The Personal Injury Legal Process

U.S. Personal Injury Attorneys

Lawyers Near You Representing Injured Accident Victims

If you have been hurt in any type of accident or incident that appears to be another party's fault, you may have questions about how the personal injury process works and how long it might take. While it is helpful to know about the full legal process of a personal injury case, it is important to remember that must injury cases settle—often before a formal lawsuit is ever filed. You should also keep in mind that a settlement could be reached at any point during the process as well. The attorneys who are part of the Top U.S. Personal Injury Lawyers directory are prepared to help with your case so that you can get the compensation you need to get back on your feet.

Seek Medical Attention

Your first step after being hurt in an accident is to seek medical treatment for your injuries. Go to the hospital or make an appointment with a trusted doctor as soon as possible. Seeking medical attention is important for your health, of course, but it will also help your case. If you put off seeing a doctor, insurance companies and possibly a jury might assume that you were not that badly injured.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

It is generally a good idea to have at least a conversation about your injuries with a qualified personal injury attorney unless your injuries are extremely minor. You might be able to handle a very small injury claim on your own, but you definitely need an experienced lawyer's help for serious injuries or if the at-fault party is already being difficult. If you are hurt badly enough to miss a few days of work or to require follow-up medical care, you should have an attorney on your side.

Preliminary Investigations and Demands

Once you hire a personal injury lawyer, he or she will interview you to gather as much information as possible about the incident, your injuries, and the medical care you have received. You should be as honest and forthcoming as possible with your lawyer. Your attorney will also request a copy of your medical bills and records related to your injury, as well as any available reports about the incident.

If your lawyer thinks that your case could be settled, he or she may make a demand to the other party's insurance company or attorneys. Depending on your situation, your lawyer may wait until you have reached the point of maximum medical improvement or MMI. This is where you have ended your medical care and have recovered as much as doctors expect that you will. By waiting until you reach MMI, your attorney will know how much your case is worth—at least the medical portion. If a settlement cannot be reached by this point, your lawyer will have no choice but to move on to litigation.

Filing the Lawsuit

Litigation starts in a personal injury case when your attorney helps you file a formal lawsuit in court. Depending on the type of personal injury case, your window for filing a lawsuit—known as the statute of limitations—may vary, but you usually have at least two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit.

The Discovery Phase

Once the lawsuit has been filed, the case enters the discovery phase in which both sides investigate the other party's claims, defenses, and arguments. Your lawyer will likely send interrogatories—formal written questions—and requests for documents to the other side. He or she will also probably take depositions from any involved parties, including witnesses. The discovery phase can take up to a year, depending on how busy the court is and the complexity of your specific case.

Negotiations and Possible Mediation

As discovery draws to an end, attorneys for both sides will usually begin discussing settlement possibilities. Sometimes, the conversations stay between the lawyers on behalf of their clients, but in other situations, the attorneys may encourage their clients to attempt mediation. In mediation, a third-party mediator will facilitate conversations between the parties in pursuit of a resolution that avoids trial. If negotiations and mediation fail, a trial will be scheduled.

Personal Injury Trial

All of the preparations have been building up to this point—a trial in which the judge or a jury will decide your case. A trial may last a single day, or it could take several weeks, and even the start date could be pushed back because of the court's schedule.

At trial, both parties will have the opportunity to present their arguments, evidence, and witnesses to the judge and/or jury, and both parties will have the opportunity to respond as well. It will be up to the judge or jury to decide on the issues of liability and damages. If your case goes to trial, you will only collect compensation after a verdict is issued in your favor and all appeals have been heard.

Contact a Top U.S. Personal Injury Lawyer

For more information about the personal injury process in your state, contact a qualified personal injury attorney near you. The Top U.S. Personal Injury Lawyers are dedicated to protecting the rights and best interests of their clients, and many offer free initial consultations. Call for an appointment today.

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