Most people are unaware of the steps they need to take in order to file a personal injury claim. There are specific steps that every bodily injury attorney will advise you on in order to start the claim process.
Seek Medical Treatment
As we have mentioned before, the most important thing for you to do is to seek medical attention for your injuries right away. Not only is it the right thing to do for your health, but if you do not seek the necessary medical attention for your injuries, the insurance adjuster and the jury may conclude that your injuries were not that serious.
Meet With & Choose a Lawyer
The next important step to take in filing a claim is to choose the lawyer that is right for you. While it is indeed possible to settle a personal injury claim on your own, a personal injury lawyer is well versed and equipped to handle cases where there has been significant damages.
Always go with the bodily injury attorney that you feel will represent you to the best of their ability. It is okay to be picky when it comes to representation. Making your wishes known from the beginning and keeping an open line of communication is important.
Your Lawyer Will Review Medical Records
The first thing your personal injury attorney will do is thoroughly interview you to get a sense of what happened during the accident. They will get your background, medical condition, and medical treatment in order to learn everything they possibly can about your accident and the subsequent treatment. Do your best to answer all questions as honestly as you can, as lawyers do not like being surprised; difficulties can arise if you are not honest about the details of your accident.
The next step your accident attorney will take is the collection of medical records and bills relating to the injuries you sustained. Be advised, this process can take months so it is best to be as patient as possible.
After the medical records come in, your attorney will review them to see if you do indeed have a case. Your lawyer will be able to determine if there is a case or not early on.
Lawyer Will Consider Demand & Negotiations
Many personal injury claims that are considered “small” will most likely be settled outside of court; in negotiations. If your claim involves permanent injury to you or a loved one, a good bodily injury lawyer will not settle your case without filing a law suit.
A reputable personal injury attorney will not begin the process of making a demand until the plaintiff (the one who is suffering from injuries) has reached what is called the point of maximum medical improvement – or MMI. MMI is when the injured party has ended all medical treatment for the injuries they sustained due to an accident and has recovered insofar as much as they are going to recover. Most bodily injury attorneys wait until their client has reached MMI – this is because they are not certain how much the case will be worth until after you have completed treatment. Another reason your personal injury attorney should never file a suit until MMI is because the jury may undervalue the case if it ends up going to trial.
Any decent attorney knows that it can take month to almost years for the injured party to reach MMU, but a good lawyer will wait – as long as the injured party can afford to. If the injured party cannot afford to wait, your attorney will then, of course, file a suit as soon as possible.
Filing the Lawsuit
At the time the lawsuit is filed, that is when the clock will start running on when the case will be taken to trial. Every state has a set of different procedures, but in general, it can take one to two years for a personal injury case to go to trial. Your personal injury attorney will be sure to file the lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires.
The process of discovery in one in which each party investigates what the other legal claims are. They send interrogatories – questions – and other related document requests to one another and take the depositions (statements) of the defendant and the plaintiff; followed by other relevant witnesses. Depending upon the court’s deadlines and the complexity of the case, the process of discovery can last six months to a year.
Mediation & Negotiation
As the discovery process ends, the attorneys will begin the process of talking about a settlement. Oftentimes, lawyers can settle your case by talking amongst themselves; sometimes they need to go to mediation. Mediation is the process in which both the clients and the lawyers go in front of a court appointed mediator to try to settle the case.
In most personal injury cases, negotiating in mediation works, but on the rare occasion that it doesn’t, the case will be scheduled for trial. A personal injury trial can last anywhere from a day, a week, or longer; depending on the complexity of the case. One very important thing to remember is, just because a case is scheduled for trial, that does. not mean that the trial will actually occur on that date. Trials will often be rescheduled due to the judge’s schedule. If your trial is cancelled, do not automatically assume that something is working against you.
If you have been injured in an accident and are in need of a personal injury attorney, contact Silverthorne Attorneys today! Consultations are free!