Your Personal Injury Case: What to Expect
You were hurt in an accident and are now suffering from both the pain of your injuries and the onslaught of medical bills and lost wages. You know you need financial help. But the thought of pursuing an injury claim is daunting. You aren’t sure where to start, what the process will look like, or how you will afford to pay your attorney fees.
Let’s clear up your last concern first. If you choose to employ an attorney to help you with your injury claim, you will not have to pay any fees unless and until you obtain a financial recovery, whether in the form of a settlement or a trial award. The fees will actually come out of your award, so no money will ever need to leave your hands.
Now let’s move on to settling your second concern of not knowing what the process will look like.
The 5 Stages of a Personal Injury Case
- Fact building and investigations. The first part of any injury claim is fact-finding. Your lawyer will work to investigate the accident and how it has affected your life. If your lawyer finds enough information that shows it is worthwhile to pursue a claim, she or he will move on to the next step.
- Settlement negotiations. Your lawyer will take all medical and financial information and will then work with the insurance company to negotiate a reasonable settlement. While several cases will settle at this point, most will not, as insurance companies do not often want to agree to pay out on full and fair awards.
- Case filing. If the insurance company drags its feet on settling, your lawyer will likely file an official personal injury claim with the court.
- Trial preparations and ongoing negotiations. Once your lawyer files your case, both your lawyer and the insurance company’s lawyers will work to prepare the case for trial. This includes working on depositions, gathering statements, compiling evidence and preparing motions. Settlement discussions will continue during this time, with most cases settling before trial date.
- Should your case not settle prior to your trial date, you will have your day in court to present your case to the judge. Your lawyer will prepare you for what the trial will look like, from opening arguments through to verdict.
Special Considerations Regarding Injury Claims
There is no general rule of thumb when it comes to how long it will take to resolve your claim. Instead, the length of time your case will take depends on your unique circumstances. These circumstances involve the nature and extent of your injuries, how your injuries have affected your ability to work and more.
No insurance company is looking out for your interests. We’ve spoken about this at length in multiple venues, including here on our website and in our blog. Long story short, the insurance company needs to protect its profits for its shareholders. It will not work to help you, but will instead make every effort to cut your treatment short or limit the amount of money it will provide to you.
You should continue medical treatment for as long as necessary. You need to keep seeing your doctors and physical therapists until they tell you to stop. Complete your at-home care and follow all other doctor’s orders. As long as you do what your care providers tell you, you preempt the potential arguments an insurer or opposing counsel may make to undermine your claim.
It’s Time to Get Started
You now know what a general injury claim looks like from start to finish. And you have a general understanding of how you’ll pay your personal injury attorney. So now it’s time to choose an attorney. Do your homework. Find someone in your area who is knowledgeable. And, perhaps most importantly, find someone you feel you have a connection with. Interview a few lawyers before making your final choice.