The Process Of A Personal Injury Case
In personal injury cases involving insurance companies an effective lawyer is usually able to obtain a settlement that fairly compensates an injured person. Sometimes, though, cases need to go to trial. Here’s how a personal injury case usually plays out.
The first part of any personal injury case is the injury itself. Sometimes, injuries stem from one event, like a car crash. In other cases, injuries are sustained over longer periods of time, such as when a defective product causes an illness.
Additionally, a person’s injuries may involve more than an accident, as lost wages, emotional damages, and other types of injuries can persist well into the future after a harmful event occurs. Either way, taking record of your injuries and when they occur is the first step to getting a personal injury case started.
Talking to a Lawyer
After you decide that you’re interested in pursuing a lawsuit, you should identify a lawyer you’re interested in working with. Many personal injury lawyers provide free consultations, where an attorney can listen to your story and evaluate whether you have a claim that could be successful. Furthermore, most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you owe no money upfront until you receive a settlement or a judgment. If you and the lawyer agree to work together, you would usually sign a paper to begin your representation.
Once you and your attorney decide to work together, your attorney will begin gathering all of the evidence that he or she will need to make your case. After a lawsuit is filed, this process is referred to as discovery, but even before filing a lawsuit, your attorney will still gather evidence and assess the information.
Demand and Negotiation
Next, you and your attorney will work together to talk about your goals, and determine what amount of money would reasonably compensate you for your injuries. In legal terms, that amount is referred to as your initial demand. Your lawyer will make an initial demand to the other party (or their insurance company) as a way to offer a settlement so as to avoid litigation. Some cases settle at this stage, either in response to the initial demand, or after short negotiation.
Trial and Litigation
Sometimes settlement negotiations aren’t successful at first, and a case needs to proceed to litigation. That can occur for many reasons, but most often, it’s because the other side isn’t offering a settlement that reasonably compensates the injured person.
The litigation process begins when your lawyer serves a lawsuit on the opposing party. After a lawsuit is initiated, your lawyer will take the information that he or she collected during their initial investigation and start putting together a trial strategy. Depositions will be conducted, which are extended interviews of witnesses. Information and evidence will be exchanged between the parties, and after the process plays out, a trial will occur. Most often, a settlement deal is reached before trial, but in some cases, a matter will proceed to trial, where your lawyer will present your case to a jury and a judge.