It’s not every day that you find yourself in a car accident – and that’s really a good thing! The unknown after an accident can be confusing and intimidating. If you’ve never been in an accident before, you likely don’t have any understanding of what you can expect as your case unfolds.
Below, we will go into detail regarding the sequence of events that make up a personal injury case.
Interview and Hire an Attorney
If your case is severe enough to warrant legal representation, the first step toward compensation is to look around for an attorney. You may seek recommendations from friends and family or simply look online.
We always recommend that before you make the decision to hire someone, interview a few individuals that you believe would make good candidates. Most law firms will offer free consultations for this exact reason. It’s important to see who will be a good fit for you and your case. As with any industry, no two attorneys are alike!
Presuit: Gathering Information, Treating Injuries, Repairing Property Damage
Once you’ve hired an attorney, they will work closely with you to gather the necessary documentation, whether it be medical records, police reports, eyewitness accounts, or any other details that will help your case. If your injuries are more substantial, your treatment may end up being more of an ongoing process.
During this time your attorney will be in contact with many key players in your case – your insurance company, doctors, and any other individual that may need to be contacted regarding your case. This part of the process can take some time. Since this relies on additional parties, there can be a lot of wait time before your attorney receives the necessary documents.
In most cases, your attorney will be doing their best to stay on top of others to ensure deadlines are met and your case continues to progress. However, if you do find that your attorney is slipping up and dropping the ball, it may be best to seek other options.
You might be interested in this blog: How To Switch Lawyers
More often than not, a personal injury case will end in a settlement. A lawsuit may be filed if a settlement cannot be reached, but that is the last resort. Trials can be expensive for the at-fault party and insurance companies would rather avoid it if possible.
In order to reach a settlement, your attorney will create a demand letter. In most cases, this will be sent to your insurance company to inform them that you are working with a lawyer to pursue compensation for injuries and damages caused by the accident.
Your attorney will use the evidence and other details gathered during their investigation to create the letter. These important details will be used as evidence to prove the need for compensation. The letter will describe your demands, as described by your attorney, with details on how to proceed.
After the letter is sent, there will be a bit of a wait time again, while you wait for a response. Your insurance company could completely reject the letter, respond with negotiations, or they very well could accept your demands.
Your attorney will handle negotiations. And if your demands are rejected, it’s important that you discuss your options going forward with your attorney.
If a fair settlement cannot be reached, you and your attorney may decide to take the case into litigation.
Litigation is the process of suing the negligent party (or insurance of the negligent person) who caused your injuries. This is the part that is called “filing a lawsuit.” There are several steps involved in litigation. Here is some more information on the litigation process from Attorney Joe Regalado:
Personal Injury Trial
If a settlement can still not be met during mediation or while the case is in litigation, a trial may be necessary. The timeline of personal injury trials can vary depending on the severity from one day to even thirty days or more.
It’s important to remember that Personal Injury Attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, so there really is no incentive for them to drag your case out. The longest part of a personal injury case is the treatment of injuries, which needs to be done before a settlement letter is sent. Oftentimes conservative treatment like chiropractic care and other non-invasive options can take months to get you back to feeling yourself again.
The best piece of advice we can give you is to not focus on the timeline of your treatment and just focus on getting better.
Have questions about a potential case? Call us today at 727-888-3925!