The majority of car accidents reach settlements in small negotiations with the insurance company and a lawyer. However, sometimes an accident case requires the plaintiff to go to court. This can be particularly stressful because a personal injury lawsuit can take months or even years to settle.
In this guide, we will detail what should happen generally if you choose to file a personal injury lawsuit. The guide serves as a rough timeline of events. Each one of these steps varies greatly depending on the case.
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Initial steps after a car accident
The first thing you should do after an accident is to check yourself and any passengers for injuries.
If you are able to safely move, move to the side of the road and call the police. Even if it’s a minor fender bender, you want the police to write an official accident report that you’ll be able to get documentation for later.
Following that you should go to the hospital. Not all injuries from a car accident are apparent directly after the crash. You’ll want your medical records to show what emergency treatment if any, you received directly after the accident.
This is important because it’s possible a juror may dismiss your injuries if you did not seek medical treatment immediately after the car accident.
Hiring an attorney
After deciding you want to file a car accident lawsuit, you’ll need to figure out which law firm you want to employ.
It’s important that you find a law firm to back you up. Some people attempt to fight a car accident injury case without any assistance. Even though you won’t have to cut the lawyer in on your settlement, you’ll probably walk away with less than you would if you hired an attorney.
After you have found an attorney you feel will represent you best, they will help you file a lawsuit.
During this phase, you get all of the medical treatment you need for your injury. Make sure medical records report every surgery, injection, and medication you were placed on as a result of your car accident.
If you cannot afford a doctor’s visit, you can talk to your attorney about alternative methods of paying for your treatment. It’s important that you receive treatment for your injures. This increases the value of your case and qualifies you for a higher settlement.
Bill and treatment record collection and review
This is the investigation process. The attorney will collect police reports, accident reports, and all of your medical records. The attorney will go over this information to see how much you should receive in compensation from the insurance company.
If you choose to reject the offer that the insurance company makes, then your case will proceed to trial
Expert medical reports
Your attorney will request an expert medical report. An expert will review your case and calculate the full extent of the injury you received from the auto accident.
This is to serve as definitive proof of the severity of your injury during your personal injury case.
Demand phase and negotiation
If your attorney believes that you do not need to go to court to settle this case, they will make a demand to the defendant’s attorney.
A good lawyer will not make a demand until the plaintiff has reached a point of maximum medical improvement
Most attorneys will not make a demand after the plaintiff has reached the maximum medical improvement. Maximum medical improvement is when the victim has reached the maximum medical recovery they can and all treatment has ended. This way, the attorney is fully aware of how much the case is worth.
If the attorneys cannot reach a compromise, the attorney will move to file a lawsuit with the court.
When negotiations are unsuccessful, the case will be moved to court. It generally takes one to two years for personal injury cases to more to trial. The attorney will begin to go through pretrial produces. This differs from state to state.
You have to make sure your case has gone to trial before the statute of limitations has expired. Each state has a different statute of limitations for car accident personal injury claims.
Discovery is when the two attorneys begin investigating each other’s legal claims and defense. The discovery process includes sending questions and documentation to each other and taking depositions of important witnesses.
Discovery can take up to a year. It depends on how complex the case is, and what the court deadlines are.
Negotiation / Mediation
Once discovery has ended, your attorney will begin to talk about settlement. If possible, the two lawyers will reach a settlement among themselves, but if not they will seek mediation.
Mediation is when a third neutral part is present with the attorneys and clients as they try to resolve the issue and reach a settlement for the injury claim.
If the mediation is unsuccessful then the auto accident case is scheduled for a trial date. A personal injury lawsuit trial can settle in as quickly as a day or as long as a year.
It’s important to note that just because a trial is scheduled for a day does not mean that it will happen on that date. Trials are often moved to accommodate the judge’s schedule. Having your trial date shifted is not an immediate indicator that your auto accident case in bad standing.
Provident Lawsuit Loans
The entire personal injury lawsuit process is extensive. It can take years for you to file a lawsuit and settle your case. Provident understands that during this time your bills do not stop. We can provide you with the funding you need until you reach your settlement. If you or a loved one is waiting on a settlement from a car accident, call Provident today at (800) 908-6860 or apply online now for a lawsuit loan!