A Law Career

6 Major Steps Of A Personal Injury Case

by Ruby Mckinney

In your quest for compensation from your auto accident injuries, you should be prepared to experience a somewhat lengthy process. While you can expect some compensation from the at-fault driver's insurance company, this amount will fall short of providing pain and suffering damages. To move beyond your medical expenses and loss of personal property (such as your vehicle), you will likely need to file a personal injury claim and pursue the matter in court. With the help of a personal injury attorney, you may be entitled to be reimbursed for your lost wages and pain and suffering, in addition to the property and medical expense compensation. Read on for the 6 major steps of a personal injury case.

1. Meeting with Your Attorney

Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means that they don't get paid unless you win your case. While this presents many people with an opportunity to take advantage of a legal professional, it also means that the attorney must be able to predict a positive outcome for your case before they agree to work for you. You can help both you and your attorney to get quickly up to speed by providing your attorney with some important paperwork at the initial meeting, such as the police report, insurance information for both you and the other driver, and a summary of your medical expenses.

2. Suit is Filed

Once your attorney has all the information needed, a suit will be filed in court and the opposing side will be provided with a copy of the document. The suit will enumerate several important aspects of the case, including who is at fault, the reasoning behind the allegations of fault, and the dollar amount of compensation being demanded.

3. Discovery and the Deposition

This legal meeting and process of interviewing major players in the case could be considered a mini-trial, since testimony from you and others is taken and recorded for later use in the actual trial, should it come to that. The upside of a deposition is the distinct possibility that once the other side views the evidence, they may offer you a settlement before the case comes to trial.

4. Motions

You can expect most personal injury cases to be interrupted by the attorneys for both sides filing various motions, which are just documents that request the judge makes certain rulings.

  • Motion to Dismiss: This normally takes place near the beginning of the trial and asks that the judge refuse to even the preside over the case due to lack of merit or for other reasons. Don't be alarmed by this routine request. It should be noted that this motion often contains the crux of the other side's case against you.
  • Motion for Summary Judgment: Filed by your attorney, this motion seeks a peremptory ruling based on the evidence so far in the case. If granted, your courtroom days could be shortened considerably.

5. Settlement Offers

Offers to settle the case without a court ruling can come at any time, and it's interesting to note a large percentage, some 95%, of all personal injury cases are settled before a single day in court occurs.

6. Collection

Once both sides have rested and a verdict has been rendered, the final step of collection arrives. Assuming your case was successful, a check could arrive after a few week's time. If the other side appeals, however, you will be facing more courtroom time.

Discuss the personal injury process more in depth with an attorney from a company like Putnam Lieb.