How the Personal Injury Claim Process WorksBy Goodman Acker P.C. | June 05, 2017
Everyone who files a personal injury claim wants to know how long it will be until the process ends and they receive their fair compensation. Some cases are going to settle in only a few weeks but others could take upwards of two years due to complications and a massive total of damages. However, regardless of the full duration of a claim’s timeline, or the type of accident that calls for a claim, each case is going to move through the same series of steps from start to finish.
The 11 steps of a personal injury lawsuit will always be:
- Retaining an attorney: To begin any claim or lawsuit, you should always find a trustworthy personal injury lawyer. Think of the legal landscape like a real new frontier. You would not want to trek across unfamiliar territory without a guide, so why would you start a claim without an attorney? In many cases, the key difference between a fair settlement received and nothing at all is the attorney’s influence and expertise.
- Investigate the case: What actually happened in your accident? Your attorney will start collecting and researching specific data, evidence, and information to find out. Each case will have a unique set of data to investigate. A car accident case might have an accident report, a medical malpractice claim could have medical records, and so on.
- Medical treatment: You and anyone else injured in the accident needs to start receiving all recommended medical treatments. Failing to follow a doctor’s orders to the letter could increase the injured party’s liability. Remember that you and your personal injury attorney will be fighting for maximized compensation that pays for all your medical bills. Do not hesitate to get treated based on price – your health is paramount.
- At-fault insurance liability: At this point in a personal injury claim, your lawyer should have a good idea who is at-fault for what happened. The insurance company of the responsible party will be notified that their client has been identified as liable for damages. Policy limits will be reviewed as well.
- 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 step 5 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.
- Evaluation and mediation: 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. The great majority of personal injury claims conclude in step 8, as most people and insurance companies do not want to spend too much time on a single case.
- Trial preparation: In uncommon circumstances, step 8 will not end a personal injury case. A trial will be necessary to reach the end. Before the trial starts, your attorney will prepare diligently to make a case that influences a judge and jury, by empowering your argument, dismantling the argument of the opposition, or both. All the evidence found in step 2 will be a centerpiece of step 9.
- Courtroom trial: With your attorney by your side, or fully acting on your behalf, you will go to trial against the opposition. Insurance companies try to stay away from courtroom trials since these can be costly to defend and also bring your case to the public’s attention, which could be negative PR. In the middle of a trial, you may be offered another settlement offer to conclude it quietly. Always check with your personal injury lawyer before signing any settlement offer.
- Conclusion: After any amount of days – ranging from less than a week to a few months – the trial will end and the jury must give a verdict. If your attorney has succeeded in presenting your story convincingly, then the jury will present you with a fair settlement, or jury award. Many of these jury awards will also include the legal costs associated with the trial.
Do you have questions about the legal process of a personal injury lawsuit? Goodman Acker P.C. and our Detroit personal injury lawyers would be happy to answer them during a free consultation. Just dial (248) 793-2010 to connect with our team, learn about your rights, and discover what our legal services can do for a claim of your own.