choose to do so, you must file your summons and complaint in the proper court, or where the accident occurred or where the defendant resides. The value of your claim or the amount of damages claimed also determines if you file in county or circuit court. Different rules regarding which court to file in and how to serve the defendant apply if the defendant lives in a different state.
If your claim for damages is less than $51,000 but more than $3,500, you must file in the appropriate county court. Claims that exceed $51,000 are filed in the county district court. A small claims action may not exceed $3,500 and are filed in the small claims division of the county court where the defendant lives or where the accident occurred.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is legislation that places a time limit within which you must seek a legal remedy or risk being forever barred from pursuing compensation from that defendant. For personal injury claims, you must file in the appropriate court within four years from the date of the injury.
For medical malpractice actions, the time limit is two years of the alleged act or omission that gave rise to the injury or within one year from when the injury should have been discovered through the exercise of reasonable diligence. Any medical malpractice claim must be filed within 10 years of the alleged act without regard to when the injury was discovered.
If you are a minor, which is being under the age of 21, the statute of limitations for personal injury begins to run upon your 20th birthday.
What to Expect
A personal injury lawsuit consists of a summons, complaint, answer, counterclaims, answer to counterclaims and various motions.
The complaint sets forth the facts, elements of your claim and its jurisdictional basis. The summons advises the defendants of the court in which they are being sued, the identity of the plaintiff and attorney, and that a proper written answer to the complaint must be filed and served within 30 days of being served or risk having a default judgment entered against them.
The answer generally denies the allegations, lists any affirmative defenses and may allege counterclaims against the plaintiff if the defendant claims any injuries that were allegedly the fault of the plaintiff.
What Does a Personal Injury Cost?
Nearly all personal injury lawyers take personal injury cases on a contingency or percentage basis, which is typically one-third of any settlement proceeds or money judgment, and will usually pay for court costs and other case expenses upfront until your case is satisfactorily resolved. For minor claimants, your attorney may only take up to 25 percent of any funds recovered. Upon settlement, your attorney is generally reimbursed for the costs and expenses from the settlement proceeds or money judgment. Should your case be resolved without a favorable result or in a court verdict in favor of the defendant, your attorney will typically waive any expended costs.
Consult a Personal Injury Lawyer
Personal injury laws and rules of evidence can be complicated and vary among the states. For an injury in Nebraska, consult a Nebraska personal injury lawyer and consider having legal representation so that you can obtain the compensation your injury case deserves.