Whether you’ve recently been in a car accident or have been attacked by a dog, there are many reasons why you may be pursuing a personal injury case. All of the documentation and reaching out to various attorneys can be stressful, given that you’re already nursing a wound and trying to balance your personal life as well.
What can you expect when your case goes to court? While there isn’t a specific guideline that can cover each and every possible personal injury case, there are some main practices and procedures that ring true for different scenarios.
Continue reading to learn more:
What Can I Expect?
Unfortunately, there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes when you file a legal action. Personal injury cases that go to trial can sometimes last over two years. However, you’ve got an ace up your sleeve, as many cases are settled long before a lawsuit is filed. This is often due to the legal representation you have by your side. A strong law firm with a good reputation can often drive a defendant to settle, simply because they stand to lose considerably less money. It’s a more affordable alternative to both sides, and certainly shouldn’t be ruled out as a possibility.
Insurance companies serve as a good example. If the insurance company understands that they’ve got a lengthy legal battle ahead of them, it’s more practical for them to settle the case, rather than spend large sums of money hiring their own lawyers to defend it. This is especially true if there’s a chance they may actually lose.
So, what happens if you move forward with a trial? Here’s a brief step-by-step breakdown of what you can expect, from start to finish:
Timeline of a Personal Injury Case
After any injury, it’s important to seek the advice of a medical professional. By doing so, you’ll have all of your injuries documented. This can be extremely valuable should the case go to trial.
After getting your injuries checked out, it’s time to perform attorney research. Every law firm is different, and finding the right balance between skill set, reputation, and cost is going to be very important for your case. If you need to go to court, your attorney will be fighting your battles, so choose wisely.
The Initial Investigation Process
This is when the law firm conducts its own investigation into what happened at the scene. They will collect valuable information like police and medical reports, and may even interview witnesses that were there when it happened. This doesn’t happen overnight; the investigation can take days or even weeks to complete, depending on the nature of the accident.
Settlement Negotiations Begin
Usually by this point, your legal team will have a more complete understanding of what happened to you, and what your rights, options and entitlements are as you move forward. In most cases, this is when settlement negotiations begin. Insurance companies will often try to settle the case outside of court instead of risk a costly legal battle on their end. Once these negotiations start, they will proceed through any court hearing.
Preparation of The Lawsuit
If you do not like the settlement offer, you have the opportunity to move forward with your lawsuit. This is when your legal team will conduct final case research and prepare to go into battle.
Defendants are Served
After filing the lawsuit, the defendants will be served. The courts will usually require this to happen within 30-60 days of filing the lawsuit. Once you serve your opponent, the real work begins.
After being served, a defendant has 30 days to respond to the lawsuit with their papers. Sometimes they may even ask for some extra time to prepare; they may even come back with a better settlement offer now that they see you are serious.
Both parties will then exchange written questions; these are referred to as interrogatories. Within about a month after these are mailed, both sides are required to answer in writing. Attorneys will be assisting with this process every step of the way.
Defense Medical Examination
More often than not, the defense will then request its own medical examination to assess whether or not you have been truthful with the claims you’re making in your case. This is why having the documentation from the scene is so important. Your attorney should always be present during this process.
Oral depositions usually take place within 6 months of the filing. During a deposition, a court reporter writes down the answers you provide to questions from the other side’s attorney. This usually occurs at an attorney’s office, and requires a lot of preparation. It’s important to listen to your attorney’s advice closely.
If by this point you still haven’t agreed to a settlement, both parties will begin to hire expert witnesses whose testimony can help swing the case further in their favor. These witnesses will assist with the presentation of arguments during trial.
After the expert witnesses are announced by both sides, it’s typical for the court to request both parties meet for a final settlement conference to see if they may still work something out. This is managed by a mediator who reviews the case and assists both parties with negotiations. Mediation usually takes about a day, and occurs around 9 months into the process. More complex cases may take even more time.
If mediation fails, then it’s time to go to trial. Non-jury trials can even be resolved in as fast as one day. However, if there’s a jury involved, arguments and deliberation can spread over a timeline of months.
Disbursement of Recovery Funds
After the result of the trial, the awarded party will be granted their rights to any financial supplementation within 30 days of the verdict. The trial is over, and ideally, you have walked away with your compensation.
Contact Gokal Law
Have you been injured, and are considering taking the case to court? Contact Alison Gokal of Gokal Law Group, Inc. Our team will diligently investigate your claims, interview witnesses, and give you the support you need to win your case. The sooner you contact us, the more effective we are at getting you the justice you deserve.
Gokal Law Group is a family firm that treats our clients as if they were our own flesh and blood. We fight for our clients as we would our own children, sisters, brothers, and parents. We are our clients’ Warriors, fighting to bring them justice and right the wrongs they have endured.
Each attorney has a specific practice area for which they are tried, tested, and battle-ready. Each has vast years of experience in their practice area, providing them the knowledge, skills, and vision to fight and win. Learn more about Gokal Law Group.
I appreciate what you said about getting expert witnesses. I think that would go well with evidence gathering. I’ll have to consider getting a lawyer to litigate my case.
I appreciate that you explained that you can file a lawsuit when you do not like the settlement offer. I guess a personal injury attorney would be needed for this kind of process to know if you really are in need of a lawsuit. My sister has been in an incident this evening after a drunk driver hit her car, so she should consult whether she is making the right decision regarding the division of payments when she talked to the other driver.