Table of Contents – Timeline of a Personal Injury Case
- Accident or Injury Occurs
- Receive Medical Attention
- Contact an Attorney
- Investigation of Claims and Medical Records
- Filing an Insurance Claim
- Demanding a Settlement
- Filing a Lawsuit
If you were injured or made ill because of someone else’s negligence, there’s a good chance you are wondering what’s going to happen and how everything will play out. Well, the fact of the matter is that every case is unique, with different sets of facts and different processes to go through to get a resolution. But, there are some elements of a personal injury case that are pretty consistent. Understanding these steps in the timeline of a personal injury case will give you a much clearer idea of what to expect next and how the process moves from step to step.
Keep in mind that not all of the elements will apply to your case. Additionally, the steps of an individual case they may not go in this specific order. For example, most personal injury cases are settled before the case ever goes to trial. In these situations, the last couple steps will not apply to you but they are important to understand if your personal injury claim cannot be settled without a lawsuit.
Accident or Injury Occurs
When an accident occurs, it can be difficult to think about anything other than the immediate situation at hand. However, if you’re physically able, taking pictures of the aftermath as well as any contributing factors will support your case in the future. Photos of any visible injuries can help to prove the extent of the damages. Following a car accident, photos and videos of the vehicles, markings on the road, and street signs can help to make your case.
Similarly, in the event of a workplace accident or slip and fall accident, photos that prove the area is unsafe can illustrate the other party’s negligence. Regardless of the nature of the accident, collecting contact information from those involved as well as a police report and statements from witnesses can strengthen your case.
Receive Medical Attention
Your health is always the number one priority. Even if you don’t feel extreme pain, a doctor may notice signs of injury that you don’t notice either through observations or diagnostic tools. For instance, TBIs and internal bleeding are common, serious injuries, but their effects aren’t necessarily immediately obvious.
It’s critical to receive medical attention as soon as possible as it could prevent further injury. It can even impact whether your insurance claim is accepted or denied. After Florida car accidents, those involved must seek medical attention within 14 days for insurance purposes.
Contact an Attorney
In most cases, you have four years from the date of an accident to lodge a personal injury claim and two years to file a medical malpractice claim. However, as cases can be lengthy, most accident victims prefer to get the ball rolling as soon as they can after they’ve been injured.
Most personal injury attorneys offer free initial consultations. This helps you get an idea of how you want to proceed with your case before making any commitments.
The reason you hire an attorney is to recover as much compensation as possible. Before you hire an attorney, you’ll agree upon fees so that there won’t be any surprise expenses when your case is resolved. Many personal injury lawyers agree to work on a contingency basis. This means you pay nothing unless your attorney is successful with your case.
Investigation of Claims and Medical Records
Your lawyer will want to know all the details of your case. No detail is too small. That’s why you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible after the event so that the details are fresh in your mind. This way you will be able to answer all questions thoroughly. If you had a chance to take notes and pictures at the accident site, you will share them with your attorney as well.
Your lawyer will also review your medical records and bills. This will allow your attorney to evaluate the extent of your injuries and the value of your case.
Filing an Insurance Claim
Your attorney will file a claim with the insurance company. The insurance company will assign an adjuster who will review medical documents and evidence to independently verify the extent of your injuries and the costs associated with them. Once the adjuster has reviewed those details, he or she will arrive at an amount the company can offer as compensation.
Demanding a Settlement
Your lawyer will send a demand letter for a sum of money to settle your case. Almost 90% of the cases get settled this way, but some cases do go to trial when lawyers and insurance companies cannot agree on an amount. Before accepting an offer, your attorney will share the figure with you to make sure it is an acceptable amount.
Filing a Lawsuit
If negotiations fail, your attorney will file a lawsuit. The defendant will be served the lawsuit and will have the opportunity to respond within 20 days.
Once a lawsuit has been filed, the discovery phase begins. In this phase both sides are trying to find out each other’s defenses and strategies. Each side will ask the other for documents which they think are relevant.
The next step is taking depositions. Both sides have a chance to ask verbal questions to witnesses, experts, and any other relevant people. Depositions are under oath, and generally the victim and the defendant are the first people to be questioned. Judges set time limits on the discovery process, and it is often a three to six months period.
Once all the information has been gathered, the court may require both parties to go to mediation. The mediator is generally a third-party attorney who will review the case, talk to both attorneys, and try to get them to come to an agreement.
Members of a jury will be randomly selected to participate. As the plaintiff, you’ll present your case. The defendant will have the same opportunity. Both sides will present witnesses who will be questioned by the lawyers. Once both sides have presented their case, each side will make closing arguments as a final chance to influence the case’s outcome. The jury will then meet privately to discuss the facts. Once a decision has been reached, the judge will bring the jury back into the courtroom and announce the decision.
Contact the Experienced St. Petersburg Attorneys at Jones Law Group
If you’re healing from an injury, and you’re considering filing a personal injury lawsuit, contact the dedicated personal injury attorneys at Jones Law Group. Our attorneys have successfully recovered maximum compensation for clients in personal injury cases of all natures, and we will represent you tirelessly as well. For a free consultation, contact us online, by chat, or by phone at 727-571-1333.