One concern many accident victims have is how long they’ll need to wait to receive compensation. Of course, each case is different. As experienced personal injury lawyers, we have settled cases in a matter of weeks or litigated cases for years. Below, we provide an overview of the personal injury lawsuit process to give you some idea of what is ahead.
1. Medical Treatment
You should immediately seek medical care for all injuries suffered in the crash. This probably means heading to the emergency room after finishing up at the accident scene. Remember to take all medications your doctor prescribes and do any recommended physical therapy. If you are successful in your lawsuit, the defendant should pay for your medical treatment.
2. Initial Meeting with an Attorney
A personal injury lawyer will help you analyze your rights and identify what information you need to bring a successful claim. Find an attorney as soon as possible. They can handle the claims process and all communications with the insurance companies, which is a big help.
Most cases can settle before trial. Your attorney will submit a demand letter to the defendant’s insurer, requesting compensation to settle the case. Odds are high the insurer will immediately reject your offer but make a counteroffer for less money.
Negotiation is a back-and-forth process which can take months. Ideally, each side works toward a number they both are happy with.
4. File a Lawsuit
This is an important step. You have a short amount of time to file, which is found in your state’s statute of limitations. Wait too long, and your case is dismissed. One benefit of hiring an attorney is that they will file your lawsuit for you. You can continue to negotiate toward a possible settlement even after filing suit.
5. Engage in Discovery
Discovery is a lengthy stage after a lawsuit is filed. Each side requests information and/or documents from the other side. They can also submit questions each side answers in writing under oath.
The purpose of discovery is to find out helpful information. For example, the other side will want to know the full extent of your injuries. They can ask for the names of your doctors and what medications you are taking.
Depositions are also part of discovery. A lawyer asks a witness questions in person, and a court reporter takes down the answer. Depositions are given under oath but don’t take place in court.
6. Participate in Mediation
Mediation sometimes helps two sides reach a settlement agreement. You meet with a mediator who listens to each side describe the dispute and what they want. Mediators are skilled at helping people to really listen to each other. A mediator can also propose possible solutions, though they are not a judge. You can always walk away from mediation.
7. Go to Trial
When you can’t settle, you might end up having a jury decide your dispute. In our experience, you will probably wait more than a year for your trial date—sometimes much longer.
At trial, an accident victim has the burden of showing the defendant is at fault for the accident. They can rely on witness testimony and documents. The defense can also present evidence, including witnesses. A jury will decide if the defendant is liable and, if so, how much the victim receives in compensation. In some cases, a judge might decide the case instead of a jury, though this is rare.
Contact Quinn Law Today
Our personal injury lawyers will be happy to discuss your case in more depth in a free consultation.