Personal injury lawsuits can be very case specific. However, that doesn’t mean that there is no general outline that they all should follow. This post will look at the different stages of a personal injury case process. It will cover everything from what to expect from your first attorney meeting to what a personal injury trial is like. Ready? Let’s go!
Getting Medical Treatment
This hardly counts as a stage for the lawsuit process, but it should concern you no less. Go and get your medical treatment if you were injured in an accident. Visit the hospital, or see a doctor, whatever suits you best but do it anyway. It will not only benefit your health but will help you legally in a long run as well. If you skip going to a doctor for some time after the accident an insurance adjuster or the jury might assume that you weren’t actually that hurt.
Find an Attorney
If you have a personal injury case only a specialized attorney can become your right hand. Remember, this post covers the basics of a personal injury case process but even those can get overwhelming. Now imagine how much trickier things can get considering all the details of an individual case. There is why you need an attorney who isn’t busy dealing with divorce or employment cases but is dealing with ins and outs of personal injury. You are welcome to book a free first consultation at Margarian Law Firm.
Statute of Limitations
If you don’t know this, be ready for some unpleasant surprises. The statute of limitations refers to how much time you have for filing a lawsuit after your injury has taken place. Once the statute of limitations is over, forget about suing. The time you will have depends on your state regulations. For example, in California, its two years while in Maine as long as six years after the accident.
Investigating Claims, Reviewing Medical Records
Now, when you have your professional lawyer, here is what he/she will do first. Your attorney will interview you about the accident. How did it happen? Is there any background information that might serve the case? Be prepared to describe your medical condition and medical treatment as well. Take this process very seriously because the more your lawyer knows the more he/she will be able to help you.
After that, expect your lawyer to obtain your medical records and bills related to the injury. This process can last for some months. Next, your lawyer will review all of these and estimate your chances.
Demands and Negotiation vs. Filing the Lawsuit
If you’re lucky enough to have a small case, know that you can settle it without filing a lawsuit. If the lawyer thinks that that’s the case, then he/she will make a demand for the other side’s attorney or insurance company.
However, when your case is bigger filing a lawsuit is necessary. After you’ve fired the lawsuit, your case gets one step closer to trial. The time it will take might largely depend on the state. However, usually, it will take one or two years for a personal injury case to reach the trial stage.
The Discovery Process
Remember that your case is a two-way street. There is you as the plaintiff and the accused party, which is the defendant. To put it simply, the discovery process is what connects you most. During it, both parties will investigate what the are the legal claims of their opponents. An exchange of document requests and interrogatories will happen. If any witnesses are involved, then depositions will be taken. The process can take somewhere between six months to a year based on court deadlines and the specifics of your personal injury case process.
Mediate and Negotiate
After the discovery period is over, it is time to talk about settlements. It might happen so that the lawyers will settle the case among themselves. However, if not they will turn to mediation. Basically, a mediation is when both attorneys and clients try to settle the case in the presence of a mediator.
Welcome to trial if your mediation failed. It might last a day a week or a bit longer. To avoid surprises, bear in mind that a trial won’t necessarily be held on the day on which it was scheduled. Judges’ scheduled get messed up sometimes, which result in rescheduling. Moral of the story is – don’t panic if your trial is suddenly canceled.
But what if a trial isn’t a happy end for you? If your lawyer thinks that a mistake of law was made, you have the right to appeal the decision within 30 days. Then, a higher court will take a look at your case and decide whether an error occurred.
You can see how many steps a personal injury case process has. And this is only a general outline. Let an experienced attorney guide you and make this journey less tiresome for you.