Few injuries are as devastating as a traumatic brain injury (TBI). It has the tendency to completely change a person’s life. What makes it deadly is that the symptoms don’t appear immediately. This means that a person may suffer from a brain injury and never know. And by the time they find out, the injury will have worsened.
A CDC report states that approximately 1.4 million Americans suffer brain injuries every year. These numbers include those who were injured due to accidents as well. When the term “accident” appears along with the word “traumatic brain injury”, you have a chance of seeking compensation.
An experienced traumatic brain injury lawyer will assist you through every step of your settlement claim. They will do the necessary paperwork, gather evidence, consult expert witnesses, negotiate with insurance companies, and present your case in court if needed.
With the help of a lawyer aside, a little awareness never hurts anyone. This article lists the different steps a victim of a traumatic brain injury or the loved one of a victim has to follow to file a case.
Before you think about filing a case, you’ll have to discuss these four elements with your lawyer:
- The Defendant Owed a Duty of Care: The law requires that the defendant be aware of the risks that they or their actions pose to others around them. This law is applicable to everyone.
- The Defendant Breached the Duty of Care: The victim has to prove that the defendant was careless or showed negligence in exercising their duty of care. The defendant acting recklessly will also come under breach of duty of care.
- The Defendant Was Responsible for the Victim’s Injuries: The next element is causation. The defendant is held liable if they acted in a careless or negligent manner that led to the victim’s injuries.
- The Victim Suffered Quantifiable Damages: Injury claims are valid only if the victim suffered injuries due to the defendant’s negligence, carelessness, or malicious thoughts. Therefore, the victim has to prove that the defendant’s actions caused damages and/or losses that are quantifiable under the law.
If you have enough evidence to prove all these things, you can file a traumatic brain injury case.
The following are the basic steps involved when filing a traumatic brain injury case:
- Draft the complaint and summons
- File the complaint
- Serving the defendant
- Negotiation or Trial
Draft The Complaint and Summons
Also called a petition, the complaint is the first step in filing a traumatic brain injury case. It contains all the details of your case in numbered paragraphs. The complaint usually includes:
- The names of all the parties involved
- The details of the accident that caused the traumatic brain injury
- The details of the injury
- The reason why the defendant is legally responsible
- The compensation you expect
The complaint is filed by the plaintiff or the surviving family members of the victim. The summons, on the other hand, is issued by the court along with the complaint. It informs the defendant that they are involved in the lawsuit and grants them a deadline before which they must respond. Failure to respond to a court summons may lead to a default judgment.
Filing the Complaint
The next step is to file the complaint with the clerk. Once the filing fee is paid (around $100 to $300), the clerk signs the summons and authorizes it with the court’s seal. The clerk will return the signed summons and the complaint to you. The complaint authorized by the clerk will have the “Filed” stamp on it.
Serving the Defendant
The lawsuit starts once the complaint has been filed. It is the plaintiff’s responsibility to serve the defendant with a copy of the summons and the complaint. Serve here simply means to send the document to the defendant as per court rules.
Negotiation or Trial
The defendant, upon receiving the complaint, can either accept, refuse, or counter the allegations made against them. This must happen before the deadline offered by the court.
Before a trial, all the parties involved will appear in court to update the judge on the case’s proceedings. They will also discuss ways to settle the traumatic brain injury case through mediation or arbitration. The case moves to trial if both parties cannot come to an agreement.
Traumatic brain injuries are one among the most severe types of personal injuries. The compensation for TBIs is usually on the higher end, provided the victim submits all the necessary evidence to back their claims. An experienced attorney will do what is required to get you the compensation you deserve.