Thank you for your question. There are many unknowns after an accident. What next? Here’s a general overview of what you can expect during this period:
Sign the Initial Documents
Signing a retainer agreement is the first step to hiring an attorney. This will allow your attorney to start working on your case. Many times, this paperwork includes signing authorizations that enable your attorney to obtain the records necessary to prove your case.
Send documents and information:
You will need to sign the retainer agreement, opening documents and provide your attorney all information and documents. You will need to provide your attorney with copies of your ID, photos, and insurance cards (automobile, health insurance), as well as any other evidence related to the incident. It is important to give details about the incident, including the time and location, the injuries and losses sustained, any missed work and if any witnesses were present. Your attorney should also have a complete list all of the healthcare providers and doctors who treated you. Not only is this important for the start of your case, but it’s also vital to keep attorneys informed as you seek further medical treatment. The attorney can then request all bills and medical records.
Negotiate a Pre-Litigation Settlement
After obtaining documents, attorneys will often send an insurance company a demand for a settlement. The demand will outline the facts of your case, describe your injuries and damages, as well as provide photos, medical records and bills. The demand will be reviewed by the insurance company, which will usually make a counteroffer. Negotiations will then follow.
Filing a Lawsuit
If your attorney is unable to negotiate a pre-litigation settlement they will file a lawsuit, which starts the litigation process. It is important to retain an attorney as soon after an accident as possible. A statute of limitations is the time limit within which you can file a suit. The type of case will determine the length of this statute of limitations. You will be barred from filing a lawsuit if you violate the statute of limitations.
Your attorney will locate the defendant and serve it on them. The defendant can then hire an attorney, or inform his/her/their insurer who will represent them. If the defendant hasn’t already hired one, the insurance company will employ a lawyer.
This is the most time-consuming phase in a case. It can take months to complete, depending on the facts of the case. Each side will ask the other for any evidence or information that supports their claims and arguments during discovery. Your attorney will likely periodically contact you with questions regarding the accident, your injuries, status updates and other pertinent information. Both sides may also request depositions during discovery. You, as an injured party, or a plaintiff, will be given a deposition. This is a time when you can answer questions from the defense attorney. A physical examination is another part of discovery in a personal injuries case. This allows the defense to have you examined by a medical expert. Your attorneys will frequently have multiple hearings with the other side, as well as the judge, to give updates and reports on how the case is progressing.
Your attorneys can hire different experts at any point in the case. Your case may require experts to prove various aspects. The attorneys will employ the appropriate experts. Each case is unique. Their experts may need to meet with you. Experts may also be involved in a part of your case, even if you are not required to.
Mediation is where the parties meet with a neutral mediator who will help them reach a settlement. Mediation is not adversarial. Typically, each party stays in their own room or space and never talks to or sees other parties. It is essential to work with an independent party who can help you settle your case.
Both sides have the right to present evidence and witnesses to support their case to a jury during a trial. The jury or a judge will reach a decision at the end. The matter can be settled at any time. This ends the trial. The majority of personal injury cases settle before going to trial.
It is important to trust your attorney and be patient with them. It is important to find a reliable and dedicated attorney who will handle your case efficiently and effectively.