Even if you know that you have a valid potential lawsuit after sustaining an injury, you may not know what the next step is towards recovery. Preparing for and beginning your personal lawsuit can be an intimidating and complex process. But, with the help of your attorney, you should be able to navigate the waters efficiently. In this article, we will cover what to expect out of the process.
At the scene of your accident – whatever type of accident – try to gather photographic evidence and contact information for witnesses and others involved. Your first step once you leave the scene of the accident should be to seek medical attention. Once you are out of danger, speak to a lawyer for car accident injuries immediately. You and your lawyer together can then begin collecting information in preparation for your claim. Before you actually file your claim, you may want to speak with the potential defendant or their insurance provider to see if a settlement can be reached. If not, you file your lawsuit in the appropriate court and move into the pre-trial phase known as discovery. You can choose to accept a settlement offer at any point before or even during the trial process. Depending on the complexity of your case, the length of your trial may last from less than a week to several months.
At the Scene of the Accident
When you are injured, it may be difficult to function with a clear head. However, it is critical that you gather as much evidence as possible at the time of the accident. Take pictures of the scene of the accident and the unsafe conditions that may have caused your injuries. For instance, if you were injured in a car accident, you should be photographing tire tracks on the street as well as the damage to the cars involved. You should also attempt to obtain insurance information from those who might be responsible for the accident.
If there are witnesses to the accident, getting contact information for them can be vital for the success of your potential claim. Once you leave the scene, you might have no way of contacting the people who saw exactly what happened. Even if you ultimately end up not needing them, having the word of a third party on your side is always a plus for your credibility in a personal injury claim.
Seeking Medical Care
Non-legally speaking, you should ensure that you are out of any immediate danger and that your injuries are fully diagnosed and documented for your own safety.
Legally, immediately seeking medical assistance has multiple benefits. For one, by minimizing the time between the accident that caused the injuries and the diagnosis of the injuries, a personal injury plaintiff will leave less doubt in the minds of a jury that the accident was the cause of their injuries. Further, there is a likelihood that a jury might assume that a plaintiff who delayed seeking medical attention did not feel that their injuries were severe enough. That hurts your credibility if you are now suing and claiming they were indeed severe.
Calling a Lawyer
No matter how serious your injuries are, you maximize your chances of recovery by enlisting the help of a personal injury attorney early on. Your attorney can gather evidence, negotiate with insurance representatives, and file legal paperwork on your behalf so that you reduce your chances of making a costly mistake.
You should start out by providing your attorney with a full account of your injuries and the accident that caused them. Do not leave out any details, even if they may seem insignificant to you. You should also give your attorney all of the documentation of your medical care. This includes medical records as well as expenses associated with your care that you incurred following the injury.
What to Do with Settlement Offers
You do not need to go all the way to court to recover financially for your personal injury claim. Most defendants in personal injury suits will be happy to negotiate a settlement agreement that keeps both sides out of court, particularly if an insurance company is involved.
However, be wary of early settlement offers. Defendants with deep pockets will often try to get you to bite on a settlement agreement that severely undercuts the value of the compensation you stand to win in court. You should also have a clear picture of the extent of your injuries and the care required before you settle on a final figure. Remember that settlements can be negotiated and agreed to at any point along the way, so there is no issue with turning down the first offer you see.
Filing Your Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you cannot agree to an amicable settlement deal, your next step is to file your claim. Again, this will not bar you from agreeing to settle with the other side at a later date. Your attorney will file your official complaint with the appropriate court and serve your opponent with notice of the suit. Shortly after, you will receive your trial date.
Discovery and Trial
The discovery phase takes place before your trial and provides a chance for each side to retrieve and examine evidence for their arguments. Discovery also involves acquiring and deposing witnesses, which can be critical for proving your case.
The trial process can be intimidating for those who are not used to being in a courtroom, but your personal injury attorney should be able to guide you along. Trials for personal injuries that are particularly complicated, such as those stemming from medical malpractice, can take more time. But personal injury attorneys typically work on contingency fees, which means that you won’t have to worry about paying up until your case is resolved or settled.