What to Expect After You Hire a Lawyer for Your Personal Injury Case
If you’ve been seriously injured in an accident, by medical malpractice or negligence or through the actions or inaction of another, you may have a valid personal injury case. Once you go through the process of choosing and hiring a personal injury attorney, you may wonder what the process will be from there and how a personal injury case works. Here are the steps that a personal injury case usually follows and what you can expect:
#1 Investigating Your Claim
Once you’ve engaged a lawyer, they will begin to build the foundations
of the case. This starts with investigating how you were injured and what
the extent of your injuries are. Your attorney will review your medical
records, review the expenses already incurred including medical bills,
time lost from work and other costs.They will initiate contact with the
relevant insurance companies in this phase and any other attorneys that
may be working for the person or business that injured you. During this
time, you should let your lawyer proceed with their investigation while
you focus on recuperating from your injuries.
#2 Determining Whether to File a Lawsuit or Negotiate
In many types of personal injury cases (more frequently with car accidents), a lawsuit need not be filed to get you the compensation you are due. Insurance companies usually don’t want to go through the expense and hassle of a court battle, especially if it’s clear that their client is to blame or they are the responsible financial party. Instead, they will want to negotiate to try and get the lowest possible payment to you. Your lawyer’s job is to push back and negotiate fair compensation for what has happened to you. Your attorney will keep you apprised on how settlement negotiations are progressing.
#3 Filing a Lawsuit
If the settlement negotiations don’t result in a reasonable offer or the insurance companies dig in their heels and insist on a fight, filing a lawsuit may be the next logical step. This is a tactic insurance companies sometimes try hoping your attorney will not want to fight it out in court. That’s why it’s important that your attorney has trial experience and isn’t scared to litigate. Your attorney may have to file a lawsuit to demonstrate that you are serious about your injury claim and are ready to take your case to the next level.
#4 Attempt to Mediate
Once a lawsuit is filed, either side can request mediation – also known as alternative dispute resolution – to try and reach an agreeable settlement without resorting to a trial. Sometimes, the judge may order the parties to try and reach a compromise in mediation. If this happens, your lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company lawyers and try to reach a settlement that will fairly compensate you for your injuries, pain and suffering. Many personal injury lawsuits that reach the filing stage are able to be settled in mediation. If they can’t come to terms or the mediation is otherwise unsuccessful, the case will proceed to trial.
#5 Going to Trial
Your personal injury case may be tried in front of only a judge or a judge and jury. Your lawyer will present your case, explaining what was done to you, why the other party is responsible and what damages you are seeking. Then the insurance company lawyers will have their say and try to defend the actions of their client or imply you are somehow responsible for your injuries or damages. The verdict made by the judge (and/or jury) will pronounce whether they found the defendant liable (responsible for) your injuries and how much in damages the defendant must pay.