As Michael Connelly said, “You can’t patch a wounded soul with a Band-Aid.” The good news is that if you are filing a personal injury case, then it’s not your soul that’s injured, but your body. So, take a deep breath. This doesn’t mean that you are not hurt at all. You still need to protect your rights and move on with your case.
First, let’s understand what are personal injury cases. They are legal disputes that arise when one person suffers physically from an accident, and someone else might be legally responsible for the happening. A personal injury case usually is formalized through civil court proceedings. The purpose is to find others legally at fault through a court judgment. Before going any further into the actual process of a personal injury case, you should think about hiring a lawyer for the three main reasons. First, your personal injury lawyer is highly enthusiastic and motivated to protect your interests. Second, your attorney for sure understands the legal procedures and knows the deadlines better than you. And lastly, your personal lawyer understands the value of your claim.
The stages of personal injury case can be divided into 6 parts.
Get yourself together
This stage can take from one to six months. The first and most important action you should take is to get medical treatment. If you miss this step, the rest won’t have any meaning. This is the right thing to do for your own health. Besides, the insurance adjuster and the jury won’t take your words too serious about you being really hurt if you don’t see a doctor right after your accident. So, getting a medical treatment is one proof that you were injured.
Get a personal injury lawyer
You should hire an attorney to go smooth into next steps. You will have approximately a month to find a lawyer that suits you before your first court date. If you have applicable insurance or assets, finding a personal injury defense attorney won’t be hard. You need to notify the insurance company as soon as you find out about the lawsuit. Next, either your insurance company will get you a lawyer or you will hire someone yourself.
Investigation takes place
Your lawyer will gather all the needed information and facts for conducting a thorough investigation. It is important to understand when the injuring event took place and how it all happened. The whole process of investigation can take up to 6 months. The lawyer will gather physical evidence, interview the witnesses, find photos and hire needed experts. Besides those, the lawyer will also need all your medical records from the hospital, psychical therapist, chiropractor, surgeons, and orthopedics. After a careful research your attorney will have to make a decision: is the case worth pursuing or not? And if you are in California and have a personal injury case Margarian Law Firm is here to help you.
Negotiation is the key
If your lawyer finds that your case is worth pursuing and the case is accepted, the negotiation process begins. The approximate time limit for this stage is from a week to several months. At this stage, the lawyers will engage in settlements between responsible parties, insurance companies, etc. to determine if a settlement can be reached. Next, the insurance adjuster will go over the records and present an offer suggesting a settlement amount. If the outcome was an impasse: no one was able to come to an agreement or a settlement is unfair, the lawyer will suggest filing a lawsuit.
Litigation is the process of taking legal actions. The stage can take from one up to 18 months. As mentioned above, if no agreement was reached then the lawyer will begin litigation. A complaint will be sent to each defendant. The plaintiff (the accuser) waits for an answer. If served within the state, they are given 20 days to respond. If out of state they are given 60 days to answer.
What happens in the end?
Let’s call this stage “deposition”. All parties gather information, testimony, documents and any other evidence from each other and anyone else who may have information on the case. Then depositions start. A deposition is a meeting where opposing lawyers ask questions under oath. After this, a mediation is held. If the mediation is unsuccessful then the case will move to trial and the rest will depend on the jury.
The stages of personal injury cases can differ from another very much. It’s important to remember that and never generalize. Generalizations can create expectations and when expectations are not met no one is happy. Now that you have quite some knowledge about the process you will be able to protect yourself better.