What Happens in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

shutterstock_264466154-300x200When you’re thinking of pursuing a personal injury lawsuit, you want to know what to expect. Obviously, you wish to have the positive result of being compensated for the injuries that you’ve suffered from due to the wrongdoer’s actions. Although all cases are different based on the specific set of circumstances and details, there are certain commonalties and certain phases that will occur for any personal injury suit.

Medical Treatment

The first step to take after any accident or incident is to seek out medical attention. Although you may not feel anything at the time, it’s a good idea to check with a physician just in case because many conditions may develop later. You will want to have a medical record for further documentation to establish your case.

Communication with Insurance Companies

Although some of these stages aren’t necessarily going to happen in a specific order, many times the insurance companies will attempt to settle with you even before you have gotten a lawyer. They can take advantage of victims, who are in a vulnerable state. Therefore, it’s pivotal to obtain legal representation if you decide to pursue a personal injury lawsuit.

Research for Legal Representation

If you decide to file a car accident claim or action for a slip and fail or medical malpractice, you will begin researching attorneys to represent you. You will want to work with someone who is experienced in the personal injury field. Keep in mind that there is a deadline or statute of limitations that you must meet to file a lawsuit. In California, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases allows an injured individual two years from the date of injury to go to court and file a lawsuit against the parties who may be at fault.

Investigation

For instance, if your personal injury is based on a vehicle collision, after you’ve hired counsel, the attorney will begin an investigation of their own. They will obtain police reports, talk to witnesses, and examine your medical treatment.

Pre-litigation Settlement Demand

Once your treatment for your injuries are complete your lawyer will gather all of the necessary medical and billing records. The attorney will then submit everything to the insurance company to negotiate a settlement on your behalf. If this can be done, the case will now be complete. However, if the insurance company is not fairly compensating you for your injuries, going into litigation is the next step to protect you and your statute of limitations.

Filing of the Lawsuit

The negotiations have failed, and you aren’t satisfied with the settlement offer. At this point, your lawyer will perform additional research and prepare to file the personal injury lawsuit. The following will take place:

  • The defendants are served: After the filing, defendants will be served with the appropriate documentation. Typically, the court requires that the defendants are served approximately 60 days from the date that the lawsuit was filed.
  • The defendants respond: After the defendants are served, they have another 30 days from the date that they were served, in which they must file documents in response.

Discovery

Discovery are a series of Interrogatories (questions) are asked by both side of the lawsuit and answered accordingly. This is the phase for both sides to investigate the matter further and see what the trial will truly be about. Is the defendant denying liability? Is the defendant denying injuries?

Defense Medical Exam

Insurance companies have the right to an independent doctor’s evaluation of the injuries. Your attorney is allowed to accompany you to this office visit to help preserve your rights in the visit.

Depositions

A deposition will usually occur within several months after the filing of the suit. It involves answering questions in an attorney’s office with a court reporter recording. There will also be depositions for expert witnesses who will be obtained closer to trial.

Mediation

If there still isn’t any resolution for a settlement, then the court generally orders a settlement conference by a knowledgeable neutral third party. The negotiations will continue as the mediator reviews the case. This is usually held between 9 to 18 months into the process.

Trial

There are two types of trials, a bench trial where the Judge makes the final decision and a jury trial where a group of your peers decide the fate of the lawsuit. The most common trial is the Jury Trial. However, most cases will never get to trial. If you do get to this end point, the trial can last anywhere between 4 days and 2 weeks, sometimes more, depending on the facts of your case.

Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer

If you’ve been hurt and you want to pursue a personal injury lawsuit, it’s good to know what to expect. All cases will be different, depending on the specific details. While understanding the process, you can easily comprehend how important a good lawyer is to help with your case. Get the expertise of a skilled PI attorney. A Walton Law attorney is ready to discuss your case. Contact us today.

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