The personal injury lawsuit process can seem slow and frustrating to those pursuing a personal injury claim. But, because the personal injury lawsuit process follows a number of well-understood, standard steps, it is easy to understand what the next step to winning your case is. These steps include:
1. Meeting with a personal injury attorney. This first step in the personal injury lawsuit process involves finding and meeting with potential lawyers. When meeting with a personal injury lawyer, it is important to bring any supporting documentation that you can for your claim. This includes medical records, personal journal notes, photographs, and the like. When looking for a personal injury attorney, be sure to choose one that offers free consultations and/or works on a contingency basis. That way you won’t be charged just for inquiring about your case.
2. Evaluating potential personal injury lawyers. During this step of the personal injury lawsuit process, you will want to carefully and thoroughly evaluate potential attorneys. Having the right lawyer on your side can make the difference between winning and losing your lawsuit.
Things to consider when hiring a personal injury attorney include: years of experience, number of trial cases, and amount of experience trying cases like yours. If a lawyer tells you how much money you can expect to win, be wary. A good, experienced trial lawyer knows that it takes time and evidence to truly evaluate the merits of a case.
3. Hiring a lawyer. During this step of the personal injury lawsuit process, you will actually choose a lawyer and sign a binding contract. Before you choose an injury lawyer, be sure to find one who works on a contingency basis. This means that your lawyer won’t get paid unless you do.
Attorneys who work on a contingency basis generally earn between 25% to 40% of the total amount awarded in case, and it is paid at the very end. It is also important to ask any questions that you may have about fees before you sign a client contract.
4. Investigating your case. During this step of the personal injury lawsuit process, your attorney will thoroughly research the facts of your case to understand how and why you were injured, how bad your injuries are, what your total costs are, and what damages you may be eligible for. Your personal injury lawyer will also contact and (when necessary) negotiate with the insurance company for you.
5. Setting your case. A common part of the personal injury lawsuit process for many people, settling out of court involves accepting a monetary offer before a case is resolved in court. Out of court settlements are common with car accidents, and, in general, your attorney will advise you of the monetary offer he or she is presented with and it is then up to you to decide whether or not you want to accept it.
6. Filing in court. The longest part of the personal injury lawsuit process is the pretrial phase, where you and your attorney file a lawsuit in court and prepare for trial. This part of the process can take months or years depending on the complexity and circumstances of your case and involves three separate stages:
- complaint and answer, where the complaint is filed and the defendant must “answer” the complaint.
- discovery, where each side gathers evidence, testimony and information to support their case.
- motions, where the defendant can file a motion before or after the discovery phase is complete to have the trial dismissed.
7. Going to mediation. During this optional part of the personal injury lawsuit process, parties can choose to have their case resolved by a neutral, third-party mediator. These mediations are voluntary, non-binding agreements that the parties can reject or accept.
8. Going to trial. The most famous part of the personal injury lawsuit process, going to trial involves having your attorney present your case in court. During a trial, each side gets the opportunity to present their arguments, and a judge or jury determines 1) if the defendant is legally responsible (liable) for the injuries and 2) if so, what amount of damages should be awarded.
During a personal injury trial, a jury is selected, statements and arguments are presented, witness testimony is given and cross-examined, and the jury deliberates before give a verdict.
9. Post trial. Just because you win your case doesn’t mean that you will necessarily get paid right away. If the defense appeals the case (which means to ask an appellate court to reconsider the verdict), your win could be overturned. If, however, you win your case and no appeal is made, before you get paid, your lawyer will need to pay any companies who have a legal claim to any of the award money (known as a lien). Finally, once all liens are paid, your lawyer will write you a check for your share of the winnings.
Conclusion: The Personal Injury Lawsuit Process
The lawsuit process can be long, complex and frustrating, but with an experienced and qualified personal injury attorney on your side, you can get the money you deserve for accidents and injuries that are not your fault.
Before hiring a lawyer for your personal injury trial, be sure to find one who works on a contingency basis, offers free consultations, and who has experience trying your type of case.
Get a Free Consultation with Gebhard Law Offices
If you are looking to hire an attorney for a personal injury lawsuit of any sort, call Karl Gebhard today for a free consultation.
Karl aggressively pursues all avenues of compensation for his clients, and works hard to make sure that they get the compensation they deserve. And, because Karl works on a contingency basis, he will not accept any fees for his legal services until he successfully wins the case.
For your free consultation, call today at 414-873-6550.