When you are injured because of the negligent or intentional conduct of somebody else, you have a right to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages. However, all personal injury cases are different, meaning that there are many different ways to handle these types of matters. While a personal injury claim might vary from case to case, there are some steps through which these claims generally proceed. What are the steps in a personal injury lawsuit?
What Are the Steps in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
No matter how your injury happened, your claim will likely go through some specific steps as it proceeds. Your attorney can help you understand this process. What are the steps in a personal injury lawsuit? Let’s briefly explore each of the common phases of a personal injury claim:
1. Getting Medical Treatment
Immediately after your injury accident, you should seek medical care to obtain a proper diagnosis of your injuries. Getting immediate medical care can help you to recover faster. It can also help to demonstrate a link between your accident and the injuries that you suffered as a result.
2. Consulting with a Personal Injury Lawyer
After you have received medical care, the next step in your personal injury claim should be consulting with an experienced injury lawyer. Your attorney will talk to you about the circumstances of your case, including all of the following factors:
- Whether another party’s negligence was involved
- Whether there are sources of recovery
- The severity and extent of your injuries
- Your medical expenses and income losses
- The legal options you have
Our lawyers offer free consultations to people who have been injured in accidents.
3. Investigating Your Case
After you retain a lawyer, your attorney will thoroughly investigate your claim. He or she will review police reports, investigate the accident scene, review photographs, interview witnesses, analyze your medical records and bills, and review your work history and ability to earn an income. Your attorney might work with medical experts, accident reconstruction experts, and other experts from a variety of different fields. During the investigative process, your lawyer will also examine the potential defenses that might be raised and make a liability determination. Throughout the entire process, your attorney will keep you informed so that you know the state of your case.
4. Issuing the Demand Letter
After your attorney has completed the initial investigation, a demand letter will be drafted and sent to the opposing party’s insurance company and attorney. The demand letter will outline your legal claims and list your damages. In response, the insurance company or defense lawyer may reject your demand, accept it, or make a counteroffer. The defendant’s response will dictate how your claim proceeds. In some cases, the claims will settle without filing a formal lawsuit. In others, a lawsuit may be necessary.
5. Filing a Personal Injury Claim
If the insurance company denies your claim or makes an unreasonably low counteroffer, it may be necessary to file a formal lawsuit. The lawsuit is initiated by filing a civil complaint in the court with the proper jurisdiction. After your complaint is filed, the court will issue a summons. You will need to have the complaint and summons served on the opposing party. The defendant will then be given time to file an answer in which he or she answers the allegations of your complaint.
6. Going Through Discovery
After the complaint and answer have been filed, the case will enter the discovery phase. During this time, both parties must exchange the evidence that they have. The discovery phase might also include interrogatories and depositions. During discovery, your lawyer will continue negotiating with the opposing party to try to resolve your claim.
7. Going to Trial
Most personal injury claims are resolved before they proceed to trial. However, if the defendant refuses to settle, your claim might have to go to trial before a jury or judge. During the trial phase, both sides will present evidence and testimony. The judge or jury will be tasked with analyzing the evidence, determining fault, and issuing a verdict. If the judge or jury issues a verdict in your favor, you may be awarded damages.
If either you or the defendant is unhappy with the verdict, an appeal may be filed. The appeals process is very different from the trial process and can take an extended period of time. The appeals court may affirm the trial court’s findings or overturn them. If the case is sent back, it may be rescheduled for a new trial.
Call the Law Offices of Craig L. Cook
The injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Craig L. Cook handle many different types of personal injury claims. If you would like to learn about your claim and the options that might be available to you, contact us today to request a free consultation.