Personal Injury Case Steps
If you’ve been injured because of someone else’s fault, you have every right to file a lawsuit and fight for fair compensation for your losses and pain and suffering.
A personal injury attorney can be a good resource to turn to if you have questions about your lawsuit. He or she may also be able to give you an estimate of you what your case may be worth.
Connect with an injury lawyer in your area by filling out the free case evaluation form below or by calling us at 1 (877) 288-7564 to be connected with a local attorney who can provide you with a case evaluation.
Be sure to check out this other valuable injury lawsuit information:
My Personal Injury Lawsuit Info on what to do if you’ve been negligently injured.
How Much is My Case Worth? Wondering how much your lawsuit may be worth?
Injured & Need Cash to Get By? If you’ve been injured, your pocketbook is probably feeling some pain too. Get the direct help you need to get through your injury.
Notice of Representation
As soon as you hire a personal injury attorney, he will mail a notice of representation to the person responsible for your injury and their insurance company.
From then on, the defendant and his insurance company is prohibited from contacting you directly and you won't need to respond to or send any correspondence. We will handle all of the paperwork.
Reviewing Medical Treatment, Costs and Damages
Your personal injury attorney will likely have you sign a number of authorizations when you first retain his services, including medical record, wage verification and income tax authorizations.
Your attorney needs these items so he can collect evidence from third parties and evaluate medical bills, any lost wage information, and property damage, if any, related to the personal injury claim.
Evaluation of the Claim
Once your personal injury lawyer has collected and reviewed all available records, he can begin to more accurately assess personal injury case value and negotiate a settlement. If everyone finds the offer satisfactory, the personal injury case settles, although cases rarely settle at this early stage.
In most circumstances, your personal injury lawyer will have to file a lawsuit before the insurance company is willing to talk serious about a reasonable settlement.
Settlement of a Claim
When a claim settles, waivers are signed. You receive your money after your personal injury lawyer receives his fee and gets reimbursed for any filing or processing fees that he advanced on your behalf.
Injury Claims That Do Not Settle
Sometimes, for any number of reasons, a personal injury claim cannot be settled through negotiation. In personal injury cases like these, your personal injury lawyer will file a lawsuit on your behalf.
Typically, your personal injury attorney will file a lawsuit in the county where the injury occurred. Each state has its own statutes of limitations-laws that limit the time during which you can file a lawsuit. There are also special limitations that apply to certain types of personal injury cases, such as claims against the government.
Your personal injury attorney will be able to tell you which limitations periods apply to your case. Once your personal injury attorney files the suit, he or she must arrange for a summons to be served on the defendant, as every state requires that the defendant receive notice of the complaint and be given an opportunity to respond to the allegations.
The defense generally has 30 days to respond. If the defense fails to respond, your personal injury attorney can bring a motion for default judgment, requesting that the court enter a judgment against the defendant for failing to respond to the allegations.
Both parties are granted the opportunity to conduct an investigation regarding the facts of the case. The investigation process is called discovery and both parties can ask written questions of the other party (interrogatories) or obtain oral testimony from the other party or a third party (depositions).
The discovery process is when your personal injury attorney's true experience will shine. Effective discovery by your personal injury attorney can lead to a faster and more lucrative recovery for you. Discovery is also a very crucial aspect of a case going to trial, as it is your personal injury lawyer's opportunity to gather evidence that supports your claim.
If your lawyer fails to collect evidence during the discovery period, it could have a very detrimental impact on your case. An attorney who focuses in personal injury can really make a difference by using his years of experience to a build a strong case for you.
Before a personal injury case proceeds to trial, in most cases, each party will bring a series of motions to both dispose of the case prior to trial or to set the rules for trial.
For instance, many times, the defendant will bring a motion for summary judgment, alleging that, after discovery, there are no more issues of fact to be determined by the jury, and based on the facts of the case, there is no way the plaintiff could prove his case at trial, and so the case should be dismissed by the court. Courts are generally reluctant to take a case out of the hands of the jury so these motions are rarely granted. The parties may also bring pre-trial motions to set the "rules" for the trial.
For instance, a motion in limine, may be brought by one of the parties asking the court to exclude certain evidence from being introduced at trial on the basis that it might unfairly prejudice the jury's decision without having substantial value to deciding the personal injury case. Motion practice can drag on for a few months but is absolutely necessary to the judicial process. Your personal injury attorney's experience will shine during this process.
In a pre-trial, the judge will meet with both parties and review the evidence that will be presented. The court will often recommend a settlement amount or will appoint a neutral third party who attempts to resolve the personal injury case or narrow the issues that will be heard at trial.
In many states, smaller claims are subject to mandatory arbitration before going to trial.
Before the trial starts, both parties will engage in jury selection or voir dire. Jury selection is a process by which both parties' attorneys are given an opportunity to question potential jurors to identify biases that might impact a juror's ability to make a fair judgment about the facts of the case.
Over time, this process has become more and more sophisticated. In some large cases, attorneys even hire consultants who are experts in human behavior to make recommendations to the lawyer about which jurors to accept and which jurors to object. The more highly experienced your personal injury attorney, the more likely he is to be skilled at jury selection. Which jurors hear your case will have a direct impact on your personal injury case.
When all else fails, and the parties cannot reach a settlement, the personal injury case goes to trial. Getting a court date can sometimes be a challenge due to overcrowded dockets.
In many jurisdictions, you may not proceed to trial for two to five years. The trial process is time consuming and expensive. Only a very small percentage of cases go to trial and even fewer go to verdict.
If either side is unhappy with the verdict, they may petition the court for leave to file an appeal with the Court of Appeals. This is a long, expensive and arduous process and very few decisions are over-turned by the appeals court.
Discuss Your Case with a Local Personal Injury Lawyer
If you’ve been injured, you have enough on your plate—don’t spend time worrying about legal paperwork. Connect with a personal injury attorney today and jumpstart the path toward justice and fair compensation.
The above summary is for informational purposes only and is not all-inclusive. For legal advice and the latest information on personal injury law, contact a local personal injury attorney.