Stages of a Personal Injury Case
If you have been injured, you may want to know more information about what to expect and how the personal injury legal process works. We have outlined some of the key stages of a personal injury case so you can understand the complexity, and the value of engaging an experienced personal injury attorney to represent you.
Always seek medical care right away for your injuries. This is not only critical to your wellness, but it is also important to your personal injury claim. Make sure to document all stages of medical care, including:
- Emergency Room visit
- Medications prescribed
- X-rays, MRIs, cat-scans
- Physical Therapy
Don’t forget to record your medical costs and expenses incurred. This information will be important for your personal injury attorney in dealing with the insurance companies on your behalf.
If you must take time off work, for example, document how many days you take off, your income, and any other economic losses you suffer. Your personal injury lawyer will ensure that these losses are incorporated into your personal injury case.
Hiring a personal injury attorney
Due to the aggressive nature of insurance companies, and the complex nature of settling a personal injury claim that ensures you are fully compensated, you may want to consider the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer to help settle your claim and get appropriate recovery of your damages. Hiring a personal injury attorney is a good idea if your medical bills cost several thousand dollars or more, if you have sustained a serious injury, or if you have missed a significant amount of work.
Talk to a personal injury attorney to discuss your claim. This initial consultation is usually free, and the lawyer should indicate whether he or she thinks you have a viable personal injury case. If you do, the attorney will discuss their fees and describe the process of representing you. For most personal injury cases, attorneys do not get paid unless they settle or win your case.
Once engaged, your personal injury attorney will likely make a demand to try and settle the case out of court, as litigation is very time consuming and expensive.
After the responsible party receives the demand, they may also hire a personal injury defense lawyer to negotiate with your lawyer. The attorneys may discuss settlement amounts, but your attorney should not accept a sum of money to settle your claim without your consent. If the attorneys cannot agree on a settlement amount, your attorney may proceed with filing a lawsuit.
Lawsuit filing and discovery process
Once your personal injury attorney files a lawsuit, the other party will file a response, and the discovery process will begin. In this stage, lawyers raise questions to the other side to learn information and facts about the case, the incident, and the parties. Depositions may be taken from the parties to the suit or from witnesses.
Settlement or mediation
If the attorneys are not able to settle the personal injury case before suit is filed, they will again try to negotiate settlement during the discovery process, after filing suit. The parties may hire a local mediator, a neutral lawyer, or retired judge who will help facilitate settlement between the parties. If a settlement can be reached, trial is not necessary. If settlement cannot be reached, the parties will agree to move to trial.
A trial for your personal injury case may occur months or over a year after mediation has occurred. The trial can take days, weeks, or even months. The results of trial are final.
Being involved in an accident can be traumatic, creating lasting or permanent effects on your life. Representing yourself against insurance companies can be overwhelming, and many times the injured party is not in the right frame of mind to consider all of the elements of their situation during the negotiations. Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney to represent you ensures that your case will be fairly represented, and that you will have an expert guide and a strong legal advocate in your corner for the best possible outcome.