Understanding a personal injury lawsuit timeline can help a victim cope with the stress and emotional challenges that may arise with the processing of his case. Though the time and process may be different in some states, on the average, the process is complicated and time-consuming.
Unfortunately, a high percentage of Americans are unaware of the workings of the judicial proceedings both for civil and criminal cases. Because of this, it is extremely important that auto accident attorneys, for example, communicate the personal injury claim process to their clients before filing.
Regrettably, some lawyers fail to give clients the right information and instead promise to expedite action on the case to impress the victim to hire them. This practice is wrong and against legal ethics.
It is your right as a person who has a personal injury claim to know every step of the lawsuit. The right knowledge will help you prepare for any outcome since most personal injury cases are unpredictable.
This article will walk you through a step-by-step approach to understanding the personal injury lawsuit timeline so you’d know what to expect.
1Seek Medical Attention
Immediately following an accident, it is paramount for the victim to seek medical care in order to minimize the severity of injuries. Whether it is a ‘slip and fall’ or ‘car accident,’ a hospital visit is necessary.
This single action will give you an edge if your insurance company tries to prove that there was no injury at all. Secondly, an immediate hospital visit will prove a point to the jury that you were hurt.
2Talk To A Lawyer
It is important to consult a lawyer if you suffer significant injury or other losses in an accident. If you are afraid of the cost, then take advantage of law firms who offer free consultations and discuss the situation with them.
It is necessary that you take this step because a lawyer can give you the right advice and help. He’ll guide you on how you can get a better settlement than the insurance companies initially offer. Keep in mind that most lawyers offer their services for FREE and in return takes 30%-40% if a settlement is reached.
To find the right personal injury lawyers, you can find them on Google, Newspapers, Lawyers Review and Rating websites such as Findlaw.com, Lawyers.com, etc. There are also sites targeting specific ethnic groups such as ChineseLawyersInfo.com, Japanese Speaking Lawyers, etc..
3Commencement Of Investigations
The investigation of the claims and medical records will start immediately once the lawyer agrees that your claims are worth filing in the law court. You can justify this by answering relevant questions from the solicitor and giving him access to your medical records.
Most importantly, you need to give out all pertinent information and be honest about the accident and your medical condition to avoid surprises in the courtroom.
4Attorney Files An Insurance Claim
Most personal injury cases get settled out of court. However, it will still depend on the level of damage or loss suffered by the victim. Slip and fall accidents are mostly settled out of court. Auto accidents, on the other hand, are most likely resolved through the court process. An experienced attorney may get a reasonable settlement for his client from the insurance company.
In the case of a car accident, the lawyer should first submit the claims to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. After that, the claim will be investigated and compensation will be paid.
If the accident results in permanent disability, the lawyer will activate the Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) aspect of the law. This will help the victim get a resounding victory and much higher settlement in the case.
5The Attorney Files A Lawsuit
Filing a lawsuit comes into play when the insurance company does not settle claims out of court, and your attorney sees no other option than to file a lawsuit.
The preliminary timeline for filing a personal injury lawsuit is as follows:
- Serving appropriate documents to the defendant should take from 30 to 60 days.
- The stipulated time for a response from the defendant, meanwhile, is within 30 days. In some cases, they may ask for additional days.
The parties will then exchange information related to the accident and this will involve complaints and counterclaims
This stage of the legal process is meant to dislodge surprises that may arise during the main court sessions. At this juncture, each party (the plaintiff and the defendant) investigates one another using the documents and evidence submitted.
It has two major processes: interrogations and depositions. The first one requires parties to provide documents which will be useful during the court sessions. The latter, meanwhile, involves questions and answers from any witnesses.
7The Mediation Stage
Following disclosure of the interrogations and depositions, attorneys may agree on certain terms. This can potentially lead to a peaceful settlement which is why this stage is also called as the ‘alternative dispute resolution’ stage.
This is the last stage of the personal injury lawsuit timeline. All the parties must be present in court for the jury to go through the documents and interrogate the witnesses. The length of such cases can last for weeks or months.
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9Author: Jessica Whitton
I'm an entrepreneur, blogger, mother, and paralegal. I currently run two online businesses and a freelance writing service at WrittenByJess.com. When I'm not working, I love to spend time with my daughter and help to further my education.