When dealing with a personal injury case, it's common for folks to wonder what the rough timeline is going to look like. Here are four things a personal injury lawyer will tell you to expect along the way.
Immediate Aftermath of the Injury
This is the phase within hours or days after an incident where you should get medical attention. Once your condition is stable and you're capable of handling more complex issues, you should try to put down copious notes of what happened. Try to write down what your best memory of the incident was, but don't fill in gaps if you can't recall. Likewise, get names from doctors, first responders, police officers, and witnesses, if possible.
A personal injury attorney will tell you that the one must-do thing in this phase is to get treatment. Don't refuse or delay care because this might be used by a defendant to torpedo the case. Even if you're not sure you want to file a claim, get medical care and let the doctors record what happened.
Investigation and Recovery
Over the next couple of weeks or months, you can ask a personal injury lawyer to look into what happened. Conduct all necessary visits with doctors and therapists to learn the extent of your injuries, too. This may include setting up surgeries to address problems or check what might be wrong.
Note that your attorney will not want to move forward with the case until you've reached maximum recovery or the statute of limitations starts to loom. In extreme cases, this may push the timeline back by a couple of years.
Filing a Claim
After a personal injury attorney has gathered as much information as possible about what happened to a client, they'll send an official demand package to the defendant. This states what injuries you suffered, why you think the defendant is liable, and how much compensation you believe they owe. Filing the claim satisfies the requirements of the statute of limitations, too.
Claims Adjustment and Negotiation
Typically, defendants will have insurance coverage. The insurance company will appoint a claims adjuster, a professional who'll determine within a few weeks whether the claim is valid. If the claim seems fine, they'll provide a settlement offer in writing. You and your lawyer may decide to negotiate if the settlement is insufficient, and this process can take months.
If the claim is rejected or negotiations fail, you have the option to sue. Expect a lawsuit to take between several months and a couple of years. Reach out to a personal injury attorney to learn more.
After being involved in a serious auto accident with a drunk driver, I struggled heavily with getting the driver's insurance company to open a claim. When the insurance company started pushing back, I knew I needed to do something. I spent a lot of time digging through the laws surrounding auto accident claims so that I knew what my legal rights were. I even talked with an auto accident attorney. I created this site to teach others about what I learned, including my court experience. I hope it helps you to determine how you should proceed with your auto accident case.