Navigating through the various stages of a personal injury claim can be a daunting experience. It’s a journey that requires patience, guidance, and a clear understanding of the claims process as a whole.
If you or someone close to you has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, knowing what lies ahead can make all the difference. With that in mind, here is a detailed breakdown of each of the stages of a personal injury claim:
- Medical Treatment and Documentation
- Consultation with an Attorney
- Investigation and Gathering Evidence
- Filing an Insurance Claim
- The Demand Letter
- Filing a Lawsuit (if Necessary)
- Discovery Phase
- Mediation and Repeated Negotiation
- The Verdict and Potential Appeals
- Settlement and Closure
1. Medical Treatment and Documentation
Before anything else, see a doctor right away if you’re hurt. Doing so is, of course, important for your health, but it is also essential in creating a record of your injuries and treatment. Even if you don’t feel severely hurt, it’s best to get checked out the day of the incident, as the record will help show how the accident affected you, an absolute necessity when you’re seeking compensation for your injuries and suffering.
2. Consultation with an Attorney
After you’ve taken care of your immediate health issues, speak with a lawyer. They’ll walk you through what happened, inform you about your rights, and give you an idea of the next steps in your claim, all to help you make a sensible decision for your unique situation. Don’t sweat the idea of steep, upfront lawyers’ fees, either: Most personal injury attorneys will charge you on a contingency basis, meaning they’ll only get paid if they win your case.
3. Investigation and Gathering Evidence
Going forward from your initial consultation, your lawyer will start collecting all the evidence to support your claim, which means acquiring things like reports from the accident, your medical records, and statements from any eyewitnesses.
4. Filing an Insurance Claim
The next thing your lawyer will do is contact the insurance company of the person or business that’s responsible for your injury. This is when your lawyer officially tells them about your claim and starts the negotiation process.
5. The Demand Letter
Following the insurance claim is the demand letter, in which your attorney outlines your injuries, their impact on your life, and the compensation you seek for them. Demand letters are a great tool for accelerating the personal injury claims process, as they present and tell your story, backed by facts and figures, with the aim of settling.
Negotiation is a game of give and take — a balancing act that weighs patience against persistence — and it’s here where things can get a bit more intense. Your attorney will deal with the insurance company, striving to reach a settlement that covers your damage.
While your attorney will be the one at the negotiating table, you’ll ultimately decide whether to accept an offer or hold out for a better one. That said, your attorney can help you evaluate the quality of an offer and make an informed decision.
7. Filing a Lawsuit (if Necessary)
If a fair settlement can’t be reached, your attorney may advise filing a lawsuit, which elevates your claim to the next level: the court system. Transitioning into a lawsuit demands a different strategy, and your attorney will do all they can to prepare.
8. Discovery Phase
Once a lawsuit is filed, both sides will exchange information in the discovery phase, which includes depositions, interrogations, and document requests. The purpose of the discovery phase is to ensure both sides are aware of all the pertinent facts of the case before trial.
9. Mediation and Repeated Negotiation
Even after a lawsuit is filed, negotiations continue, and oftentimes, a mediator is brought in to help reach a settlement. You can think of it like seeking a truce — an attempt to find common ground and resolve your case without the need for a lengthy trial. After the discovery phase, both sides will have a better view of the facts of the case, which can lead the defendant’s insurance company to alter their offer.
If mediation doesn’t lead to a settlement, your case proceeds to trial, where the judge or jury hears your case and makes a decision. The downside is that if the judge rules in the other party’s favor, it could impact or prevent you from recovering anything. Such is why the best personal injury attorneys strive to obtain a fair settlement in the negotiation phase.
11. The Verdict and Potential Appeals
After a trial, a verdict is reached, and if the decision is in your favor, you’ll be awarded compensation. However, the story might not end there, as the other party could file appeals, which can prolong the process.
12. Settlement and Closure
Finally, when a verdict is upheld, or a settlement is reached without a trial, your funds will be disbursed. Your attorney will be paid a percentage of the settlement, and you’ll retain the rest. It is the closure you’ve been waiting for and the end of a long journey.
Navigating Your Personal Injury Claim Journey
Familiarizing yourself with the stages of a personal injury claim can help prepare you for what’s ahead. As you embark on this journey, it’s important to stay informed, ask questions, and actively participate in your case. With the right approach and understanding, you increase your odds of obtaining a favorable outcome.
Since 1992, our personal injury attorneys at the Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, APC. have been fighting for the people of San Diego. Now, when those injured in automobile accidents – including car, truck, and motorcycle accidents – need financial help, or for the families that need to know that the loss of a loved one could have been prevented, there is a personal injury law firm in San Diego that is on their side. If you or a family member has been injured, call the lawyers at Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, APC. There’s never been a better time than right now to speak to a personal injury attorney—FREE of charge. Call us at 858-551-2090 or request a free consultation online today!
SENIOR PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY & FIRM FOUNDER
Michael Pines is a former insurance company attorney who graduated from the University of California Hastings College of the Law in 1987. While he was an insurance attorney, he learned from behind the scenes how insurance companies work and how they decide how much to pay injured people. Now that he works against insurance companies, Michael’s inside knowledge has resulted in significant benefits to his clients injured in car accidents. Learn more about Michael Pines