Learn the case process, from your first meeting with an attorney to when you get a settlement check.
Most Americans are not familiar with how personal injury cases work — and unless they’ve been hurt in some type of accident, that is how it should be! If you are starting a personal injury claim for the first time, the process may seem long and overly complicated. You may be confused about what will happen, what is required of you, and how long it will take.
As Phoenix personal injury attorneys, we understand that most people are confused about the personal injury case process. We have outlined the basic process that will happen in most personal injury cases, including car accidents, products liability, dog bites and other claims, to help you learn more about what to expect.
Learning More About The Case
After your initial meeting with your Phoenix personal injury attorney, he or she will start to gather information about the case. This is vital to knowing who the responsible party or parties are, what your damages are, and if there are any potential land mines in the case that could limit your recovery.
Your lawyer will obtain the basic facts of your case by interviewing you, other witnesses, and the police officers who may have responded to the scene. He or she will also review any police reports or other evidence of what happened. Next, your attorney will request records and documentation about your damages, from medical bills and records from your treating physicians to information about lost wages from your employer. Finally, your lawyer should verify insurance coverage to determine what policies potentially cover your accident. He or she will then send a letter to these insurance companies to let them know that you have an attorney, and that all communications about the claim should go to him or her — not to you.
Preparing A Claim
Once your Phoenix personal injury attorney has a full understanding of the facts of the case, he or she will prepare what is known as a settlement package or a demand letter for the insurance company. Your lawyer will include the facts of your case, the basis for liability (why their insured is responsible), an explanation of your injuries, including your treatment and prognosis, a statement of your damages (including specific losses such as property damage and bills as well as pain and suffering and other losses), and a settlement demand. The goal of this letter is to present a strong case to the insurance company so that the insurer decides to settle the case. Litigation is costly, risky and stressful, and it can take a long time to complete. It is often better for you to receive a fair settlement at the outset from the insurance company than to go to court.
If the insurance company decides to settle, it may take some time before a final settlement package is negotiated. The process may involve several offers and counteroffers before an agreement is reached.
Going to Trial
If the insurance company will not settle your case, then you must decide with your Phoenix personal injury attorney if filing a lawsuit is the right decision for you. If so, then the process begins with filing a claim in the appropriate court. The other party (and/or their insurance company) will have the opportunity to file a response, and then each side will exchange information in what is known as discovery.
After all information and evidence has been exchanged and all pre-trial issues have been decided, the case will proceed to trial. In many — but not all — cases, a claim will settle at some point before trial, even on the night before. However, if the case goes to trial, your Phoenix personal injury attorney will be ready to present a strong case for compensation. Each side will have the chance to introduce evidence, cross examine witnesses and give an opening and closing statement. Then the jury or a judge will issue a verdict. Either side can then file an appeal if they believe that the court made a legal error during the process.
Disbursement of Funds
If you have accepted a settlement package or won at trial, you will receive compensation from your insurance. The insurance company will send your lawyer a release and settlement check. The money is typically deposited into a special account with your attorney while the law firm determines what expenses must be deducted, including attorney’s fees, and if there are any other parties that much be paid (such as healthcare providers). You will then have a chance to review the disbursement sheet and receive the funds.
Undoubtedly, the personal injury claim process is overwhelming, but you are not alone. At the Law Offices of Larry H. Parker, we shepherd our clients through the process, making sure that they understand their rights and options at every step of the way. We never charge a fee unless we get money for our clients, and initial consultations are always free. Contact us today at 602-340-0030 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment.