If you are the victim of another person's carelessness and have been injured, your best chances for fair compensation could depend on good legal representation. Recovering from an accident while dealing with insurance companies and claims can tax even the most organized and energetic people, and the process toward fair compensation can be long and stressful. It may help to have an understanding of the way that personal injury cases generally progress, so read on to learn about the six main steps in the process.
1. Meet with Your Attorney
Many personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you won't owe attorney's fees unless you win your case. Since attorneys value their time, you will likely know from your first meeting the validity of your personal injury case, since they will only pursue cases that are likely to result in fair compensation for you, and a percentage of that compensation for them. You will sign a fee agreement if the attorney agrees to represent you. You can assist in your claim getting off to a good start by appearing at the initial meeting with important documents and information like:
- The police or accident report.
- Insurance information for all parties.
- Your medical bills (thus far).
2. File the Suit
The suit, which details who was at fault in the accident and why, and how much you expect to be compensated, is filed in court. The other interested parties will also receive a copy of the suit.
3. The Deposition
This meeting is part of the case's discovery process; an appropriate name since all interested parties will have a comprehensive overview of nearly every aspect of the case should it come to trial. You might even look upon the deposition as a "mini trial", with most all parties being questioned under oath about the accident. Common deponents (those being questioned) include you, witnesses to the accident, responding personnel, other vehicle occupants, etc. The value and importance of a deposition should be underestimated; settlement offers often follow depositions after the other party has had the opportunity to predict a possible court outcome.
4. Settlement Offers
The offer to end the case for a specified sum of money can occur at any time, but often occurs after the deposition and before the case goes to trial. Litigating in court can cost both parties a great deal of money and take a great deal of time, so settlement offers and the negotiations that follow can present a valuable opportunity for all parties. It should not be surprising that some 95% of all personal injury claims are settled before the court case begin.
5. The Trial
If no settlement is offered or agreed to, the court case begins. A judge will preside over attorney statements, testimony, presentation of evidence and finally, a verdict.
6. Collection of Award
Unless your case is appealed, you will receive a check from the other side's insurance agency if your case was successfully litigated.
Discuss this process with a personal injury attorney from a firm like Knochel Law for more information.