The Timeline of a Personal Injury Case
You may file a claim for compensation when you have been harmed due to car accident, slip-and-fall, medical malpractice, motorcycle accident,, slip-and-fall, medical malpractice, or motorbike accident.
Nothing is nice about paying thousands of dollars in medical expenses and losing earnings after an accident. Why should you be forced to suffer physically and financially because of an accident caused by someone else’s actions or inaction?
The procedure is somewhat intimidating. No one working in assisting accident victims would have you believe otherwise. However, you may make the process less stressful and intimidating by being more knowledgeable about it.
In this post, we’ll lay out the chronology of a personal injury case, from the time of the accident through the time of the trial. These processes may not apply in every personal injury , but knowing what to expect at each stage can help you better prepare for your case moving forward.
- Settlement of Personal Injury Claims
- The occurrence of an accident or injury
- Consult a Lawyer
- Seek Medical Help
- Verifies Insurance claims as well as Medical Records
- Apply for Compensation or Make a Claim
- File a Lawsuit
- Arbitration and/or mediation.
- . Trial
1. There is an accident or an injury.
Injuries and accidents don’t come with a warning. It’s simply not something that people think about as they go about their day-to-day activities. Even though they are aware of the hazards surrounding them, it still comes as a surprise when the time comes.
At the very least, it is a source of frustration and anxiety. It may be life-altering or even fatal if it goes untreated. Regardless of how irritating or inconvenient an accident or injury may be, it is necessary to take a moment to gather your thoughts and plan for the future.
To get compensation for your losses in the future, you must gather evidence and follow the correct processes. You have the right to do so, and you should do so. Everything things you should do after an accident is straightforward.
Obtaining and Analyzing Evidence
slip-and-fall or any other accident form should be documented so that you may file a claim against the responsible party. First, you should contact the local police department.
- Take as many pictures as you can;
- make copies of everything (i.e., identification cards, insurance cards,
- licence plates, etc. );
- collect contact information for any witnesses;
- note any relevant information, such as traffic cameras,
- weather conditions, construction zones, store conditions, conditions on the property, and the people you spoke with.
Everything that might be used to support your case in the future is important. Also, don’t hesitate to get help from a doctor.
Be careful to tell store workers and acquire the names and contact information of witnesses if you experience a slip-and-fall injury accident in a commercial place. A copy of the incident report should be requested. Even if the institution refuses to give you a copy because they say it’s secret, you should nevertheless take notes on what you say in the report.
No official announcement should be made. Taking photos of the harmful chemical or situation that caused your fall might be critical evidence in proving the defendant’s carelessness if that is the case.
2. After a Car Crash, Seek Medical Help.
Medical treatment should be sought quickly after an automobile accident or injury. Even after a stressful event, injuries may not show up straight away. This is especially true when a person is engaged in a serious car accident.
It’s normal to feel a surge of adrenaline and shock just following. When you’re in a hazardous position, this is how your body naturally gets rid of the pain so that you can escape. Because of this physical reaction, individuals with catastrophic injuries can do incredible feats in the heat of war or other traumatic events.
Take photos immediately if you have obvious wounds, such as bruises, cuts, scratches or abrasions. Documenting these sorts of injuries to utilise later in pursuing a personal injury claim is vital since they will heal over time. A medical practitioner should examine you immediately, even if you don’t believe you’ve been wounded.
It’s for two reasons why I’m doing this. At first, you may not be able to tell whether you have an invisible injury. Such as a concussion or whiplash, an EMT may observe these symptoms.
As a second benefit, if you experience discomfort later, you will have documentation that you went to the doctor immediately. When someone refuses care at the outset, insurance companies may try to use this against them as evidence that “they weren’t truly hurt.”
PIP (Personal Injury Protection) or MedPay (Medical Payments Coverage)
The $10,000.00 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage provided under your motor insurance policy might be forfeited if you don’t seek medical attention within the first 14 days after an accident.
If you need to consult a doctor, be sure to be as specific and complete as possible about the injuries and symptoms you’re experiencing. Even if you don’t think a specific symptom or fact is particularly relevant, accurate medical documentation of your injuries is the foundation for proving your claim to the insurance company.
Even if you don’t travel to the hospital in the ambulance that comes, you should still make your way there once you’ve taken care of all the other essentials. In addition, if you still suffer symptoms, you should continue to visit your doctor to get the treatment you need.
