If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident and find yourself in a position where you need to make a personal injury claim it makes sense to try and understand how the claims process works and what to expect at each stage.
Here is an overview of the different phases that you will usually go through with a personal injury lawsuit, which should help you to be prepared for what lies ahead in your efforts to get the financial help you need to get your life back on track.
Getting help with your case
The first phase is probably the most critical as it is arranging a meeting with your lawyer to discuss the case in greater detail.
You will obviously want to have chosen a professional who has the knowledge and experience of handling personal injury claims and the purpose of the first meeting is to establish the facts and confirm you have a valid claim.
Your lawyer will use this information to determine which laws apply to the circumstances of the injury you sustained.
Filing the claim
Once your lawyer and you have agreed to pursue a claim the next stage is to file a lawsuit and get the process underway.
There will most likely be an exchange of documents at this point so it’s a good idea to prepare for this and have what your lawyer needs from you ready to hand over.
Establishing the facts
Your lawyer should guide you through the various phases and they will no doubt tell you that what comes next is the discovery and fact-finding part of the claim process.
As the description implies, this is where both sides gather and exchange information from each other, although some details may be “privileged”, which means it is not disclosed.
Filing of preliminary motions
Both parties have an opportunity to file preliminary motions at this stage of proceedings, before the formal part of the claim gets underway and it goes to court.
The main purpose of these motions is to establish a set of protocols and rules that will apply to the case.
It is also the point where some claims might come to an end before they even get to court.
Seeking a settlement
It is also possible that your claim might be resolved through a series of settlement offers and negotiations through your lawyer.
The offer might be deemed acceptable and a settlement agreed or it could be that negotiations don’t go anywhere and it has to go to court to resolve the claim in front of a judge.
Testimonies and evidence
Having failed to reach an agreement the next step is to go to trial, which is the point where you will produce physical evidence and oral testimonies to support the claim.
There will be opening and closing arguments presented during the trial.
Time for the jury to reach their verdict
Once everything has been heard and presented to the court it is time for the jury to deliberate and the judge to issue their judgment.
It is hoped that this is the point where you are awarded a specific sum of money in the form of a damages award.
This is the point where the judge makes a final judgment and declares that the case has ended.
If you are not happy with the outcome or the other side want to try and dispute the result, there is an opportunity to file an appeal and seek a further hearing.
It can take time to get your case heard and to obtain a satisfactory outcome so you have to be prepared for these different phases and it helps if you understand what is coming next and what your lawyer in their efforts to get you compensation.