Almost every injured person I’ve spoken to asks me this question. It is true that all clients and cases are different. But, often times, cases fit into general patterns. Below is a brief overview of what your personal injury claim might look like.
Treatment & Investigation. If you’ve been hurt, the goal is to restore as much of your bodily function as medically possible. This can be accomplished with treatment or therapy. Most of the time your injuries will determine how long this stage lasts. Minor injuries can be treated over a few months. However, moderate to severe injuries can take many months and even years as patients cycle through treatment options, including surgeries.
While you are treating, your attorney should be investigating. It is critical that attorneys act fast to preserve evidence that can be used to prove your case to the opposing side. A proper investigation starts with a thorough interview with you. But it should expand to include finding witnesses, visiting the scene and taking and/or locating photographs, video and other physical evidence. Your attorney should explore the value in retaining any expert witnesses. Expert witnesses can be necessary to prove that another person is responsible for your injuries or to disprove their defenses.
Settlement Negotiations. It’s always a good idea to explore the possibility of settling your personal injury claim without a lawsuit whenever possible. If a lawsuit has been filed, similar reasons apply towards working to settling it without a trial. That doesn’t mean you roll over and beg. It means you need to have a hard conversation, without of any emotion, about whether the time, expense and stress of a lawsuit is worth what you might potentially gain.
Sometimes the answer is obvious because the insurance companies and their defendants try to bully unfamiliar consumers into unfair settlements. But many times, the other side is worried about their case. When that happens they will try to fairly settle the case to avoid an even greater expense after losing a trial or investing more time. These settlements are usually found within a particular range based on several factors. Your attorney’s job is to use the information from their investigation to push your settlement amount to the highest point in that range, if not higher.
When settlement negotiations occur is a matter to be determined on a case-by-case basis. Some attorneys informally discuss settlement throughout the case, trying to get a feel for the other side. Many attorneys opt to use a demand letter. A demand letter is a formal statement of the case that usually asks—or demands—a specific amount of money within a designated timeframe. Whatever form it takes, settlement negotiations are an important part of every case.
Lawsuit. If negotiations fail, you will need to file a lawsuit to recover for your injuries. Lawyers are trained in the law and rules of evidence to present what happened to the person responsible and their attorneys, the judge and the jury. A lawsuit is something that you will want to personally discuss with your lawyer.
Clint & Company is fully equipped to guide you through the process.