Personal Injury Case Procedures
If you’ve suffered from a personal injury and you’re considering your options, it can be helpful to know what a personal injury case might look like at each stage. While every personal injury case is unique, there are common stages that most go through. Being aware of what happens during each stage can help you be prepared and alleviate some stress of the unknown.
The Law Offices of Michael B. Brehne, P.A. has years of experience handling personal injury cases and we’re here to share our knowledge with you. No matter what type of personal injury case you have, we more than likely have experience with it and are here to help answer your questions in your time of need.
Consulting with a law firm is typically free. The initial consultation serves as a meeting in which you and the attorney assess the legality of your case and determine what, if any, compensation you may be eligible to receive. Be prepared to discuss the details of your accident and the resulting injuries. Bring any relevant paperwork from your insurance company, doctor, and police reports if available. Also, be prepared to ask questions of your own regarding the attorney’s fees, experience, and anything else that’s important for you to feel comfortable working with this lawyer.
Once you commit to a personal injury lawyer, they will begin investigating your case to gather all of the evidence required to fight on your behalf. This may include police reports, accident scene photos, vehicle data, statements from accident witnesses, video surveillance if available, medical records, and more. It’s important that you are honest with your attorney about every aspect of your injury so that they can properly do their job.
Your Lawyer May File A Demand
Depending on the size and extent of your case, your lawyer may feel that the case can be settled outside of court. In this instance, your lawyer will submit a demand to the attorney or insurance company of whom you’re suing. This typically happens after you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), which is when your medical treatment has ended and you’ve recovered the most that you can. Your MMI helps determine the amount of compensation you might be entitled to. If the other side does not meet this demand, the case will move into the litigation phase.
File Court Documents
This is when the case becomes official and needs to be pursued within a strict timeframe. Your lawyer will file all of the technical documents to the court that outlines the defendant (who you’re suing), the plaintiff (you), and a complaint that covers the nature of your accident and injuries, and the legal basis for holding the defendant liable as well as the compensation that you are seeking to cover damages. The defendant will then file a response to the complaint. States’ pretrial procedures may differ, but once this phase commences, you can expect to wait for one to two years before your case gets to trial.
This phase allows either side to investigate the other’s legal claim and defenses. Each side will submit questions to the other party, request documents, depose witnesses, and more. At this stage, the Law Offices of Michael B. Brehne, P.A. will do extensive investigation to make sure that all bases are covered. This part typically takes anywhere from 6 months to a year.
Mediation & Negotiation
Depending on the case, mediation may happen between the lawyers or with a neutral mediator, usually a judge. This is an informal proceeding where both parties will try to reach a settlement without going to court. Mediation and negotiation is an important step that, when successfully done, can keep your case from being drawn out. However, not all cases can be mediated, so you should still expect to go to trial unless your personal injury lawyers suggest otherwise.
If the case could not be settled through mediation, the case will go to court where each side’s evidence will be presented, usually in front of a jury. Each element of the case will be evaluated to determine liability and compensation sums. Trials can last as short as a day or go on for several weeks. If your trial is delayed, don’t assume the worst. This often happens and is not indicative of anything unfavorable. Hopefully, a decision was made in your favor, but depending on the outcome of the trial, either side can appeal the decision. The appeals process differs from the trial and your attorney will be able to best guide you as to how to proceed next.