Once another’s negligence injures you, you have the right to seek the appropriate compensation with a personal injury case. We believe that’s true regardless of how you’re injured (Slip-and-fall, car accident, motorcycle accident, medical malpractice, etc.). But without previous experience, it can be hard to know what to expect.
That’s why you need a personal injury case timeline.
At Sandel Law Firm, we understand how hard it can be to recover after any injury. That’s why we’re here to help. We specialize in personal injury cases, and we’re using our knowledge to lay out an accurate timeline for your benefit. We’ll provide information such as how long a lawsuit takes to settle, what the standard process lawsuit is, and more.
Don’t proceed without the information you need. Continue reading to understand each and every step that may be in your future. That is your best way to ensure a desirable outcome.
Personal Injury Lawsuit Timeline
This is it. Everything below this portion will be the average personal injury case timeline. From when the accident occurs to the start of the injury trail, you’ll have everything you need to know. After thoroughly reading this portion of the article, you can confidently proceed.
An Accident Occurs
This is the very start of the personal injury case timeline. Before this point, a personal injury case is the furthest thing from your mind. However, due to some accident, perhaps one of the ones we mentioned above, things could happen that get you injured. Worse, the injury could be life-altering — Either temporarily or permanently.
From our experience, a few accidents push the personal injury case timeline into motion more often than others. Here are some of the most common personal injury case accidents:
- Auto Accidents. According to research, over 3 million people in the U.S. are injured yearly in car accidents. That’s a frighting statistic. And it highlights just how likely injuries from auto accidents are in the modern vehicle-driven world.
- Medical Malpractice. Medical malpractice describes when a health care professional neglects to provide appropriate treatment to a patient. And that negligence results in a patient’s harm, injury or even death. According to hospital records, 65,000 to 200,000 annual deaths occur from medical malpractice.
- Slip and fall accidents. According to OSHA, nearly 230,000 reported non-fatal accidents occurred in 2019 alone. That means that these accidents are among the most likely.
Note: Depending on the accident, it may be in your best interest to collect evidence to support your future claim. Taking pictures and videos of the scene after ensuring everyone in the area is safe can be beneficial later on.
Seek Medical Assistance
Medical assistance should always be the top priority after an accident— Whether you believe you have serious injuries or not. That’s true for three simple reasons. The safety of those involved is more important than anything else. Medical assistance immediately after an accident can spot injuries that may be invisible to the untrained eye. This could include concussions and whiplash, among others.
The examination results can provide proof of injuries, which can be used in your favor later on.
Consult a Personal Injury Lawyer
We understand that many people think that this shouldn’t be so early in the personal injury case timeline. Perhaps, those people, or even you, think you should wait until after you speak with your insurance company. But that’s not the case. Personal injury lawyers won’t accept a case that doesn’t need a lawyer. And with a free consultation, you have nothing to lose.
Consulting with a personal injury lawyer can ensure you receive the compensation you rightfully deserve. According to the IRC, those who hired a personal injury lawyer received 3.5 times larger settlements. All in all, the facts don’t lie. Consulting and even hiring a personal injury lawyer when appropriate is always in your best interest.
Examine Claim and Medical Records
After you hire them, your personal injury lawyer will examine your claim and medical records to build a case. Fair warning, this part of the process will take a lot of time. Your lawyer needs to know you well. They need to understand how the accident happened, your existing medical conditions and much more.
Given how long this process can take, it may be handled by someone else called an intake specialist. But a word to the wise— Don’t hide anything from your lawyer or the intake specialist. Unlike many insurance companies, your personal injury case lawyer is on your side. So never lie or hide important or trivial information from them.
On that note, always tell your lawyer if you were injured before the accident as well. Knowing that will help them avoid unpleasant surprises further down the personal injury case timeline.
Making a Claim With Your Insurance Company or Demanding a Settlement
Some larger firms will sway you away from going to court so they can cash out with a settlement early in the process. However, just because they do it doesn’t mean it’s the correct course of action. A good personal injury lawyer will analyze your situation and determine if going to court is the right choice.
Sometimes a settlement may be the right decision. Other times it won’t be.
The claims process can be slightly tricky, but we’ll walk you through it. In an auto accident, a claim is filed with the at-fault driver’s insurance company prior to a real lawsuit. But if your injury did not stem from an auto accident, your lawyer would determine who is responsible. Then, they would file a claim with that person’s insurance company.
After filing a claim, the at-fault party’s insurance company will hire a claims adjuster to investigate and negotiate the settlement. But what if there is no insurance company? In that case, a demand letter can be sent instead. A demand letter mandates compensation for your injuries.
If you receive an offer in response to your demand letter, you and your lawyer will decide if it’s appropriate.
Filing Injury Lawsuit
If the insurance company won’t settle for the appropriate compensation, it’s time to file a lawsuit. While you can typically wait a few years to file, it’s best to do it sooner rather than later. Remember that lawsuits are not always the right move. However, there are times when insurance companies shut down.
When that happens, a lawsuit may wake them up.
Your lawyer can initiate your lawsuit with a Complaint in the County Circuit Court. From here, things will be with your lawyer, and they can update you on the progress.
Discovery (Both Sides)
Now, it begins. During the discovery process, each party investigates the other’s legal claims and defenses. That means they will collect all relevant information on you and the accident. For auto accidents, that can cover whether you wore a seatbelt, if there was a mechanical issue and so on.
The other party will also intensely examine your claim. They’ll consult with medical experts regarding your injuries, speak with your previous medical providers, look at reports and more. That makes it all the more vital that you tell your lawyer everything ahead of time.
The discovery process will usually start with a request for production and admissions. Then, depositions, expert witnesses and in some cases, a CME examination.
Arbitration and/or Mediation
Once the discovery process is complete, lawyers will try to settle through mediation. During mediation, both parties will meet with an agreed-upon mediator and present their arguments. The mediator is not a judge and jury. They do not decide who is right or wrong. Their role in this process is simply to facilitate the parties’ negotiations.
If mediation fails, both parties will move on to the second type of alternative dispute resolution— Arbitration. During the arbitration, a hearing between the plaintiff and defendant, overseen by a neutral third party, will take place. The crucial difference between mediation and arbitration is that arbitration is binding.
Occasionally, arbitration is held instead of going to court— saving everyone time and money. That means that when the arbitrator reaches a decision, it’s final.
Injury Trial Begins
If mediation and arbitration fail, the case will go to trial. This final part of the personal injury case timeline can vary in length. In many cases, the trial may end within hours. In other cases, it will continue for months.
During the trial, all the information will be shown to the jury, and they will reach a final verdict. However, before going to trial, your lawyer should explain the trial’s process, risks and benefits.
As we mentioned, it’s immensely important that you discuss your case with an experienced personal injury lawyer. At Sandel Law Firm, you can consult with Kevin Sandel— A man with insider knowledge—to access the best path.
Make sure you receive the compensation you deserve. Get your free consultation with Sandel Law Firm now.