What happens in the typical personal injury case? What events take place? How long does each step of the process take?
If you have questions similar to these, you have come to the right place. Below is a timeline of a standard personal injury claim and lawsuit.
An accident must take place to spark a personal injury claim and lawsuit. A range of accidents can result in a personal injury case – highway/road traffic accidents, work-related accidents, industrial disease, slip-and-fall accidents, and fatal accidents.
Seek Medical Help
If you are injured in an accident, the first thing you should do is seek medical assistance. You should immediately go to the hospital or see a doctor. Seeking medical help right away will prevent doubt later on that you actually suffered an injury in the first place.
Get a Lawyer
It is up to the injured person to decide whether to hire a law firm/attorney to represent them. If you have suffered an accident and you think that you may have a claim, you should research personal injury lawyers in your area. Contact us to discuss if you have a potential claim.
Once you pick an attorney to handle your case, he or she will begin an investigation. First off, your attorney will interview your child about how the accident occurred and their medical condition as a result of it. Your child should be completely honest with the attorney during this interview.
The investigation stage also includes your attorney obtaining and studying the police report from your accident, collecting your medical records and bills, interviewing potential witnesses for statements, and obtaining evidence. The attorney will carefully evaluate your medical records pertaining to the accident to decide whether or not you have a claim. This process can take several months if documents are hard to track down or obtain.
At times, personal injury claims can be settled before they go to trial. If injuries are minor or medical bills were low, it may be best to settle. Your attorney will use his or her discretion in deciding whether or not to negotiate and settle. A lawyer should not begin any negotiation until the injured party has reached his or her “maximum medical improvement” (MMI). Until this happens, a lawyer cannot be certain of the damages the client might be entitled to. It might take a long time for the injured party to reach his or her MMI, but it is certainly worth the wait.
File Personal Injury Lawsuit
Your attorney will prepare and file a document, called the complaint, which states your claims against the defendant and what damages your family is seeking. Once the complaint is submitted, your personal injury lawsuit has technically been “filed.” It is important to keep in mind that every state has what is called a “statute of limitations.” This means that, as an injured party, you have a set amount of time during which you can file a personal injury lawsuit. In Connecticut, you have two years to file. The clock usually begins ticking on the day that the injury occurs.
During the discovery process, your lawyer will research the legal claims and defenses that are relevant to your case. Your lawyer will send interrogatories – questions – and document requests to defense counsel. He or she will also conduct witness depositions – sworn, out-of-court testimony. Discovery can last anywhere from a few weeks to a year, depending on how complicated the case is.
Before proceeding to trial, attorneys in a personal injury case will typically discuss possibly settling the case. If they cannot do so amongst themselves, they may attempt mediation. Mediation occurs when the lawyers and clients in a case go before a mediator to try settling the case.
If your personal injury claim proceeds to trial, there are several events that will take place: voir dire, jury selection, opening statements, witness testimony, presentation of evidence, closing arguments, jury deliberation and delivery of the verdict. The length of a personal injury trial depends on numerous factors, including: complexity of the medical testimony, the number of witnesses, the amount of evidence, etc. After the trial, parties will have the chance to appeal the verdict if they choose to.
If you recover monetary damages from your case, you will usually receive them within 30 days of the jury’s verdict.