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December 19, 2014

From Consultation to Resolution: What a Personal Injury Victim Can Expect When Filing a Lawsuit

Personal injury law dictates that an individual who suffers injuries as a result of another person or entity’s negligence or carelessness is entitled to establish a claim—a lawsuit—for damages against the latter. That may seem easy for anyone who may want to recover compensation for the damages they incurred, but it actually involves a certain process, which starts with the injured victim consulting a lawyer and ends with the case being resolved.

As such, here is what a personal injury victim can expect when he or she decides to file a lawsuit, from start to finish:

  • ·         Contacting a personal injury attorney. This is the most important action that the victim must take in order to determine if he or she has a valid claim for damages against the other party involved in the personal injury accident. Most lawyers provide free case consultations, so it is a good thing to speak with one while or after obtaining medical treatment. During this time, the victim must be able to provide the attorney with any documents—medical records, witness statements, police reports, etc.—so that the lawyer can evaluate the claim.
  • ·         Evaluating the personal injury attorney. The victim must be able to take into account the importance of having the right lawyer for his or her case. Experience, track record, and the way the attorney approaches the claim should be considered.
  • ·         Obtaining legal counsel. This occurs once the victim has chosen who he or she thinks is the best lawyer for his or her case. Most lawyers for personal injury cases work on a contingency basis, also known as the “No Win, No Fee” arrangement, wherein they are paid fees only if they successfully won their clients’ cases on their behalf.
  • ·         Investigating everything about the personal injury claim. In this part of the process, the lawyer will look at every possible aspect of the case, from the victim’s injuries to the resulting damages he or she suffered. Negotiations with the other party’s insurance company usually take place here.
  • ·         Settling the case before going to the trial phase. Usually, a personal injury case is settled before a lawsuit can be filed. The negotiations between the victim’s lawyer and the other party’s insurance company often involve arriving towards a favorable settlement offer. It is at this point when the victim, at the advice of his or her personal injury lawyer, decides to whether or not reject the offer.
  • ·         Filing the lawsuit. If no settlement was reached (i.e. the victim denied the settlement offer from the other party), the victim’s attorney would file the lawsuit. It usually starts with the pre-trial phase, wherein all the particular information for the case is constructed. Along the way, mediation may be brought up, wherein the two parties proceed to negotiate a settlement before a mediator. The pre-trial phase ends if both the victim and the other party reached a settlement during mediation. If not, the trial commences.
  • ·         Trial phase. In this part of the legal process, the claim is presented before a judge or jury, with the other party setting up a defense against the victim’s allegations. After both sides have presented their arguments, the judge or jury would determine if the other party was indeed responsible for the accident and the resulting injuries and damages to the victim. If it is, then the judge or jury would determine the amount of damages that the victim may receive. The offending party may also file an appeal if the verdict is deemed unacceptable.

Indeed, filing a lawsuit is a complicated process that could either be settled out of court or be decided by a judge or jury. It is imperative for the victim, again, to obtain a personal injury advocate who has the expertise and the experience when it comes to the claims process.