The process by which a plaintiff — the person who was injured — receives negligence compensation starts by hiring a personal injury attorney. The personal injury attorney will then assure that the plaintiff receives proper medical treatment and will gather evidence supporting her claim. A settlement will be negotiated on behalf of the plaintiff, if possible, once treatment has reached maximum medical improvement. If a settlement is unable to be reached, the plaintiff will need to go to trial and convince a jury that she is entitled to negligence compensation for her injuries.
In order for an injured person to receive negligence compensation, she must have received the injuries as the result of someone's negligent actions. Negligence is a legal term that may require a different burden of proof depending on the jurisdiction in which the accident took place. Therefore, the first step toward receiving negligence compensation is to seek the advice and counsel of an attorney who practices in the area of the law known as "torts," or personal injury law.
Once the plaintiff has obtained legal representation, she will begin, or continue, medical treatment for the injuries sustained as a result of the accident. Receiving the proper medical diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis are crucial to a claim for negligence compensation. In most cases, the amount of compensation the victim will receive is directly related to the type and severity of the injuries she sustained.
The cost of the treatment to date, as well as the projected cost of any future medical treatment, will be considered when determining compensation. In addition, the emotional impact the injuries had on the plaintiff will often affect the amount of compensation she receives. Documentation regarding the pain and suffering she endured is important.
When the plaintiff has reached the point at which the medical providers cannot do anything else to heal the injuries, known as "maximum medical improvement," the attorney will begin to place a value on the case. The value of a case will be determined by adding up all of the past and projected future medical bills, the cost to repair any property that was damaged, and any wages lost from missed work. A subjective figure will also be placed on the value of the pain and suffering the accident caused the plaintiff.
The attorney will then attempt to reach an out-of-court settlement with the defendant's insurance company. This process may take some time as the two sides will likely negotiate back and forth in an attempt to reach a negligence compensation amount that is agreeable to both sides. If a settlement amount is agreed upon, then the plaintiff will receive her compensation minus any fees charged by the attorney.
When an out-of-court settlement is not reached, the case will proceed to trial. At trial, the attorney will present the case to a jury. The jury will then decide whether the defendant was negligent and, if so, how much the plaintiff will receive in negligence compensation. If the jury finds that the defendant was not negligent, then the plaintiff will receive nothing.