The steps of a personal injury lawsuit:
· Retaining an attorney: To begin any claim or lawsuit, you should always find a trustworthy personal injury lawyer. In many cases, the key difference between a fair settlement received and nothing at all is the attorney’s influence and expertise.
· Investigating Your Case: Your attorney will research your case at this stage to fully understand how you were injured and the extent of your injuries, damages, and costs. He or she will then contact and deal with the insurance company directly and possibly with the attorney representing the party who injured you. Your attorney will keep you aware of any negotiations and significant developments throughout the lawsuit process. Your focus should be on getting the medical attention you need and returning to your normal routine.
· Pre-suit negotiations: This is your first chance to end your personal injury claim. After seeing the facts and hearing the initial arguments compiled by your attorney, the insurance company’s adjuster may decide to calculate an initial settlement offer. If the offer is fair, then your attorney may suggest you accept it and the case will conclude. In many situations, initial settlement offers are deliberately low, though. Do not be surprised if your attorney recommends you not take the first deal.
· Lawsuit filing: Assuming that the previous step was not the final step of your personal injury claim, you will now need to actually file a lawsuit against the liable party or insurance company. Once your lawsuit is filed, the insurance provider should recognize that you are willing to go through whatever lengths are necessary to receive compensation and justice. This may be enough to influence them to offer a better settlement.
· Discovery process: Your personal injury lawsuit is a two-sided affair. What does the opposition know that you do not? Is the insurance company planning on submitting key evidence you do not know exists? The discovery process allows your personal injury attorney to share critical information, like interrogatories and depositions, with the opposing counsel, and vice versa.
· Case Evaluation: The case will be submitted to a panel that evaluates the claim, determines how much compensation the plaintiff should receive, and presents its findings to both sides of the case. If you and the opposition think this new evaluated amount is fair, you both can accept it and the case concludes.
· Going To Mediation: Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that can be requested at any time during the court case. It involves both parties, their attorneys, and a neutral mediator who acts like a referee between the parties. During mediation, both sides present their case and engage in settlement negotiations as facilitated by the mediator. The great majority of personal injury claims conclude during this step.
· Trial: In uncommon circumstances, step 7 will not end a personal injury case, a trial will be necessary to reach the end. The trial process will be explained in greater detail in a separate blog post.