Your Personal Injury Claim Timeline, Explained
If you’ve been hurt in an accident and another party could be held responsible, it’s only natural to be worried about your next steps. While this time may be emotionally and physically overwhelming, you don’t have to go through it alone. By working with an experienced personal injury law firm, those who have sustained a serious or even catastrophic personal injury will have their legal rights protected and may have the opportunity to receive the compensation they deserve. We understand you’ll probably have a lot of questions about this process, which is why we’ve put together a timeline that outlines the stages of filing a personal injury claim.
Personal Injury Claim Timeline
Get medical attention
Immediately following your accident, you should first pursue medical treatment. Even if you don’t think you’ve sustained a catastrophic personal injury, you should still see your doctor or head to the hospital. This documentation will come in handy should you decide to pursue a claim.
Hire a lawyer
If your injury warrants legal action, you’ll want to consult with the best personal injury attorneys in your area. Do not put this off, as the sooner you decide on a lawyer, the better off your case will be. Meet with a few different lawyers to get a feel for who might represent you best.
Investigate and interview
Next, your lawyer will interview you about the accident and your medical condition, treatment, and health background. During this phase, be completely honest with your lawyer about everything, even if you think it might reflect badly on you or your case. The worst thing you can do is surprise your lawyer. If they know everything there is to know, they’ll be in a better position to fight on your behalf. After the interview, your lawyer will obtain your medical records and bills stemming from the injury. Note that this investigative phase can take a few months. Once your lawyer has received these records, they will review them and assess whether there might be a case to pursue.
Settle or proceed to trial
Now that your lawyer has all the information they need, they’ll need to decide whether they feel settlement might be more appropriate than filing a claim and going to court. The truth is that 95-96% of personal injury cases are settled pretrial. Pursuing a settlement can be less stressful than a trial, but settling prior to filing a suit might not be appropriate in cases of permanent injury or impairment. If your lawyer believes your case might be settled out of court, they will make demands to the other party’s attorney or insurance company. Your lawyer should not start making demands or file a lawsuit until you have reached a point of what’s called MMI, or maximum medical improvement. This can take months or even years, depending on the extent of your injuries. However, if you cannot afford to wait until you reach MMI, your lawyer can file your claim as soon as they are able. In many circumstances, it can take one or two years for a personal injury case to even get to the trial stage.
Discover and/or negotiate
If you and your lawyer decide to take your catastrophic personal injury case to trial, there will be a period of time wherein each legal team investigates the other’s legal claims and defenses. They’ll send questions and document requests to each other and take depositions from witnesses. This phase can last anywhere from six months to a year. When this period is drawing to a close, both lawyers may discuss the possibility of a settlement. These discussions may stay between these two parties or may extend to a third party known as a mediator. If both parties decide to mediate, lawyers and clients will try to settle the case before a trial.
Go to court
When mediation doesn’t work, you’ll proceed to court. Your catastrophic personal injury trial could last anywhere from a day to a few weeks. Court dates may be rescheduled due to judge availability or other factors. Be sure to ask your lawyer any questions you have about going to court.
At Mayor Law, we understand how daunting the personal injury process can be. That’s why we’re here to help you through it. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please contact us today.