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Timeline of a Personal Injury Case According To a Personal Injury Lawyer

Timeline of a Personal Injury Case According To a Personal Injury Lawyer

Timeline of a Personal Injury Case According To a Personal Injury LawyerAlthough every personal injury claim is different, there is a structure that applies to most claims.

Following is an example of a typical progression of events that must occur, from the immediate aftermath of the accident to the moment your compensation appears in your bank account. This sequence might vary according to the circumstances and strategy.

What To Do Following an Accident

What To Do Following an Accident

What you do after an accident can dramatically affect your chances of winning a resulting personal injury claim.

Take the following actions, depending on the severity of your injuries:

  • Make sure your physical environment is safe. Move your car to the side of the road, for example. If you are in a vehicle accident, do not leave the scene of the accident until the police arrive.
  • Call 911 to summon the police and, if necessary, an ambulance.
  • Get contact details of any witnesses.
  • Obtain insurance details from the other driver if you were involved in a car accident.
  • Use your cell phone to photograph the scene of the accident as well as your injuries.
  • Photograph any property damage.
  • Don’t apologize or say anything else that might be interpreted as an acceptance of responsibility for the accident.
  • Seek medical attention.
  • Contact a personal injury attorney as soon as you can.

You might need to take other actions as well, depending on the nature of your accident.

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Seek Prompt Medical Treatment

Seek medical treatment immediately, even if you don’t think you are seriously hurt. Delaying medical care will make it much easier for the defendant to deny that the accident caused your injuries.

Remember that certain injuries, such as traumatic brain injury and whiplash, may take time to develop symptoms. Seek medical treatment anyway to safeguard your health and to create evidence that you can use later.

Schedule Initial Consultation(s) With Personal Injury Lawyers

Schedule an initial consultation with a lawyer. In fact, you should schedule consultations with more than one lawyer so you can hire the one who seems the most competent. In any case, get a lawyer involved as soon as you can. The sooner you get started enforcing your claim, the better your chances will be.

Preliminary Investigation and Evidence Collection

After the initial consultation, your lawyer will conduct an investigation to find out as much as possible about your claim.

Relevant evidence might include:

  • Copies of police reports and accident reports
  • Employment and wage records (to determine your lost earnings)
  • Medical records
  • Medical bills
  • Photographs and videos of the accident
  • Commentary and conclusions from experts
  • Physical evidence, such as skid marks
  • A statement from your doctor

All evidence must comply with the Texas Rules of Evidence before you can use it in court. Although police and accident reports are generally inadmissible, they can be useful during settlement negotiations.

Draft and Send a Demand Letter

You need to send a demand letter to whoever is responsible for paying your claim—an insurance company, for example. The demand letter triggers the negotiation phase of your case.

You might include the following:

  • A factual background statement
  • An explanation of why the defendant is liable
  • A description of the damages you are claiming
  • A formal demand for compensation
  • Evidentiary attachments

You may or may not choose to include a specific amount of damages. Some attorneys prefer to let the other side make the first offer.

Engage in Settlement Negotiations

Negotiation is where most personal injury claims are resolved. However, most insurance adjusters have several tricks to lower the value of your claim or deny it altogether. The other side won’t dare even try these tactics if you hire an experienced personal injury lawyer with a strong track record of winning at trial.

File a Personal Injury Lawsuit (If Necessary)

Filing a lawsuit doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll go to trial. All it means is that you have filed a formal complaint and notified the other side of it. The opposing party will then file a formal answer. After that, you could wait weeks or months for your actual trial date.

Filing a lawsuit offers three strategic advantages for people who don’t want to go to trial:

  • It beats the statute of limitations deadline
  • It gets the other side’s attention
  • It gets you access to the pretrial discovery process

A settlement is the most likely outcome of your case, even after you file a lawsuit.

The Pretrial Discovery Process

The pretrial discovery process allows both sides to access evidence that is in the other side’s possession. This includes under-oath testimony, answers to written questions, copies of documents, and physical evidence.

Keep in mind that just as you get access to the other side’s evidence, they also get access to yours. That might even mean an independent medical examination of your injuries.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (Mediation or Arbitration)

Courts often pressure parties to submit their dispute to mediation because an early settlement ends the case, meaning less work for a busy court. A third-party mediator will try to help the two parties resolve their dispute by agreement. The mediator, however, has no authority to compel the parties to accept a solution.

At any time during the claim resolution process, you can agree with the opposing party to submit your claim to arbitration. In arbitration, the parties hire a private judge to impose a resolution of their claim. The process works like a trial except quicker, simpler, and easier. You normally cannot appeal an arbitration judgment.

Proceed To Trial

A trial proceeds in the following stages:

  • Jury selection
  • Opening statements
  • Examination and cross-examination of each side’s witnesses
  • Closing arguments
  • Jury instructions
  • Jury deliberations
  • The final verdict

You can reach a settlement at any time before the jury announces its verdict.

Disbursement of Compensation

The defendant or insurance company will send your awarded compensation to your lawyer. Your lawyer will deduct any applicable amounts, such as legal fees and amounts covered by a medical lien. They will then transfer the rest of the money to you.

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Speak To an Austin Personal Injury Lawyer Regarding the Timeline of Your Case

Most personal injury lawyers offer free initial case consultations, and you are under no obligation to hire the lawyer. At an initial consultation, you will likely get a ballpark estimate of your claim’s viability and value. Hopefully, you will then be able to decide whether to pursue it.

Contact our FVF Law offices in Austin, Texas, at (512) 982-9328 to schedule a free, no-hassle consultation to get started today.

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