If you have been injured and believe that you may have a personal injury claim, it is only natural that you have questions about what to do first, what the litigation process entails, and what you can expect. At Daic Law, we are often asked the same, or similar, questions about personal injury claims. Here are our top frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the personal injury litigation process.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Personal Injury Litigation Process
Read the following FAQs about the personal injury litigation process, and if you have additional questions, or want to discuss your situation, contact Daic Law directly for more information.
Q: I was injured in an accident. What should I do first?
A: After any sort of injury, the first step is getting medical treatment. You want to have a record of any injuries you sustained and what treatment was ordered or administered. Remember that after an accident, it can sometimes take a few days to feel the full effect. It is important to get medical attention right away to avoid complications.
Q: Do I need to talk to an attorney before talking to insurance companies?
A: Yes! If your injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence, then it is always advisable to contact an attorney before managing insurance claims. Insurance companies will often try to get you to settle for a minimum amount, without really considering the extent of your injuries. An attorney can help ensure that you are protected and not taken advantage of by insurance adjusters.
Q: I hired an attorney. What happens now?
A: Once you hire an attorney, he or she will begin the process of investigating your claim and gathering information. This is where the bulk of the personal injury litigation process occurs. Your attorney will guide you through the following steps:
- Investigating your Claim: Includes gathering accident reports, photographs, witness statements, medical records, bills, treatment plans, and any other relevant records. This is a process that may take weeks or months depending on your case.
- Negotiations: Many personal injury claims are settled via negotiations without ever going to trial. At this stage, your attorney will attempt to settle the case for a reasonable amount that will ensure you get maximum financial compensation for your injuries and losses.
- Lawsuit Filed: If initial negotiations fail, or your attorney believes that taking the case to trial is the best option, then a lawsuit will be filed with the applicable court. Once a lawsuit is filed, you may find your case process slowing – that is because there are many steps that must be taken in order to adequately litigate a case.
Q: What is the timeline for a personal injury lawsuit?
A: It is difficult to give an accurate timeline in general, because every case is different. There are, however, some general processes that must be completed after a lawsuit is filed. These processes include:
- Discovery: During discovery, each party to the lawsuit has the opportunity to investigate the other party’s claims. Each party has the opportunity to ask the other certain questions (interrogatories), interview (depose) witnesses, and gather information. In most personal injury cases, this process takes between six months and one year.
- Mediation and Negotiation: Some attorneys will attempt to resolve a case via mediation, rather than following through with a formal trial. In such cases, both parties and their attorneys meet with a neutral mediator in an effort to resolve the matter amicably.
- Trial: If mediation does not adequately resolve the case, then it will proceed to trial. Personal injury trials often last weeks or months, but sometimes can be resolved in as little as a day.
Q: My trial date keeps changing. Why?
A: When courts schedule their dockets, there is no guarantee that the assigned judge will be available. It all depends on other cases already scheduled or in progress. If your trial date is cancelled or rescheduled, be patient with the court. Neither party or involved attorneys have control over the court’s scheduling.
Additionally, there may be a strategic reason for your case to be continued, such as additional time to conduct discovery, obtain further medical treatment, etc.
Q: If I win my case, how long does it take for me to get the money awarded?
A: If you “won” your case and the judge awarded you monetary damages, there are a few steps that must be completed before you can collect. Consider the following:
- The party ordered to pay you must be able, and willing to do so. If they fail to pay the judgment, then additional collection processes will follow, which could delay your payment.
- If the other party fails to comply with the judgment order, most states allow their wages to be garnished. This requires a separate hearing, where you and your attorney must prove that you are owed money and it has not been paid.
- In most states, the time period for collecting judgments is 10 years. If that expiration nears and you have not been paid, you must file for an extension with the court.
- If the party subject to pay the judgment amount files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, he or she is absolved of the debt and your ability to collect the award will likely be cut off.
- If you and the other party live in separate states, you must record the judgment as a “foreign judgment” in the state in order to maintain enforceability.
Q: What happens if I lose my case?
A: If you do not “win” your case, there are steps you can take to appeal the court’s decision. During an appeal, there are no lawyers or jurors present. No witnesses or new evidence can be submitted either. An appeal is reviewed by a set of judges who will determine whether the original verdict should be upheld. Some reasons why verdicts are changed include errors in the original trial, concerns over a judge’s order, or concerns over the judgment made by the jury.
Find out more about the personal injury litigation process by calling Daic Law at (713) 808-5246, or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.