For many people, a personal injury resulting from someone else’s negligence is something that may only happen once in their lifetime. Because of this, there may be a lot of questions surrounding how to file a personal injury lawsuit or how long it will take for them to receive compensation for their injuries if they decide to pursue legal action.
If you have been seriously injured in an accident where someone else has acted negligently, a personal injury attorney can help you to recover the maximum compensation you deserve for your injuries through the means of a personal injury lawsuit.
Learning the steps involved with filing a personal injury lawsuit is important for knowing exactly what you can expect. These are the 5 steps that are typically taken when filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Step 1: Consult With A Personal Injury Attorney
It’s important that you speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your accident occurs. Whether you have soft tissue damage, broken bones, or a more serious injury, the insurance company for the at-fault person will likely try to coerce information out of you to diminish the settlement amount they’re willing to offer for your injuries sustained.
In order to protect your rights, your attorney will advise you to not speak to the insurance company.
During your initial consultation with your attorney, he or she may ask for a copy of an accident report, what caused the accident, what limitations you are experiencing due to the accident, or to see a copy of your medical bills in relation to your injuries.
Step 2: Investigation of the Accident
To better understand who is fully at fault for the accident you were involved in, your attorney may need more information than what was provided by you. Your attorney may need more evidence to determine who or what was responsible for your injuries.
Your attorney may also ask to collect statements from any witnesses to the accident, check security footage, or even speak to experts to understand how another party’s negligence was the reason for your injuries.
Step 3: A Claim for Compensation is Filed
Once your attorney has performed an investigation including obtaining all necessary outside evidence related to your accident, they will contact the responsible party’s insurance company and file a claim.
For a straightforward accident, like a car crash where there is a single person at fault, you may only need to file a single claim. In a more complex accident where there may be multiple parties at fault for your injuries, you may need to issue an individual claim against each at-fault party.
Step 4: Negotiation
Once the initial claim or claims are filed and your medical treatments are completed, the insurance company may send a settlement offer. Your attorney can make recommendations, but ultimately it will be your decision on whether or not the offer is fair and reasonable.
Many injury victims will choose to not accept the initial offer made by insurance companies, even though having an experienced attorney on your side can automatically increase their initial settlement amount. In some cases, your attorney may go back and forth several times to negotiate with the insurance company before a settlement is reached.
If your reach an agreement with the insurance company, your claims process ends here. If you are unable to reach a settlement agreement that both parties find fair and reasonable, the next step is for your claim to go to court.
Step 5: Taking Your Claim to Court
If you and your attorney cannot reach an agreement with the insurance company, you will need to file a court case. This step can be broken down into four different phases:
- Discovery: During this phase, your attorney and the insurance company will work to gather as much information they need — this can include information from witnesses, video cameras, or any other form of evidence that is readily available. It could also include giving a deposition or testimony under oath.
- Mediation: Before the case goes to trial, you, your attorney and an attorney representing the insurance company may have an opportunity to sit with a mediator to discover whether or not you can reach an agreement.
- Trial: If you are not able to reach a settlement, you will have the opportunity to take your claim directly before a judge and jury who can issue a final ruling on your claim.
- Appeals: If you feel as though the trial failed to achieve the resolution that reflects the full compensation you deserve for your injuries, you can sometimes appeal the verdict. Likewise, the insurance company also appeal the verdict if they feel it does not reflect a proper resolution to the claim.
If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence – whether it be a car accident, slip and fall, or even medical malpractice – it’s important to have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side to help guide you through the process. If you have been injured, don’t wait. Call the attorneys at Cellino Law today.