Filing a personal injury case can be a complicated and time-consuming process. What are the steps in a personal injury case?
Scene of the Accident
Your first step is to deal with the scene of the accident. If your health and well-being permit, take photos of the accident scene and exchange contact information. It’s also important to seek medical attention, even if you do not believe you are seriously injured or injured at all.
Sometimes, injuries aren’t obvious until a few hours or days after an accident. A doctor knows the signs to look for and might diagnose an injury even if you don’t feel any pain or discomfort.
Keep in mind, failing to seek medical treatment within 14 days of the accident prevents you from collecting the $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) benefits available through your car insurance policy.
In addition to the photos you took of the scene of the collision, it’s also a good idea to photograph your injuries. This includes:
- Broken bones
Contact an Attorney
The smartest thing you can do after you’ve been involved in a vehicle accident is to contact an experienced personal injury attorney. They’ll help you through the remaining steps of the process and ensure that your rights are protected.
Once you’ve found an attorney, they’ll investigate your case. They’ll interview you regarding the events of the accident and your injuries. They’ll speak to any witnesses, gather police reports, and interview any witnesses.
Working with your attorney on building your strongest case is your most important role as an accident victim. The best thing you can do to strengthen your case is to provide detailed and honest information about your circumstances.
File an Insurance Claim
Your attorney will help you file your insurance claim. Your claim includes a variety of details about the incident and your injuries, as well as information about your short- and long-term medical care.
Negotiate a Settlement
Negotiations begin after you file your claim.
Most of the time, the insurance company will provide you with an initial offer. This is rarely the best offer available and serves as the starting point for negotiations. Your attorney will review the initial offer and determine how to proceed.
Most accident claims are settled outside of court. If your attorney thinks this is a possibility, they’ll draft a demand letter summarizing your claim and requesting the compensation amount that you seek.
File a Lawsuit
If negotiations are unsuccessful, the next step is to file a lawsuit. This means that the court system will become involved in your claim. There will be a discovery process. This is when both sides exchange information and you and your attorney will work on building your strongest case.
This phase is when the work you did early on – seeking medical attention, taking photos of the accident scene, gathering evidence from witnesses – is most important. Sometimes the case settles during this phase based on the evidence produced by either side.
However, if your case goes to trial, your attorney will present your evidence in a courtroom to a judge and jury. They’ll reach a verdict and determine your compensation.
If you’d like to speak to someone about the process of filing a personal injury case or you have questions about your situation, we can help. Contact Shugarman & Mehring at 410.783.4200 or toll-free at 888.342.7200.