What to Expect When You File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Feb. 16, 2022
Getting hurt when you least expect it is a stressful, scary experience. You may not know what to do or where to turn. There are a ton of things to worry about, including your financial security, rehabilitation, familial responsibilities, medical treatment, and more.
The last thing you need to worry about is the complicated litigation and negotiation that’s necessary to secure the financial compensation you deserve. That’s for your lawyer to figure out. However, it may bring you peace of mind to understand the legal process and how your case will likely progress through the system.
Medical Record Review
First, your lawyer will want to know everything about the incident and will review your medical records. This process can take several weeks and may even take several months, depending on how complicated your case is and how quickly the records come in.
During this phase, you may sit down with your lawyer several times to answer questions. You will also be tasked with compiling any and all medical bills associated with the injury that you received.
Maximum Medical Improvement Consideration
When you decide to file a lawsuit, you may want to get into court and get it over with as quickly as possible. Be patient. Your lawyer may choose not to make a demand until you reach your maximum medical improvement. This is because your lawyer wants to know the extent of your possible recovery and how much you will endure during the healing process. The amount your lawyer asks for will be based on these factors.
Many claims never get beyond this point. Why? Settlements are common, and these often occur after your lawyer makes the first demand, which happens before the lawsuit is filed.
Filing the Suit
If you do not reach a settlement, your lawyer will file a complaint with the court. This complaint will summarize what you allege happened and how you were harmed by the incident. Once filed, the court will have a month or more to locate the defendant and serve them with the lawsuit.
After the defendant is served, the pretrial phase can begin. This consists of a complaint and answer phase, a discovery phase, and a motions phase. The answer phase is when the defendant must answer your original complaint. In the discovery phases, the lawyers for both sides will gather evidence and testimony. The motions phase is when either lawyer can ask the court to take any action for further investigation on their behalf.
As you can imagine, this process can take months.
Settlement Through Mediation
At any time, you can decide to forgo the trial and enter mediation. In mediation, a neutral mediator will help negotiate a reasonable settlement. If you’re not happy with the settlement offered, you can reject the offer. If you do, however, you will have to go to trial.
The trial will be structured like most any other trial. There will be a jury, opening statements, witness testimony, closing arguments, and a verdict. If you receive a favorable verdict, the defendant may choose to pay up at that time. But that’s not a given. Even if you win your lawsuit, the defendant can appeal the decision.
If upheld by a higher court, the defendant will have to pay. The money will go to your lawyer, who will settle any liens or debts incurred during the process before handing the rest of the award over to you.
If you’ve been injured, you need a compassionate lawyer on your side who will take the time to explore your case and fight for your best settlement. Call the Law Office of Kevin R. Hansen today for more information about how the legal system can make you whole again.