Steps in a Personal Injury Case
Knowing the process your personal injury claim follows is critical for peace of mind. It is hard enough to experience any type of accident, but to be in the dark about what happens next is adding insult to injury. For this reason, let’s look at what course most legal claims take.
Injury in an Accident
There are many different types of accidents. For instance, you can slip and fall at your local grocery store, be harmed by a defective drug or device or be injured in a traffic accident. The bottom line is that you suffer injuries due to another’s mistake. This mistake is called negligence in a legal case, and it means that the at-fault party intentionally or accidentally caused your injuries. In order to file a claim, the injured party, also called the plaintiff, must prove that the at-fault party (the defendant) was negligent.
Contacting an Attorney
The injured party makes contact with an attorney and goes over their damages in what is called a case review. This consultation allows the attorney to familiarize themself with the accident and gives the injured person the chance to ask questions. If the attorney feels the case is viable, they will do a preliminary investigation looking for evidence to prove liability on the part of the at-fault party. If the result shows that there is a case, the lawyer and the injured party sign and approve a fee agreement.
Filing a Complaint
The attorney files a complaint against the at-fault party in civil court. Following this, the attorney finds and serves the same complaint on the defendant in the case. The server documents that the complaint is given to the defendant. The document also instructs the defendant when they need to appear in court.
Defendant Must Notify Their Insurer
As soon as the defendant receives the complaint they must notify their insurance company. The defendant has the option of hiring their own attorney or allowing an attorney supplied by their insurer to represent them. This attorney is referred to as a defense lawyer.
Fees in a Personal Injury Case
The plaintiff’s attorney in a personal injury lawsuit works on what is called a contingency basis. This means they do not get paid until their client wins their case. Alternately, an outside defense attorney, if hired by the defendant, is paid hourly. If the insurance company supplies the defense attorney, the insurer pays their fee.
As you might imagine, there is a great deal of information provided by both sides in a personal injury case. Legally, both the defendant and the plaintiff have the right to know this information. The information is acquired during a process called discovery. Also, decisions are made as to whether mediation is approved. Depositions are asked for and taken from both the defendant and the plaintiff where they must answer questions under oath. This can occur in the lawyer’s office or online.
Many cases reach an agreement outside of court in a settlement between the parties. In some cases, the settlement even occurs before the complaint is filed. If both sides reach a fair settlement, the case will not proceed to court.
The Court Case
If negotiations are not successful, the next step in the process is taking the case to court. This could take several days or longer, depending on the nature of the case. Once the jury or judge decides on the verdict and compensation, both the plaintiff or the defendant can file an appeal in a different court.
Helping Clients Through the Process of a Personal Injury Claim
Our legal team and staff at the Olinde Law Firm make every effort to help our clients through the personal injury claim process. We keep them abreast of what is happening in their case and are always available to answer their questions. If you are injured due to a negligent person or entity, call us at (504) 587-1440 or 1-800-587-1889 to schedule a free case review or contact us online.