What Are the Steps in a Personal Injury Case?
Posted on Wednesday, October 20th, 2021 at 10:36 pm
If you were injured in an accident caused by another person’s negligent actions, you might consider pursuing a personal injury case. However, it can be a lengthy process with many different stages. Every case is unique and goes through different procedures, but in general, a personal injury case typically will follow these steps.
First, you need to hire a lawyer. Many personal injury attorneys offer a free initial consultation. You don’t have to pay to discuss your case and learn about the available legal options. During the consultation, you might discuss a variety of topics, such as:
- How the incident occurred
- The injuries you suffered
- Medical expenses and related costs you incurred as a result of the accident
- Whether someone else’s negligent actions resulted in the accident
- Different options for seeking compensation in a personal injury case
The consultation is your opportunity to learn how you can proceed with a case and whether you’re entitled to compensation. Take the time to get to know the attorney you’re meeting with to determine if they’re the right fit for you. You should also ask about their legal experience and prior case results.
Hiring an attorney is one of the most critical decisions you can make following an accident. It is crucial to ensure you retain someone who will keep your interests in mind and work to reach your desired outcome.
If you decide to hire a lawyer, they will likely begin working on your case by conducting an investigation into the accident. They will need to determine who was at fault for the accident and what the available insurance coverage looks like.
The investigation also involves gathering evidence to prove liability, such as:
- Police/incident reports
- Repair estimates for property damage
- Medical records and bills
- Statements from eyewitness
- Photos from the accident scene
- Video surveillance of the incident
The type of personal injury case you have will determine the type of evidence your attorney needs to collect.
After identifying the liable party or parties, your lawyer will likely request a copy of the negligent party’s insurance policy. Your attorney can file a claim on your behalf and communicate with the insurance company throughout the process.
If you’re seeking a settlement through an insurance claim, your attorney should submit a demand package to the at-fault party’s insurance company. This will include a letter detailing the accident, how it happened, and who was at fault. They should also outline the injuries you sustained, all incurred expenses, and how much you are seeking in compensation.
Your lawyer will also need to submit the evidence they found during the investigation along with the letter. That can include copies of your medical records, bank statements showing out-of-pocket costs, photos of visible injuries, and statements from witnesses.
Negotiations will begin after the insurance company reviews the demand package. They might agree to the amount your attorney is demanding or come back with a counteroffer. If they deny the claim or refuse to settle for an amount your attorney believes is fair, you and your attorney can proceed with a lawsuit.
File a Lawsuit in Court
If you decide to move forward with a lawsuit, your attorney will prepare the legal documents and file on your behalf with the appropriate civil court. Lawsuits are much more involved than insurance claims. They require following strict deadlines and specific procedures.
After filing a lawsuit, the at-fault party (the defendant) will have a certain amount of time to respond by filing their answer in court. After they file their answer, your lawyer and their lawyer will begin the discovery phase. This involves gathering evidence and requesting the evidence the opposing party found during their investigation of the accident.
At some point, one or both sides might schedule a deposition to sit down with the plaintiff (you) or the defendant and ask them questions related to the case. Giving a deposition is similar to testifying in court. You’re under oath and must answer all questions honestly.
It might be possible to settle the case without going to trial. During a mediation, the plaintiff, defendant, attorneys, and a mediator will get together to try to resolve the matter. If everyone can agree to a settlement, the case will end. However, if they can’t reach a settlement agreement, the case will go to trial.
You can settle your lawsuit at any point before the court enters a judgment. However, once there’s a verdict, you won’t have any control over the outcome. If the court decides to rule in the defendant’s favor, you won’t receive any compensation. If the court rules in your favor, the defendant must pay the specified amount to compensate for your losses.
At Abel Law Firm, our team of personal injury lawyers always fights hard for the rights of our clients. When you hire us, we will provide ongoing communication and guidance, so you understand the steps involved in your case. You will receive dependable representation and services throughout the legal process.