UNDERSTANDING THE PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM PROCESS
May 17, 2021
Car accidents are stressful events all around. If you've been injured in a car accident, you might be wondering what you should expect from the personal injury claim process, including the usual timeline. Even with this timeline, roughly 96% of personal injury cases are settled before going to trial, so keep that in mind as you read through the process.
Here's what you can typically expect from the personal injury claim process.
ACCESS MEDICAL TREATMENT
Looking after your injuries is always the first thing you should do after being injured in a car accident. Not only is this the right move for your health, but if you don't go to the emergency room or make an appointment with your doctor soon after the accident, it may send the message to a jury or an insurance adjuster that your injuries aren't that serious.
CONSULT A LAWYER
It's best to consult a personal injury lawyer for anything more than a very minor claim. As a general rule, if you break a bone, are out of work for longer than a couple of days, or if your medical bills are more than a couple of thousand dollars, you should talk to a lawyer about your case.
LAWYER REVIEWS MEDICAL RECORDS
Your lawyer will interview you about everything pertaining to the case, including your injuries and medical treatment. They will also review your medical records. This process can take months.
LAWYER CONSIDERS MAKING DEMANDS/NEGOTIATING
Many personal injury claims are settled before a lawsuit is ever filed. If a lawyer thinks a case can be settled, they will make a demand either to the other attorney or to the other side's insurance company. A good lawyer will never make a demand before the client has reached what's called maximum medical improvement, meaning, when the client is as recovered as possible. Until then, the lawyer does not know how much the case is potentially worth.
THE LAWSUIT IS FILED
Filing a lawsuit starts the countdown to going to trial. This must be done within the statute of limitations, and it can take up to two years for a case to get to trial.
The discovery phase is where lawyers on both sides collect information from documents and key persons and can last six months to a year.
MEDIATION AND NEGOTIATION
This is the period of the case wherein the lawyers talk settlement, sometimes with a mediator involved.
GOING TO TRIAL
If mediation does not work, then the case will be scheduled for trial. Going to trial is often a stressful experience, but it's also usually a short-lived one as trials are generally only held for half a day over a full day.
It's important to remember that the vast majority of personal injury cases are settled well before going to trial, and that trial dates are often moved for innocuous reasons.