Accidents happen all the time, and many of them, regardless of the specific type, can result in severe and disabling injuries. Even a minor injury can result in expensive medical bills and ongoing treatment that will prevent you from working and earning income. If you are injured after an accident, you might want to file a personal injury lawsuit against the party who was at fault.
While every individual personal injury case is different, there are certain elements that they all share. Each lawsuit also has a timeline that varies depending on the circumstances unique to the accident. It is highly recommended that injured victims consult with an experienced attorney to hold the responsible parties liable for the accident.
At Dash Injury Law Firm, our professional personal injury lawyers will provide you with the legal representation you need to seek justice and financial compensation. Below is a general detailing of the personal injury lawsuit process that you can expect as an injured victim. It is important to note that these steps may vary depending on your specific case.
Take Photos and Document the Scene
In the aftermath of an injury accident, if you are able, use your phone’s camera to take pictures and video of the scene. If it is an auto accident, be sure to capture all vehicles involved and any damage to them. Show the road surface, weather conditions, and all skid marks.
Should the accident be a slip and fall type, get pictures of damaged or wet walking surfaces. Show the absence of warning signs. Take a picture of the shoes worn.
These photos can become a pivotal part of any lawsuit you eventually file. Also, write down all events leading up to and including the actual accident. It is crucial to do this as soon as possible, while memories are still fresh.
Seek Medical Attention Immediately
The guidance to get medical help immediately may seem redundant if the accident victim appears to be feeling fine. Medical documentation is still critical to a case and can successfully show during settlement negotiations that specific injuries were sustained in the accident. Some injuries are not readily apparent, and the victim may feel normal. A medical professional can thoroughly evaluate the individual for underlying issues that may be present. The medical bills for this visit and all future treatments, X-rays, therapy, and such will be included in a lawsuit’s requested compensation amount.
Speak With and Retain an Attorney
Some individuals believe they can independently tackle the legal aspect of holding a negligent entity responsible in court. Sadly, many of these people walk away with no compensation awarded to them. Experienced accident attorneys know about getting evidence through discovery and investigation. They have stood against large corporations and insurance companies with a briefcase full of proof that the other party’s negligence caused the injury accident. Additionally, they have a list of expert witnesses who can testify in the victim’s favor.
Attorney Investigates Facts and Reviews Medical Evidence
After the accident victim hires a skilled attorney, the work now begins for the legal counsel. The plaintiff will be thoroughly interviewed and questioned by the lawyer to get a complete understanding of the case. With the information obtained, the lawyer will investigate other aspects of the case, such as the accident scene and the negligent party’s background.
Next, the attorney will gather all medical records and bills from the injury for evaluation. If needed, there will also be meetings with physicians and other medical professionals for further answers and insight. This process can take some time to complete, but the end goal is to have an airtight case. Evaluating the full extent of an injured victim’s injuries is key to proving that the injury and subsequent pain and suffering were due to the other party’s negligence.
Insurance Claim is Filed or Settlement Demanded
Many personal injury lawsuits are settled before they ever get to court. Individuals who do not retain an attorney usually do not fare as well in their financial compensation as those who do. When insurance companies have to deal with a skilled attorney, they are more inclined to offer higher settlement options because of the risk of going to trial. Victims who choose to go alone against the adjusters from large insurance companies are no real threat to such large corporations.
If no insurance company is involved in a victim’s personal injury case, the attorney files a demand letter for settlement to the person who caused the accident and injuries. It is typical for the negligent party’s lawyer to counter the demand with a lower settlement figure in such cases. The victim’s attorney will counter back with a higher amount.
The Discovery Process
The discovery process follows the filing of the claim or the settlement demand. At this stage, both sides attempt to gain as much knowledge and evidence as possible regarding the claims and defenses. The victim’s lawyer will send interrogatories and questions to the negligent party’s legal counsel and will also perform depositions of all witnesses from the accident scene. Based on several factors, this part of the process can take up to a year or so for completion.
Mediation and Negotiation
Following the discovery process, attorneys from both sides will begin talks together toward reaching a settlement. This process can end with a satisfactory settlement. However, a settlement agreement is not always achieved. At this point, mediation is the next step. This is where the victim, the victim’s attorney, the negligent defendant, and the defendant’s attorney all meet with a mediator in an attempt to reach a mutually agreed settlement.
The Case Goes to Trial
Often, the mediation process works well in personal injury cases. If, however, mediation is unsuccessful, the lawsuit then proceeds to trial. Several factors come into play in determining how long the trial will take. Some trials are as short as one day, while others last longer than one week. Court sessions sometimes only last half a day at a time, resulting in a lengthier trial.
With court schedules being what they are, it is not uncommon for trials to be moved around and not occur on the date previously set. The judge’s caseload is often the reason for a trial being rescheduled.
At trial, the jury or the judge will decide whether the defendant caused the accident and is responsible for the victim’s losses. If fault is placed with the defendant, the amount of damages due to the victim will be set, and the defendant will be ordered to pay the amount.
Are You Looking for a Personal Injury Lawyer?
The legal team at Dash Injury Law Firm is dedicated to helping our clients and are always willing to provide free information about personal injury law to further educate injured victims about their case. We work diligently to get our clients the maximum amount of compensation in their settlement outside of court, but we are fully prepared to take your case to trial if need be.
Contact our law firm today at 888-(DASH-LAW) or fill out an online contact form.