After suffering injuries from an accident, it is not uncommon for personal injury victims to have questions. This is because most people don’t understand how injury cases work until they have to file a claim. This may lead to some misinformation about injury cases.
It is important to gather the right information about your case. However, it is best to consult a qualified personal injury lawyer such as the lawyers at Montoya Hinckley for assistance.
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Investigation of Personal Injury Claim
Immediately after an accident, call a personal injury attorney and be evaluated by a medical professional. After you sign a retainer agreement, your attorney will begin investigating the case, tell you how to preserve any evidence, and explain how you can best maximize the value of your claim.
Your attorney will notify your insurance company and the defendant (s) you are under their representation
Attempt to Settle Without Filing Suit
Insurance companies are usually unreasonable at this stage of the negotiations.
Personal Injury Lawsuit Filed
Once a lawsuit is filed on your behalf, your attorney will serve the appropriate documents on all the defendants. This includes the “Complaint,” – the document that officially begins the lawsuit. The defendant (s) then file their response to the lawsuit, with a document called an “Answer.” The defendant (s) may also file a “Motion to Dismiss,” which can cause the court to drop your case entirely should you not establish that you have stated a valid claim or if you have other procedural problems, such as filing in the wrong location.
Discovery During a Personal Injury Lawsuit
During discovery, both parties may ask questions, written and oral, of the other parties and other witnesses, but must observe very specific procedural rules that govern what questions can be asked, of whom, regarding what topics, and when.
Generally, both parties submit written questions (interrogatories) and/or “requests for production of documents” or “requests for admissions”, Attorneys aid their client in answering these questions, or objecting when those questions are not.
Depositions: Oral Questions Under Oath
Depositions are not held in court. Rather, they are transcribed by a court reporter, which can have the same impact as trial. Depositions are often critical to settlement discussions because, during them, for example, the plaintiff either may convince the defense counsel that he or she will get a big payoff from a jury trial. A defense counsel may also realize that his or her own witness will not present well before a jury.
Why Are Depositions Important and When Do They Happen?
Attorneys often must research how the specific facts of the case could affect the eventual outcome so that they can ask the necessary questions of all witnesses, as well as properly prepare their clients for their own deposition.
As a general rule of thumb, depositions happen within 6 months of filing the lawsuit (this time frame can vary).
Expert Witnesses in Personal Injury Cases
If either damages or liability is contested, expert witnesses are usually hired. Experts might involve proving medical conditions or proving fault (such as an accident reconstruction expert in a car accident case).
Preparing experts for these depositions, as well as preparing to depose the other side’s expert witnesses, are also very complex and involve extensive preparation. All the while, the lawyers may argue over the scope of an expert’s opinion, whether
Settlements & Mediation
Throughout this process, settlement discussions may take place. Sometimes the parties will attend mediation, which is a less formal settlement conference, typically conducted by a skilled third-party mediator, hoping the case can be resolved. Insurance companies may offer more money if they lose various important motions, such as motions to compel discovery, motions to preclude the admission of evidence, motions for summary judgment,
Thoroughly preparing to go to trial is the best way to either force settlement or, if settlement is not possible, have the best chance of convincing a jury that you deserve the most money.
Going To Trial
Most cases settle. However, if your case does not settle, you can expect your trial to take anywhere from (roughly) four days to three weeks, depending on complexity and amount of controversy. Your attorney will prepare extensively for trial and stand ready to advocate strongly on your behalf during any trial.
If the case is tried before a jury, it may deliberate anywhere between a few hours and several days. Parties can also file a long list of important motions (and sometimes even appeals to other courts) before, during, and after trial, which can all have either a positive or negative effect on the ultimate outcome in your case.
The total time for a court trial in general ranges anywhere between two or three months (if settled before trial) to two or more years in more complicated cases.
Every case is unique, and each one is different. A skilled injury lawyer can provide more detailed answers to your questions depending on the facts of your case.
A lawyer will help you navigate each stage of the case so that you can get the results you want. Your lawyer will spend time getting to know you and your priorities. The lawyer will then help you navigate the process and get you the best possible compensation.
The average settlement for a personal injury case is between $3,000 and $75,000.