Timeline of a Personal Injury Case
Dealing with an injury after an accident is stressful. Somewhere between managing your normal routine and getting treatment for your recovery, you also have to fit in handling the legal aspects. If you’re in this situation, becoming familiar with the timeline of a personal injury case will make you feel prepared for each step of the process.Injury Occurs
In most cases, a two-year clock starts ticking the day an injury happens. That’s how long you have to file a personal injury claim in Arizona.
There are some exceptions that can make that timeframe longer or shorter. For example, with minors involved in accidents, the two-year period begins when they turn 18 years old. Further, if you plan to file a claim against a public entity like a school or public transportation provider, you have to do so within 180 days of the inciting incident.Medical Treatment
It’s important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Not only will this help to prevent your injuries from worsening, it will establish the fact that the injuries resulted from the accident in question rather than an earlier or later occurrence.Choosing a Lawyer
Few people choose to proceed without a lawyer, though it is technically an option. With that said, an experienced personal injury lawyer will know how to challenge insurance companies that try to get you to settle for less than you deserve.
A conversation with a personal injury lawyer will help you decide how to move forward, and can cost you nothing but your time. Most law firms offer free initial consultations to give you a clear idea of their process and to let you know where you stand. With most accident lawyers, there are no upfront costs. The majority of personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis, meaning you don’t owe anything unless your case is successful.Investigation of your Claim
Your lawyer will want to know all of the information you have available. No detail is too small to mention. Therefore, it’s helpful to talk to a lawyer as soon as you can while the events of the accident are fresh in your mind. This way you’ll be able to answer all of your lawyer’s questions as accurately and thoroughly as possible. Your lawyer will also evaluate your medical records, police report, and any other relevant documentation.Reviewing your Medical Records
Your lawyer will use your medical records and bills to demonstrate the extent of your injuries. If you experienced any medical problems prior to your accident, it’s important to share that information with your lawyer as well since your lawyer will prove that your injuries stemmed from the accident in question.Negotiating with Other Parties
It’s estimated that about 90% of personal injury cases are settled through negotiations. When lawyers believe that a case can be settled, they will draw up a demand letter and send it to the attorney of the defendant’s insurance company. This is generally the start of the negotiation process.
The attorney will usually not make this demand until you’ve achieved maximum medical improvement, or MMI. MMI means that your medical provider has determined that you’ve reached the highest level of recovery possible. Until this point, your lawyer will not know how much your case is worth.Filing a Lawsuit
When settlement talks fail, you and your lawyer may choose to file a lawsuit. After a lawsuit is filed, the defendant must be served with the complaint. The defendant will then need to file an answer to said complaint.The Discovery Process
Once a lawsuit is filed, the discovery phase of the case begins. Discovery entails finding out each side’s case and their defenses. Both sides will issue interrogatories, questions that the other side has to answer.
Both sides will also request documents and take depositions of all relevant parties. This is a verbal question-and-answer session where all parties respond under oath and the transcript is recorded. Generally, as the plaintiff, you, along with the defendant, will be the first parties to be questioned. This phase can take six months to a year depending on the complexity of the case and the court’s deadline.Continuing to Negotiate
As the discovery process moves forward the attorneys may still try to negotiate and settle the case. If the parties cannot agree to a settlement, then they may try mediation. Mediation involves a neutral third-party attorney who will try and bring the parties to a common ground.
Mediation is not a binding process, unless the parties agree to it. If after mediation, the two sides are not in agreement, then the case can continue to move forward to trial.The Trial
A personal injury trial can last days, a week, or much longer. Trials are scheduled for a particular date, but sometimes the date can change because of the court’s calendar.
Once a trial begins, a jury will be selected. First, your side will present evidence. Then, the defendant will have a chance to do the same. Witnesses from your side as well as the defendant’s side can be cross-examined by opposing counsel. After this, both sides will present closing arguments.
The jury will meet privately in another room and discuss the case amongst themselves. In personal injury cases, this typically doesn’t last beyond a day, but can sometimes go on for many days. Once the jury has reached a verdict, the judge will bring them back into the court and the verdict will be read and made a part of the record.Contact the Experienced Attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C.
If you’re healing from an injury caused by another person and are considering filing a personal injury lawsuit, contact the dedicated Arizona personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Our team has experience advocating on behalf of our clients so they can focus on healing. Contact our office today at 602-819-5191 for a free, no-obligation consultation with an attorney at our firm.