In some cases, people are left with the unfortunate news that they are unable to get fair settlement for their personal injury case. In that case, they may need to follow through with a lawsuit. It is important not to be discouraged because your case could take some time to resolve. Civil litigation typically takes a long time and it could even take several years from the date of your injury until the day that you get your settlement money. Aside from that, the litigation process can also be very confusing. As a plaintiff, you have many rights! You have a right to understand what is happening in your case, why your hearing was postponed, why the defense attorney needs documents, and what your lawyer and defense attorney are talking about.
You may be wondering what to expect from a typical case. Here is a good timeline to show you the way:
Getting Medical Treatment and Choosing a Lawyer: Receiving medical treatment is very important after an accident. This is the right thing to do for your health but also a way for the insurance adjuster and jury to rightly assume that you were actually injured. After this, you need to choose an attorney who will work with your needs soon after the injury takes place. You will almost always absolutely need a lawyer for any personal injury claim where you suffered significant injury or other losses. There is a general rule: You should choose a lawyer if you are out of work for more than a couple of days, break a bone, or if your medical bills totaled more than a couple thousand dollars.
Investigation of Claim and Medical Record Review: Your lawyer will typically interview you about how the accident happened, your background, and your medical condition and treatment. They do this to find out everything that you know about the accident and treatment. They will then go through with collecting your medical records and bills relating to the injury. They may also get your medical records for any treatment that you have ever had relating to the condition in the case, which is a process that can take months at times. They will then review them to see if there is actually a case.
Demand and Negotiation Consideration: Sometimes a demand will be made to the other attorney or other side’s insurance company. Otherwise, your lawyer will go ahead and file the lawsuit. A good lawyer will not make a demand until the plaintiff has reached a point of maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI is when the plaintiff has ended his or her medical treatment and is as recovered as he or she is going to get.
Filing the Lawsuit: The lawsuit is filed, which can actually take up to one to two years for it to get to trail.
Discovery Process: Questions are asked and documents requested to each party. Depositions of all relevant witnesses in the case are taken, which can take from six months to a year.
Mediation and Negotiation: The discovery period ends, and the lawyers will begin talking about settlement. They will sometimes go to mediation for this. Mediation is the process in which both clients and both lawyers go in front of a mediator to try and settle the case.
Trial: If mediation does not work, the case gets scheduled for trial. A personal injury trial can last anywhere from a day, a week, or even longer. Just because a lawsuit is scheduled for a trial, this does not mean that the trial will actually occur on that date. They will often get rescheduled because of the judge’s schedules. If your trial gets cancelled, you shouldn’t assume that the lawyers are conspiring against you or that something unfavorable has happened. There is no need to get discouraged.
Speak to an attorney to WTW to see what we can do for you in your personal injury case! We will help you better understand the timeline of events and what you should expect.