If you have been injured in an accident, the first and most important step is taking care of your health, so the first step is to get the medical care you need for your injuries. It’s important to keep in mind that each personal injury case is unique and each state has its own rules and regulations that will impact how a case proceeds. However, there are several common elements that are shared among personal injury cases. Personal injury cases can be confusing and overwhelming, but the attorneys at Wapner Newman are here for you. Here are the essential steps to take during your personal injury case.
Hire an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
As soon as you have been injured in an accident that was the result of someone else’s negligence, the insurance companies will attempt to contact you and offer a settlement. To ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries, it is critical that not talk with the insurance companies, but instead, you consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to handle all negotiations. A personal injury attorney will review your case and help determine if there is negligence on the part of the other parties involved, the severity of your case and an estimated cost of your injuries that are based on your medical reports and most importantly, your legal options in regards to seeking compensation for your injuries.
Gathering all of the information necessary to show that your injuries were the result of negligence requires a lot of legwork. The process of gathering information can be extremely overwhelming, but your personal injury attorney will handle this step for you, including getting the police reports, witness testimonies, video surveillance, photographs, and your medical records. Throughout the investigation, your attorney may also connect with other professionals that may be beneficial for your case, such as medical professionals. These professionals may be detrimental to helping to determine the liability of the other party’s role in the accident. Another crucial aspect of the investigation is examining your employment history, as well as the earning potential you may lose if you are unable to work for a while.
The Demand Package
Once your attorney has gathered all of the information pertaining to the accident, the attorney will then send a demand package to the insurance provider for the other party. This demand package will include all of your estimated expenses, including your injuries, medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, future medical care, and loss of life’s enjoyment. Once the other party receives this demand package they will have an opportunity to offer a settlement before your case goes to court. If they reject the demand package or they make an offer that doesn’t meet your expectations, your attorney will take the next step, which is to file a personal injury lawsuit.
The first and one of the most important documents your attorneys at Wapner Newman will file is known as the “complaint”, which is essentially what begins the lawsuit. The complaint generally includes the names of the parties involved, the legal basis for the court’s jurisdiction over the lawsuit, the facts as they relate to the legal claim, and the legal claim. There is a section at the end of the complaint that explains what you (the plaintiff) would like the court to do, such as enter a judgment against the defendant. This document is what makes the defendant aware that they are being sued, also known as the summons. Both documents, the complaint, and the summons must be filed with the court and both documents must be delivered to the defendant.
Before the trial for your lawsuit begins, each party may use a motion to ask the court to rule. If the court’s ruling on a motion may result in the lawsuit being terminated, it is known as a dispositive motion and if the ruling is based instead on an incidental question it is known as a non-dispositive motion. The most common motions in a personal injury case generally include a motion for summary judgment, a motion for default judgment, a motion for change of venue, or a motion to compel.
Any type of trial can be time-consuming, extremely expensive, and emotionally devastating. For this reason, an experienced personal injury attorney will attempt to resolve your case before it goes to trial. There are three primary ways to attempt resolving the case before it goes to trial, including:
- Reaching a settlement agreement-Once the discovery is complete, the attorneys will typically discuss a settlement. The settlement discussions may include a written offer as well as counteroffers or they may simply consist of the attorneys discussing a settlement by way of telephone.
- Mediation-If the case cannot be resolved through the attorneys talking to each other, they may bring in a neutral third party, known as a mediator, to assist the party’s settlement. The mediator does not have the authority to force either party into an agreement for the settlement. The role of the mediator is to meet privately with each party to discuss the aspects of the case, including the strengths and weaknesses of each party.
- Arbitration-This is an adversarial proceeding for the parties to choose a neutral third party, known as the arbitrator in order to resolve their dispute. Arbitration is similar to a “mini-trial”, which means both parties present their evidence and argue their case to the arbitrator who will decide which party wins. If the parties agree to a settlement through binding arbitration, the ruling generally cannot be appealed in court.
If a settlement cannot be reached, the case may go to a civil trial where a judge and/or jury will examine the evidence and decide whether the defendant is legally responsible for your injuries. A civil trial consists of several steps, including choosing a jury, attorneys from both sides presenting opening statements, cross-examination and witness testimony, the closing arguments, jury deliberation, and the verdict. Once the verdict is read, if it is in your favor, the compensation will be awarded. Collecting the compensation may require a variety of steps, including garnishment or placing a lien on the debtor’s real property. The entire process from start to finish may take a while, but as long as you have an experienced personal injury attorney, they will handle all steps required for your case.