All personal injury cases are different, and there is no one clear-cut way to handle them. As a survivor of an accident, you should have an idea of what the process of making a personal injury claim is like to prepare yourself both physically and emotionally. You can expect the overall process to look like this:
Consultation with a Personal Injury Attorney
The first step you will require to take is to find and hire a qualified and reputable attorney. They will help you iron out the following:
- Whether the other person was negligent
- The extent and severity of your injuries so that you can pursue the right amount that covers medical expenses and loss of income
- Whether you are eligible for a personal injury claim
- Your legal options based on the evidence collected
Investigation of Your Case
Your attorney will proceed to investigate your injury claim. They will speak to the police and obtain police reports, photographs, eye-witness testimonies, and other details about your employment history and earning potential. They will also liaise with experts such as doctors, accident reconstruction experts, and other expert witnesses in other fields depending on the scope of your injuries and circumstances surrounding your accident.
A personal injury lawyer may also examine the possible defenses of the accused side to determine liability. Your lawyer will also secure site data and relevant surveillance to support your case. They will keep you updated and will respond to any queries you may have about the process.
Filling the Claim
You will now file a settlement claim. Here, you will outline your case including liability, medical damages, pain and suffering, loss of earning potential, and other factors as your lawyer advises you.
The letter you forward will be reviewed by the opposing party, which may be the defendant’s driver’s insurer or the driver. In response, they will either accept or reject the demand. Should they reject it, your lawyer will make a counteroffer to negotiate the terms. If the defendant still does not accept your attorney’s offer, you will be entitled to a civil lawsuit.
This step is a bid to solve the case without a trial. Here, your lawyer will file a request with a court requesting a ruling on your case that could end the dispute before trial.
Before you file the lawsuit, opposing parties will obtain additional evidence from each other and evaluate the case from a more comprehensive view. This process includes depositions, document production, and interrogatories.
Here, you will be seeking the input of a judge or jury as the final decision maker and a verdict as the solution. A trial is an opportunity for you as the plaintiff to argue your case and obtain a verdict against the defendant and for the latter to refute the case and present evidence related to the accident.
The judge or jury will examine the facts presented, determine whether the defendant is liable for your injuries and to what extent, and possibly award damage compensation. The verdict can go in any direction. You may get the amount you hoped to get; a greater sum, a reduced amount, or none. The personal injury trial has six main steps:
- Jury selection
- Opening statements
- Witness testimonies and cross-examination
- Closing arguments
- Jury instruction
- Jury deliberation and Verdict
Collection of Money Awarded
If the opposing party is found liable for your injury, the judge or jury will award you damage compensation. If the insurer is financially stable, they will often pay quickly to avoid collection activities and further cost implications.
However, if the opposing party is insolvent, your lawyer can guide you in further activity to obtain your payout, such as showing proof that the defendant refused to pay in a court hearing or refused to take responsibility for your wage loss.
The insurer will typically send a check to your lawyer, who will deduct their fees and send you the balance in a check.
If you lose the case, your attorney may advise you to appeal the verdict. You can appeal if you believe that the verdict was reached erroneously, for instance, by relying on evidence that should have been included. If the court of appeal finds an error in the decision, it will reverse the decision.