The insurance company may utilize gaps in your medical treatment, such as denying you emergency care after an accident, to hurt your claim.
3. As the last step, contact a personal injury lawyer.
This next move may seem premature to some observers. You may want to check what your insurance will cover or get a diagnosis before hiring a lawyer. Because lawyers refuse to embark on matters that do not need their services, this isn’t the case.
So, there’s nothing to be concerned about if you ask for their help. An attorney specializing in the law field in question may secure you a settlement that exceeds what an insurance company would provide you on your own. Using the free consultation as a last resort, you may acquire some much-needed guidance.
People who engage an attorney in a personal injury lawsuit earn 3.5 times as much money from the insurance company as those who settle on their own, according to research conducted by the Insurance Research Council Meeting with an attorney will help you evaluate whether your case has merit and whether or not you should forward with them.
Fees will be discussed after determining whether or not the attorney will take on the case.
Contingency fee agreements are the norm for Colorado’s Personal Injury Lawyers. If a settlement is reached, the attorney earns a part of that money. Pre-litigation attorney fees in Colorado are 33 1/3 per cent up to $1 million. If an answer to a complaint is filed, fees rise to 40 per cent of any recovery up to $1 million, according to Colorado law and the Colorado Bar.
Ask your potential lawyer about the charge, so you know how the price is determined and how the attorney’s fees and expenses are broken down after your case. You should also talk to your lawyer about how long your lawsuit will take.
Before submitting the first demand to the insurance company, inquire about how long the business will take to establish your case. Whether the insurance company’s offer is inadequate to compensate you for your losses, ask if the legal firm would file a lawsuit on your behalf or if it is a “settlement mill” that will not invest the time, effort, and money necessary to fight your case.
4. Inquires into claims and medical records
A lawyer will begin investigating your claim and reviewing your case once you engage them. When you meet with your lawyer, he or she will conduct an extensive interview. If you’ve been injured, they’ll want to know how it occurred and your medical history before and after the occurrence.
There are several areas they’ll need to know about your medical care for your injuries. There will be no shortage of information gleaned from the investigation. An intake expert is often tasked with carrying out this step.
Nothing should be kept a secret from your lawyer.
Some of the questions you’ll be asked may be personal, while others may appear unimportant at first glance. Attorneys must be prepared for everything and do their best to prevent later unpleasant shocks. Notifying your lawyer is important if you’ve ever been hurt.
Tell your lawyer if you have a lot of debt. Clients and lawyers need to be open and honest with each other. For your injury lawyer to properly prepare your case, you must divulge any prior medical history you may have had with another doctor.
Your preexisting or degenerative ailments are often used as a defense in car accident claims. Your attorney must have a comprehensive and detailed awareness of your medical history to counter this argument. By reviewing your medical records, your attorney can create a baseline of your physical status before and during the collision.
Regardless of whether or not you divulge your medical history to an insurance company, they will always be able to find out. At the commencement of your claim, it’s important to provide your lawyer with the opportunity to obtain this information.
Afterwards, the lawyer will gather all your medical documents and invoices related to the accident. Your medical records and bills will include all physicians you’ve seen and what they told you. This, too, will be thoroughly researched and completed. Depending on your therapy, this may take a long time.
It will take some time to complete. To obtain the medical care you need, regardless of your capacity to pay, you need a good attorney to guide you through the legal procedure. Be careful to keep your lawyer up to date on your medical visits by communicating openly and often with him or her throughout the procedure.
If your primary care physician recommends you to a specialist, be sure to inform your lawyer immediately so that he or she may get your medical documents and keep your file current.
5. Claim with your insurance company or make a settlement demand
The vast majority of personal injury claims are resolved outside of the courtroom. Depending on the situation, this may or may not be positive. Some companies take on large numbers of customers to get an early settlement for a modest sum. Many people can gain money by repeating this enough times.
However, a skilled attorney will use the threat of court to their advantage and assess the individual scenario. Choosing a small, skilled company over a big-budget settlement mill may make a huge difference in the outcome of your case.
In Different Cases, the Claims Process is Different
In a car accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will initially receive a claim for damages. Most states need at least some level of automobile insurance coverage. Personal Injury Protection is the legal term for this in Colorado (PIP).
You might expect your lawyer to investigate who was at blame and file a claim with their insurance if the injury did not result from a car accident. This might be the store’s liability insurance provider in the event of a slip-and-falls. The hospital’s liability insurance company may be involved in medical malpractice circumstances.
