If you are the victim of another person's negligence, you may be contemplating hiring a personal injury lawyer and filing suit against the at-fault party. The road to personal injury compensation can be long, confusing, and stressful, but knowing what to expect can help ease your mind and allow you to concentrate on healing from your injuries. Most personal injury trials follow the same step-by-step procedure, so read on for the eight parts of personal injury success.
1. Initial meeting with your attorney: In your first meeting your new attorney will interview you about your case and everything that has happened so far. Be prepared with a narrative, or summary, of the accident and bring with you any accident reports and medical records. If the attorney agrees to represent you, you will sign a contract spelling out how the attorney will be compensated (most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis).
2. Filing suit: The official legal document, sometimes called a petition, is filed with the court. This suit serves as notification to the opposing party of your complaint, why the other party is at fault, your damages, and how you want to be compensated.
3. Discovery: This is a formal hearing where witnesses are deposed, or questioned, under oath. This important step in the process sometimes triggers a settlement offer once the opposing party learns about the evidence and evaluates the odds of winning at trial.
- Motion to Dismiss: used by the defendants (the opposing party) alleging that the other party's suit has no merit. Often a routine filing that serves as summary of the opposing side's evaluation of the weaknesses of the case.
- Summary Judgment: Similar to the Motion to Dismiss, but this time used by the plaintiffs to ask the judge to rule on the case on the merits of the trial so far.
5. Settlement: While a great percentage (some 95%) of personal injury cases are settled before the trial even begins, a settlement offer could occur at any time once the trial has begun.
6. Trial: A judge, and sometimes a jury, will listen to opening statements, witness testimony, and closing statements before handing down the verdict.
7. Collection of judgment: Once you have prevailed and proven your case before the judge, you may collect your compensation from the losing side. Most insurance companies will issue you a check within a few weeks, unless they file an appeal.
8. Appeals: If the case is appealed, it is pushed to a higher court, which will review the case to see if the letter of the law was followed.
Knowing about the eight steps above can help reduce some confusion and anxiety about the personal injury process. Consult with a attorney, such as one from Knochel Law Offices, P.C., for more information about how to get fairly compensated for your personal injury case.