In an unfortunate situation where you are injured in an accident and the injury was caused by another person, you may want to consider filing a personal injury claim. To do this, it is important to know the average duration of the case and how the whole process works. This article will give you a rough guide to a standard personal injury case, but it is imperative to note that most cases of this type are often resolved before they reach court. Therefore, your personal injury case may not reach all the process steps mentioned in the article, but we believe that the information here will be very useful for you in the future.
See a doctor
After being injured, you should first receive medical treatment in a hospital or clinic. Regardless of the severity of the injury, as long as you feel injured by the accident, we recommend that you see a doctor. Health should be your top priority, but in a legal sense, choosing not to receive medical help immediately after the accident can make the injury less serious in the eyes of the adjuster as well as the jury.
Seek a legal professional
The rule of thumb in personal injury cases – any case that goes beyond a minor claim should be consulted at a minimum with a personal injury lawyer. Minor injury claims can be handled independently as long as you are comfortable and confident with the process. However, you should consider the help of a legal professional when discussing a case of serious injury or if there is a dispute between the potential offender and yourself.
To better assess the severity of your injury, ask yourself the following questions: Did you have to be absent from work for more than a few days? Your medical bill exceeds a thousand dollars? Did the injury interfere with your daily activities? If you answered yes to any of these questions, we recommend that you seek a lawyer to better assist you in this matter.
Investigation of claims and medical records by a lawyer
Before bringing an action, the lawyer will interview you to better understand the case – starting from the accident, the injuries you sustained and the medical treatment you received. Be honest with your lawyer and answer all their questions honestly so that they can better serve you in the case. After the interview, the lawyer will need all medical records and invoices relating to the injury and this step will take several months.
Make demands and negotiate demands
Most minor injury cases are resolved before legal action is filed. If your lawyer feels that the claim can be settled, they will send a request to the defendant’s lawyer or their insurance company and negotiate with them.
A good lawyer should wait until you reach a point of maximum medical improvement (MMI) before applying. This means that the claim stage should not begin until all medical treatments for your injury are complete and you are fully recovered, as the lawyer needs to know how much this case is worth. Additionally, filing a complaint before the complainant reaches MMI may underestimate the case in the eyes of the jury.
Filing a legal action
The litigation phase begins when settlement talks fail or the two parties cannot agree on a mutual decision, and this is often signified by the filing of a lawsuit in court. Although pre-trial proceedings tend to differ from place to place, a standard personal injury case should take a year or two to be tried. Note that lawsuits must be filed within a strict time frame for approval.
This is where both parties investigate the other party’s claims and legal defenses. Interrogations and requests for documents from each other as they collect depositions from all related parties as well as witnesses. This phase lasts from six months to a year depending on the complexity of the case as well as the court’s deadlines.
Mediation, negotiation and settlement
Once the discovery phase is over, lawyers for both sides begin to discuss a settlement. While there are lawyers who prefer an exclusively lawyer-to-individual discussion for a settlement, there are occasions when the claimant and the lawyers resort to mediation. The mediation process involves clients and their lawyers seeking the assistance of a neutral third party to come up with a resolution.
When mediation fails, the dispute is now resolved in court through a personal injury lawsuit. An average trial for personal injury claims can take anywhere from a day to a week, or even longer depending on the length of the trial (as some courts only hold trials for half a day instead of a full day) . Therefore, it is a good idea to do some research on the courts and their hours of operation to have a better gauge of the total length of trials.
It is crucial to understand that a trial scheduled for trial is not the same as a trial that takes place on the stipulated date. Delayed trials are often attributed to the judge’s contradictory schedule or other trivial reasons. Therefore, a hard trial does not automatically mean that you are placed at a disadvantage, so you should not worry about it too much.
Regardless of the injury, we believe everyone should get the compensation they deserve. As an individual, it is important that you seek the appropriate medical treatment and consult a qualified lawyer before handing over technical legal tasks to the legal team. While some steps are handled by your personal injury lawyer, understanding the legal process for a standard personal injury case can be of benefit to you in the long run. I repeat, personal injury cases tend to differ in terms of process (as minor claims can be resolved independently). Use this article as a rough guideline and the recommendation for next steps should come from your lawyers who have a better understanding of your situation.
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