The steps in a personal injury case often seem a little much too quick and too soon. This is understandable as personal injury cases are very sensitive matters. Whatever the particularities of your case may be there are a set of general steps that apply to almost any personal injury.
According to a study published by the U.S. Department of Justice, motor vehicle incidents make up over 50% of all personal injury cases. Talk about too much, too quick, and too soon. The last thing one’s mind after being in a car accident is, ‘Hmm. I wonder if I have a claim for a personal injury case…’
It is not a good place to be mentally and physically — after experiencing any kind of incident or injury. Laws on this particular matter are confusing today more than ever. And with so many resources available at your fingertips, sometimes a simple Google search can be misleading.
Let’s go over some of the key steps in a personal injury case and clear up some doubts.
Plaintiff Seeks Medical Attention
Whether you were in a car accident, suffered some kind of malpractice, or even tripped and fell in a store, these types of injuries usually call for therapy and perhaps serious medical attention. Medical expenses will have a significant impact on the amount of damages one can claim. In most cases, these expenses can be recovered when related to injury and within reason.
The best thing you can do after the incident is to go see a doctor soon after the incident as some states have a statute of limitations or a deadline for filing personal injury lawsuits. Also, always keep an open line of communication with your insurance and check on your policy coverage details with them regularly.
Now might be a good time to consult with an attorney specialized in this field and consider proceeding with attempting to reach a settlement and/or filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Hiring A Personal Injury Attorney
First, you meet with a lawyer who specializes in personal injury cases. In this meeting, you should discuss the incident in detail, receive any advice given, and together determine which course of action to take.
Personal injury attorneys tend to work on what is known as a contingency basis. This essentially means you get a free consultation with the law firm to discuss the details of your case and receive answers to some of your questions. This will also be a chance to develop a plan based on how much your case may be worth and then agree on how much the attorney retains — contingent on whether or not you win and how much you can claim in damages.
One reason to hire a lawyer in this instance is because of how complex and layered the legal process can be, especially when dealing with personal injury cases. Another good reason is you stand to win a larger settlement with an attorney, according to personalinjuryking.com.
In this step, attorneys gather evidence, search documents and collect testimony that will serve to build their client’s respective case. Both sides will consult experts, cross-examine evidence, and make requests for other documents from one another.
A lot of the work in this phase is done delicately and expeditiously so as to protect the integrity of any discoveries. What you uncover in the process is not as important as how you do so.
Once decided on settling or heading to trial, attorneys have an opportunity to file motions for differing reasons. Plaintiffs, for instance, can file for summary judgment before going to trial when they believe there are no disputes on the key facts in the case. This is usually done to help resolve key issues such as reviewing evidence to be admitted in court.
Your attorney will advise you on the necessary paperwork to file and what exactly the next steps are from here. In most instances, it is best to settle and not take a case to trial because of the associated costs and timeline with such cases.
Also, seeing as how less than five percent of these cases ever make it to trial, the chances of having a positive outcome from heading there yourself seems unlikely.
Mediation / Settlement
Sometimes the parties involved in the incident decide it best to bring in a mediator and negotiate terms until they come to an agreement pre-trial. This depends on how much your case is worth and whether or not you can come to an agreement with the parties involved.
In most cases you want to avoid getting here; however, there are times where you may need to take your personal injury case to court and seek compensation. Typically a jury evaluates the facts presented by the plaintiff and defendant. Then they assign responsibility and determine if there are any damages to award. Personal injury cases go to trial when they cannot reach a settlement beforehand. This phase can take upwards of a year to two total.
Motions and Appeals
After all is said and done there are certain special circumstances that may justify a post-trial motion and/or appeal, depending on the specifics of the case.
Keep in Mind
Personal injury cases can seem like a lot to take on. Consult an attorney for free to get some answers to any questions you may have and advice on what your next steps should be.
When receiving medical treatment for your injury, check with your insurance to determine what kind of coverage you have. Personal injury cases tend to stack up the bills and you do not want to pay for anything you are not truly responsible for.
Whatever the details of your case are, this is a set of steps that apply to most personal injuries. Laws on this matter are more confusing today than ever before. And with so many resources available at hand it is hard to know who to listen to.
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