If you’ve recently been injured in an accident and are looking to take the party responsible to court, you’re going to need an idea of what’s in store for you. It’s no secret that an injury lawsuit can be a stressful experience—that’s why it’s important to do some research before beginning the process. Below are the steps that you’ll want to be aware of ahead of time. We’ve touched on the stages of a personal injury case previously, but we wanted to expand further in this blog post.
Seek Medical Treatment
If you have yet to go to a doctor, you’ll want to do that immediately. Aside from receiving proper care for your injuries, you’ll also obtain documentation of what happened to you in the accident. This will be incredibly helpful later on when certain parties, such as an insurance agency or the jury, look for proof.
Hire an Attorney
In order to hold the guilty party accountable for the accident, you’ll want to meet with a personal injury attorney. Before meeting with them, put together a profile with any documentation that pertains to your situation—such as the medical records mentioned above. Look for a lawyer who will provide you with a free consultation; if you’re asked to pay a fee, that law firm may not have your best interests in mind.
Don’t be afraid to ask the attorney questions regarding their background, case history, expertise, or any other factors that may concern you. The attorney will most likely do the same, asking questions to gain a better understanding of your case to determine if they can be of service to you. If an attorney makes any promises regarding financial reparations during your initial meeting, it’s best to reconsider enlisting their services. There’s no way to accurately gauge the outcome of a case without spending a great deal of time examining the evidence. You’ll want to find an attorney who’s going to be honest with you from start to finish.
Once you settle on an attorney, the next step is to discuss payment. It’s common for law professionals who work on injury cases to charge on a contingency basis. That means they don’t get paid unless you win. If you win, a percentage of the compensation awarded to you will go to the attorney. Before signing a contract with someone, re-read the terms, ask any unanswered questions, and settle on a plan for reimbursement before signing any documents.
This is one of the most crucial decisions you’ll make throughout this process. A good lawyer can make or break a case, and the last thing you want is someone who’s apathetic. Plan to meet with a few different candidates, and take plenty of time to look over their credentials.
Filing a Lawsuit
Now it’s the lawyer’s turn to investigate your claim and perform all the necessary personal injury lawsuit steps. After collecting all the evidence regarding your case, the lawyer will determine if the issue can be brought to court. At this point, your attorney will make a final determination on if you do or do not have a case. If the case is viable, then your attorney will consult with you about negotiating a deal with the defendant.
The vast majority of personal injury cases are settled before going to trial. Be sure that your lawyer waits until you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) before negotiating any sort of deal. Until you are at the furthest point of recovery, there is no way to know how much the case is worth.
If the case cannot be settled with a deal, then a lawsuit will be filed in court. At this point, it’s in a judge’s hands to set deadlines for each pre-trial phase in the lawsuit process. These are:
- Complaint and Answer – To begin this procedure, a complaint will be filed outlining your allegations against the defendant. The defendant will then have to review the information and accept or deny the allegations against them.
- Discovery – Once the defendant has answered the filed complaint, the attorneys on each side will take time to gather evidence that supports their client. This includes testimonies, documentation, depositions, and any other forms of evidence they find necessary to the case.
- Motions – The defendant may file a motion to dismiss one or more of your claims. Your attorney has the opportunity to respond. This ensures that both sides of the argument are heard and understood.
This process can take anywhere from a few months to several years—it all depends on the state you reside in and the factors of your case. Once the pre-trial phase is complete, a mediation can be requested. This is where both the plaintiff and defendant meet, along with their attorneys and a mediator, to try to negotiate a settlement once more.
Going to Trial
If a solution is still not found during mediation, then the final option is to go to trial. During this time, both sides will present their arguments, and a judge and jury will determine who is liable for the injuries and harm that transpired during the accident. If the defendant is found responsible, then a decision will be made regarding the reparations (the amount the defendant must pay you to amend the situation).
Before you can get paid, your attorney is required to pay any contingents with a legal claim on the reward. Once that money is dispersed, and your lawyer collects their percentage, you will receive a check with the final amount which is solely yours. Know that it often takes time for the monetary compensation to make its way to you. Once you have the money in your hand, the lawsuit is finally over.
It’s normal to feel apprehensive about starting a personal injury lawsuit. Hopefully, this brief overview has lessened some of your concerns and encouraged you to fight for restitution. The most important thing is to make sure you have an expert attorney who will do everything in their power to make sure you have a successful litigation process.
For more than a decade, Travis Mayor has successfully represented personal injury clients in the Portland area. He draws on hundreds of cases’ worth of experience to deliver results in both settlements and court cases. If you’re in need of a personal injury lawyer in Portland, look no further than Mayor Law, LLC. Travis is committed to each client’s fight for the compensation they deserve.