An insurance claims adjuster will be assigned to examine the matter and negotiate a settlement when a claim is filed with the at-fault party’s insurer. If an insurance company isn’t involved, the opposite party might get a demand letter demanding a settlement. Demand letters give forth your theory of culpability (who is at blame and why), the extent of your medical records’ injuries, and the compensation you request.
What your lawyer will do if you get a counter-offer is to explain the issue and explore your options. After the first offer, your attorney should try to get a better settlement sum than the other side initially offered.
Your Case’s Cost/Benefit Analysis
At this point in the case (before a lawsuit is filed), your attorney should also explain the cost/benefit analysis of accepting a settlement rather than pursuing litigation. After an Answer to a Complaint is filed, the attorney’s fee in a personal injury case under a contingency contract rises to 40%.
When you file a lawsuit, your chances of getting a better net settlement than you would have if you settled out of court are slim.
The facts and circumstances of responsibility, the insurance policy limitations of the at-fault party, and your injuries and medical expenditures all play a role in determining how much compensation you are entitled to. Before accepting a settlement, you should talk to your lawyer about all the benefits and drawbacks of settling the case or pushing further.
6. Filing a Lawsuit for Personal Injury
A lawsuit should be filed if a settlement with the insurance company cannot be reached, which is most likely because they will not pay the full amount due. A personal injury lawsuit in Colorado must be filed within four (4) years after the accident or injury, but the earlier it is brought, the better.
Sometimes, insurance companies only react to lawsuits because they don’t have any other method of dealing with a claim. Once a lawsuit has been brought against them, they may feel additional pressure to seek a more equitable settlement. You may start a legal action on your behalf by filing a Complaint with the Circuit Court in your county of residence.
At the same time, your lawyer will ask the Clerk of Court to issue a Summons. A process server will deliver the summons, complaint, and relevant evidence to the tortfeasor Defendant. As soon as the Defendant is served, the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure specify that the Defendant must respond to the Complaint within 20 days of the day the Complaint was served.
The “litigation” part of your injury claim begins when you file a lawsuit. As a result, instead of discussing your claim directly with an insurance company adjuster, your attorney will be the principal point of contact for the Defendant’s defense counsel.
After a lawsuit is filed, one of the most often asked questions is, “how long will litigation take?” In Colorado, the court system informs us that, ideally, the procedure should take a year and a half from the beginning of a case to the final result.
7. Both Sides Begin Exploration
Each side explores the other’s legal claims and defenses throughout the discovery process. Legal proceedings in Colorado enable each party to request specific written evidence from the opposing side.
With regards to an auto accident case, the Colorado Supreme Court mandates the service of standard interrogatories, which essentially ask for background biographical data (e.g., names and dates of birth as well as previous residences and occupations) as well as information about the incident itself (e.g., describe the incident, were you wearing a seatbelt? (Was the event caused in part by a mechanical failure?)
You will also be asked about the injuries you claim, the medical providers you have visited as a consequence, and the losses you have suffered. Auto accident interrogatories routinely enquire about your medical history over the last decade (10) and whether or not you needed any special medical equipment when you were involved in a collision.
Interrogations are restricted to thirty (30) minutes unless there is good reason, the Court’s sanction, or an emergency. Interrogation questions will be answered with the help of your lawyer.
Appointments and Admissions Requested
Request for Production, a discovery that permits one party to demand physical documents related to a claim and its defenses, may be served on the opposing party.
A “Seek for Admissions” is a discovery tool that allows one side to request that the other admit particular facts (such as the fact that the event occurred on a certain date and place or that the Defendant driver owned the car he/she was driving) to the discovery process.
To reply to a discovery request, a plaintiff will have thirty (30) days from the day the request is made to do so.
Taking depositions is the next phase in the discovery process. A Defendant will often arrange a deposition of Plaintiff after receiving Plaintiff’s answer to the discovery requests indicated above. Your medical records might be subpoenaed before the defense attorney questions you.
During a deposition, you will be required to give sworn testimony in front of a court reporter or stenographer who will record your statements verbatim. Your deposition will be conducted by a defense attorney or a group of defense lawyers, depending on the nature of the case.
The questions you’ll be asked will be similar to those in your interrogatories, but they’ll be more precise and expanded depending on your answers.
