Your family might have questions about the personal injury case process. Most likely, you’ve never been through this process before. Because of this, you might feel stressed about what will happen. You might wonder what happens in the typical personal injury case. Or what events take place? How long does each step of the process take?
Below is a timeline of a standard personal injury claim and lawsuit. This information should help you understand the process. This can reduce your stress associated with the personal injury case. Refer to this information to help simplify this process.
1. Accident Occurs
An accident must take place to spark a personal injury claim and lawsuit. A range of accidents can result in a personal injury case. These include neglect, abuse, medical malpractice, medical error, etc.
2. Seek Medical Help
If your loved one gets injured in an accident, the first thing they should do is seek medical help. Your loved one should immediately go to the hospital or see a doctor. Seeking medical help right away will prevent doubt later on that your loved one got injured.
3. Hire a Lawyer
It is up to the injured person to decide whether to hire a law firm/attorney to represent them. If your loved one suffered an accident and thinks they have a claim, research personal injury lawyers. Once your loved one hires an attorney, the attorney will begin an investigation. Your loved one’s attorney will interview them about how the accident occurred. They’ll talk about your loved one’s medical condition as a result of the accident. Your loved one should be completely honest with the attorney during this interview. The investigation stage also includes the attorney getting the police report. Collecting the medical records and bills, interviewing potential witnesses for statements and obtaining evidence. The attorney will evaluate your loved one’s medical records and decide whether or not to make a claim. This process can take several months if documents are hard to track down or get.
4. Gather Evidence
While your lawyer will help you with this process, you should make this stage easy for your attorney. You can do this by keeping track of medical bills. You can also take photographs of injuries and try to locate witnesses in the case.
5. Settlement Negotiations
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. The attorney will use their discretion in deciding whether or not to negotiate and settle. A lawyer shouldn’t begin any negotiation until the injured party has their “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 their MMI. But so long as this does not interfere with the statute of limitations, it is worth the wait.
6. File Personal Injury Lawsuit
Your loved one’s attorney will prepare and file a document called the complaint. It is important for your loved one to keep in mind that every state has what is called a “statute of limitations.” This means that, as an injured party, your loved one has a set amount of time to file a personal injury lawsuit. In Connecticut, if you want to file a wrongful death claim, you have two years from the date of death to file the claim. If your loved one wants to file the claim for injuries, they have five years from the date that the injury took place.
During the discovery process, the lawyer will research relevant legal claims and defenses. Your loved one’s lawyer will send interrogatories (questions) and document requests to defense counsel. They 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 going to trial, attorneys in a personal injury case will discuss settling. 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 loved one’s personal injury claim proceeds to trial, there are several events that will take place. This includes 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 many factor. This includes 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 your loved one recovers monetary damages from the case, they will usually receive them within 30 days of the jury’s verdict.
Going through a personal injury case can be a very overwhelming experience. The good news is that you don’t have to go through this alone! You can hire an attorney to guide you through the process. Instead of wondering what steps you should take or how you can protect your loved one, you can consult with someone who knows these things. They can help make this experience as stress free as possible while helping your loved one get the help that they need.