Many people do not know what to expect when it comes to the timeline for filing a personal injury claim. If you have severe injuries due to the other party’s negligence, you may need compensation sooner, rather than later. After all, you have bills to pay and expenses to manage, especially when it comes to the medical bills associated with your accident. Unfortunately, a personal injury claim often takes longer than some people expect.
Just what does the timeline look like for a personal injury claim? Each claim may look a little different. For example, the timeline for a car accident claim may look different from the timeline for a slip and fall accident claim; and if you have severe injuries, it can take longer to fully evaluate your case and what led to your accident. However, regardless of how your accident occurred, you can expect the same general stages.
1. Medical Treatment
Medical treatment should always be your top priority after an accident, regardless of how that accident occurred or who may have contributed to it. Not only can prompt, comprehensive medical treatment make all the difference in your eventual recovery, it may impact your ability to recover reasonable compensation after your accident.
2. Hire an Attorney
Before you start dealing with the insurance company after your accident, you need to choose a personal injury attorney who can advocate on your behalf. An attorney can help you get a better idea of your rights and ensure that you have the right evidence to put together a comprehensive injury claim that fully reflects your losses.
During the investigation stage, your attorney and the other party’s insurance company will look into all the details of the accident and everything associated with it. That may mean:
- Reviewing any video footage
- Looking at the scene of the accident
- Checking out photos from the accident scene
- Reviewing your medical records
- Talking to witnesses
- Bringing in experts who can testify about the severity of your injuries or how the accident occurred
A comprehensive investigation into exactly what caused your accident can make a huge difference in your ability to present the evidence the insurance needs to establish liability. Keep in mind that the insurance company will also want to fully review all medical records related to your accident so that they can provide compensation for the damages you sustained.
4. File a Claim
Your lawyer will put together a claim based on the evidence collected, the extent of your injuries, and any other details related to your accident. The insurance company will look over that information and determine whether it fits its impression of what took place during the accident, including the damages you sustained. Your claim will lay out all the damages you sustained and what compensation you expect for those damages. The insurance company, on the other hand, will generally try to minimize the compensation you can recover as much as possible.
During the discovery period, both sides will share what information they have uncovered during the investigation. That may mean sending evidence back and forth as each side tries to clearly establish its position. While your lawyer will try to clearly establish that the other party bears liability for the accident and that, therefore, you deserve compensation for your injuries from that party, the insurance company and its legal team may try to establish that the liable party did not cause your accident, that you bear partial or full liability for the accident, or that you did not sustain the injuries you claim in the accident.
Through the negotiation period, you will work to clearly establish what compensation you may deserve for your injuries. Your lawyer will fight on your behalf to maximize that compensation. At the same time, the insurance company may provide settlement offers that fail to fully reflect your needs and the damages you sustained in the accident. You can expect to go through several rounds of negotiation before arriving at a settlement that works for both you and the liable party’s insurance company.
If you can successfully reach an agreement through negotiation, it may end the claim process, and the insurance company will issue a settlement check in the amount determined by the negotiation.
Sometimes, your lawyer and the insurance company will not reach a settlement agreement through mediation. Mediation offers a last chance for you to reach a possible settlement agreement before you have to go to court over your claim. During mediation, both sides will sit down with a mediator. They will lay out their position, including any evidence and relevant insurance policies, and the mediator will attempt to help you reach a resolution. If you accept the offer provided through mediation, the claim process may end there.
When you cannot reach an agreement through mediation or negotiation, you will have to go to trial in order to settle your claim. Most claims do settle out of court; however, in some cases, you may need the court to make a decision about your case. During a trial, both chances will lay out their cases for the court. The court will review that information, then issue a determination about who bears liability for the incident and what compensation you deserve, if relevant. Having a lawyer on your side during the trial process can make it much easier to present that essential information, including the full damages you suffered and the compensation you expect.
9. Settlement/Court Award
Once you accept a settlement agreement or the court awards you compensation for your injuries, the claim process can end. Your lawyer will receive a settlement check and distribute the funds as needed. After paying legal fees and taking care of any liens on the funds, including liens issued by medical professionals who may have treated you while waiting for those much-needed funds, you will receive the funds left from that settlement, which you can use to cover your expenses.
Do you need a lawyer to help guide you through the personal injury process? At Cambre & Associates, we can offer legal advice and support at each stage of the claim. Contact us today to learn more.