The Personal Injury Process: What to Expect

Unless you have been a party to a personal injury lawsuit, it is difficult to know what to expect when you have been involved in an accident/incident. My next two entries will briefly explain the personal injury and litigation process.

Screening

Your first contact with a lawyer's office will likely be via telephone. You will be asked to provide information about yourself and particulars of the incident in question. Some of the information requested of you may include:

  • Name, address and phone number;
  • Type of incident: motor vehicle accident, slip and fall, trip and fall, product liability, medical malpractice, etc.;
  • When, where and how the incident occurred;
  • The physical and psychological injuries sustained as a result of the incident;
  • Pre-existing injuries that may have contributed to or exacerbated your current injuries;
  • Economic losses: present and future; and
  • Whether you have consulted another lawyer.

This information will then be relayed to a lawyer who will make a determination as to whether or not to take on your case.

Initial Meeting

If the lawyer decides to take on your case, you will be asked to come in for a meeting. You will once again be asked to provide information about yourself and particulars of the incident. Any questions or concerns you may have can also be addressed at this time. A retainer agreement and standard authorization forms will be signed. Authorization forms allow your lawyer to access pertinent information to pursue your claim such as: medical and hospital records and the Motor Vehicle Accident Report ("MVA-Report").

Investigation

Once retained, your personal injury lawyer will take the necessary steps to start the claims process and gather evidence. Depending on the facts of the case, this can include:

  • Advising the defendant(s) of your claim for the purposes of setting the date from which pre-judgment interest will be calculated and getting them to contact their insurance company;
  • Requesting the MVA-Report from the relevant police department;
  • Obtaining your medical and hospital records;
  • Gathering and preserving physical evidence;
  • Obtaining photographic evidence;
  • Interviewing witnesses; and
  • Hiring experts.

Settlement Negotiations with Insurance Company

In the settlement negotiation process, your lawyer will communicate with the defendant's insurance company to determine whether a just and reasonable settlement can be reached without starting the litigation process. Your lawyer will put together evidence about the accident/incident, documents regarding your damages and any expert reports from physicians, economists and others. This information will be evaluated and a settlement proposal or demand will be sent to the insurer. The settlement proposal sets forth the facts of the case, explains the defendant's liability, provides evidence of your injuries and damages, and offers an amount to settle the case.

Negotiation will continue back and forth until either a settlement is obtained or an impasse is reached. If an impasse is reached, the litigation process begins.

For more information, feel free to contact one of our personal injury lawyers.

The information you obtain at this site (including this blog) is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult a lawyer for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create a lawyer-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as a lawyer-client relationship has been established.

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