If this is your first time filing a personal injury lawsuit, you are not alone. For most people, filing a personal injury lawsuit is something they will only have to experience once in their lifetime. That is why most people also are unaware of the steps involved in this process, unfamiliar with how the lawsuit will proceed and, more than anything, how soon they can expect to receive the compensation they are claiming for their injuries.
Following the advice of your personal injury lawyer, you may be in the process of filing a personal injury claim. This legal action addresses only the civil aspect of your case but not any criminal charges you may bring at a later date. That being said, you can expect that your personal injury lawsuit will follow this pathway:
Turn to a Personal Injury Lawyer
Once you select the personal injury attorney you will be working with, you need to have a session during which you will better understand what to expect as far as timeline and possible compensation. To help your lawyer have a full picture of what you experienced, bring the police report if you have one. If you have the information of the party that caused your injuries, bring that as well.
At this point, you will also need to share all aspects of your injuries and the steps you have taken to recover your health. Hand your lawyer any medical bills and explain what bills you are still expecting to receive, particularly if you are expecting your injuries and their effects to be long-lasting. Mention also any other expenses you have incurred due to the accident. Give your lawyer as honest an assessment as possible of how these injuries are affecting your life, whether you can no longer engage in activities you used to enjoy previously or if you have been unable to go back to work.
The Investigation Will Start
Your statement and evidence serve as a starting point for your lawyer. After that, it will be necessary to gather statements from witnesses. It is important to perform this as soon as possible since people tend to forget what happened or may later be difficult to track down. If there is video in a security camera of the place where you were injured or in cameras from nearby businesses, it will be reviewed and added as evidence.
Your lawyer may decide that the testimony of an expert witness is required to help decipher exactly how the accident happened or what medical care you will need in the long run.
A Claim Will Be Filed
Depending on the nature of the accident, a single claim against the other party may be filed. If there are multiple parties involved, several claims need to be prepared and filed. Within the claim package, your lawyer will include all the details of your injuries as well as the compensation you are seeking. The information will be clear and thorough enough for the insurance company or the lawyer of the other party to understand the impact your injuries have had on your life and finances. The aim is for this information to be enough to help in achieving a quicker and better resolution of the case.
Negotiations Will Begin
It may happen that, after receiving the claim, the insurance company will immediately answer and offer you a settlement. Review it with your attorney, consider the limitations imposed by the insurance policy, and whether the offer has reached the policy´s limits. Decide if this amount satisfies your financial needs as they relate to the accident. If you accept, the paperwork can be signed. You may expect the funds to be in your hands soon after.
If you decide not to accept the offered amount, you may find that the sole fact that you are working with an attorney may make the insurance company willing to offer you more. If they are not willing to increase the amount, it may be necessary for negotiations to begin in earnest in order to reach an agreement on an amount that will satisfy your financial needs. If an agreement is reached, the process will stop at this point and you may not start it again in the future, liberating the insurance company from any further liability.
Taking Matters to Court
In cases when no agreement can be reached, it is necessary to go a step further and take the claim to court. The court case will include several phases. The first one is discovery, when both parties will have the opportunity to gather more information on the case from witnesses, videos, and other sources. During the mediation phase, you once again have an opportunity to negotiate, this time through a mediator. A neutral mediator will meet with both parties and their attorneys in order to reach a resolution.
When no agreement is possible the case goes to trial. At this point, a judge or a jury will hear your case as well as the arguments presented by the opposite party. After this, a final ruling will be issued.
At this point, you may either be satisfied with the resolution or, if you find it unsatisfactory, you may file an appeal. The other party has this same right. Although you may end up receiving a higher amount after the appeal, you may discover that the process will take much longer and your legal expenses may also increase.
Having a personal injury lawyer by your side throughout this process will be of great help to you. Starting with the initial claims package that needs to be put together and ending with the trial or an appeal, the advice, and support offered by a lawyer will not only reassure you that the process is being carried out correctly but will increase your odds of receiving a satisfactory resolution. That is why it is crucial for you to contact an attorney as soon as possible after you have taken care of your injuries. The sooner you start, the sooner the compensation you deserve will be in your hands.
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