Having a lawyer at your side can help you anticipate the kinds of inquiries you may face. For example, an accident reconstructionist, biomechanical engineer, life care planner, or radiologist may be deposed as part of the trial preparation process.
A Team of Experts
An Independent Medical Exam (IME), also known as an Independent Medical Exam, may be ordered by the defendant in a personal injury case filed in Colorado under Colorado Rule of Civil Procedure.
An expert from IME will evaluate your injuries and give an opinion to the Defendant on the cause of your injuries, whether or not they are connected with your car accident or incident, what injuries you sustained, if any, what medical treatment was required and reasonable, and whether or not you suffered permanent injury.
Always remember that a medical professional conducting a Compulsory Medical Exam is not your regular doctor. A doctor-patient connection isn’t formed between you and him/her.
Your medical care is not the responsibility of a CME doctor, and he or she does not treat you in any way. All a CME doctor does is analyze you on behalf of the defendant and, more often than not, offer a conclusion favourable to the organization that engaged him/her for this reason (the Defense). If you are required to undertake a Compulsory Medical Examination, your lawyer will tell you what to anticipate.
8. Arbitration or Mediation in Injury Cases
Both parties’ attorneys often use all or most of the material gleaned via discovery to re-start negotiations. An alternative dispute resolution. (ADR) method is what we’re talking about. Things are a little easier now that you know what you’re up against. The attorneys may be able to resolve a lawsuit just by talking to one other, but this isn’t always the case.
There is a good chance that mediation will take place at this point. Clients and attorneys meet with a mediator authorized by both parties to assist them in negotiating a settlement with which they can live. Before permitting a dispute to go to trial, Colorado courts often require the parties to mediate it.
An amicable settlement is preferable toto having seven jurors (six who will eventually determine the case and one alternative) spend their time hearing the case and deciding on a decision, which is time-consuming.
There is no conflict of interest between the mediator and the parties involved in the dispute. Unlike a court or arbitrator, a mediator does not have the authority to determine who is at blame or how much money should be awarded to the plaintiff.
Instead, the mediator’s job is to make it easier for the parties involved in the conflict to reach an agreement.
The parties, their attorneys, and the mediator are often in a conference room at the start of the mediation. A representative from Defendant’s insurance company is usually present, and he or she can give you a settlement figure.
Each side’s attorney makes an opening statement on behalf of the client to begin the mediation. It is important to provide an opening statement to the mediator to give an overview of your case, including the parties’ respective theories of culpability, harm, and losses.
In mediation, the parties are prohibited from discussing the mediation process with anybody outside of the mediation process, and no information concerning the mediation process will ever be heard at a trial.
Through the Defense attorney’s opening statement, Mediation allows Plaintiffs to learn about the other side’s arguments and how believable they may be.
After the parties have finished their opening statements, the mediator acts as a conduit for negotiations by going back and forth between the two rooms (or more if there are multiple defendants) until either a settlement is reached or the parties determine the case will not settle and reach an impasse.
Arbitration is the name given to the second alternative dispute settlement method. A hearing between the plaintiff and the defendant will occur in arbitration, and a neutral third party will assess the proceedings. Mediation is non-binding, while arbitration is. Therefore, the distinction is clear.
The arbitrator’s judgement is final when it comes to the settlement. One way to think about this procedure is as if it were a mini-court case.
The arbitration may be required instead of going to court by a judge in certain cases. This might happen if the judge believes a fair settlement is within reach. It may be possible to settle out of court to save both parties money.
9. Trial for Personal Injury
Finally, if none of those mentioned above methods yields a settlement, the matter will be sent to trial. Hours to months might be spent in personal injury trials.
There will be a trial when all of the material obtained via discovery (physical evidence, interrogatories and depositions) will be submitted to a jury to decide on the settlement amount.
In a trial, there is no way to anticipate the conclusion with any degree of precision since the jury consists of six people from various walks of life, and they are the ones who finally determine the decision.
Your attorney may organize a focus group, or mock trial, to better understand what a jury may perceive as some of the main aspects or flaws in the case to better address those areas at trial.
Personal injury cases should be extensively discussed with you by your attorney before going to trial so that you are aware of the risks and rewards involved.
Visit our Legal Glossary for further information on the terminology you’ve come across on this page.
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It’s only just that you seek restitution for the harm you’ve suffered due to someone else’s carelessness. Families shouldn’t be forced to shoulder the financial weight of another’s actions. In reality, you are entitled to compensation.
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