If you have been injured due to the negligence of another, you may be considering contacting a personal injury attorney to recover losses sustained as a result. It is likely that questions will arise in regards to the process and duration of a personal injury case. While each case is unique, it is essential to understand the general course of such a case before deciding to pursue one of your own.
Seek Medical Treatment
Medical treatment should be sought immediately, whether or not the victim is experiencing pain. It is not uncommon for the heightened stress of a traumatic situation to diminish pain.
In the event that pain and discomfort are not experienced immediately, a visit to the doctor or hospital should still be made. In some instances, a second opinion may also be a suitable option. Furthermore, the insurance company may question the validity of an injury if medical treatment was originally denied.
Consult a Personal Injury Attorney
When it comes to personal injury, not all attorneys have the same experience. Some attorneys specialize in accidents, while others have expertise in medical malpractice. For those who have suffered a significant injury or other losses, hiring an experienced personal injury attorney will constitute the most valuable asset to recovering loses.
A study conducted by the Insurance Research Council found that individuals who hired an attorney for their personal injury case received a settlement 3.5 times greater than those who chose to settle with the insurance adjuster independently. Many are concerned with the costs associated with hiring a Florida Personal Injury Attorney; however, the majority work off of a contingency fee contract— meaning that the attorney will not receive compensation unless a settlement is won.
Investigation of Claim and Records
An attorney will begin by conducting an extensive interview to collect information related to the case. This interview will be comprised of meticulous details involving the accident and all other information pertaining to it. Pictures of vehicles involved, witness identification, and vehicle computer data must be collected quickly or it could be permanently lost.
Next, the attorney will start the arduous process of compiling copies of medical records and bills, which could take months. Once the process of gathering information has been completed, the attorney will begin the task of reviewing the documents.
Following an in-depth review, the attorney will determine whether or not the case is suitable for attorney involvement and will suggest alternative next steps if necessary.
Demand and Negotiation
The vast majority of personal injury claims will be settled outside of court, with no need for a lawsuit to be filed by an attorney. An experienced attorney will be able to determine whether the case can be settled. If this is believed to be the case, then they will contact the defendant’s attorney to discuss a settlement.
However, this cannot occur until all medical treatment has ended. Upon completion of medical treatment, the attorney will be able to determine the amount they believe the case to be worth. The exception to this circumstance is when the plaintiff requires the money from the suit to continue treatment.
In the event that permanent injury or impairment has been sustained, a personal injury attorney will file a lawsuit immediately, as it is likely for medical treatment to be required for the remainder of the individual’s natural life.
Filing a Lawsuit
When a settlement is unable to be reached, or the case is substantial, an attorney will file a lawsuit. The act of filing a lawsuit does not guarantee that the case will make it to trial. Some insurance companies will reconsider settling when faced with the prospect of going to court, due to the associated costs.
Once a lawsuit is filed, the litigation process should take no more than 18 months to reach a final resolution.
At this time, both parties will have the opportunity to investigate the other party’s legal claims and defenses. Attorneys will send interrogatories and document requests to each other, as well as take depositions of all witnesses in the case. An attorney might choose to make what is known as a Request for Admission, in which the requesting party asks the opposing party to acknowledge specific facts in the case.
In the State of Florida, a defendant in a personal injury case is permitted to hire a physician of their choosing to perform a Compulsory Medical Exam. The doctor will access injuries and provide a detailed report for the defense. This will typically take anywhere from six months to a year and is highly dependent on its complexities.
Mediation and Arbitration
Upon completion of the discovery period, the attorneys on both sides will generally try to settle once more. In some cases, attorneys are able to settle a lawsuit by discussing the case amongst themselves and reaching what is known as an alternative dispute resolution. In other cases, attorneys will require formal mediation or arbitration.
Mediation requires both sides and their attorneys to meet with an approved mediator to help them reach an agreeable settlement. In Florida, courts will typically mandate that a case goes to mediation before going to trial.
During arbitration, a hearing will be held between the plaintiff and the defendant and will be judged by a neutral third-party. While mediation is not binding, arbitration is. Decisions made by the arbitrator are final.
Personal Injury Trial
Mediation will often work in many personal injury cases. However, if a settlement cannot be reached between both parties, the case will go to trial. The duration of a personal injury trial depends on many factors and can vary from a day to several weeks. During the trial, all of the information collected will be presented to a jury to decide the fate of the case.
If you have been injured due to the negligence of another individual, you should seek financial compensation for your injuries. At Graham Legal, we are committed to helping our clients reach their desired outcome. Each personal injury case we represent is handled by our experienced team of attorneys, who will work diligently on your behalf. Contact our office today to schedule a free personal injury consultation.