Personal Injury Case Stages: From Accident to Compensation
Have you or a loved one been injured due to someone else’s negligence, and you’re considering taking legal action to seek financial compensation? If so, you might be interested in knowing more about what goes into a personal injury case and what to expect.
This post aims at providing you with a roadmap of a typical personal injury case in Maryland. While most personal injury claims are often as a result of a car-related accident, sometimes it could be a simple slip and fall accident. But whichever way the accident happened, a personal injury case follows the format outlined below. Keep in mind that some cases might deviate a little from this outline based on their peculiar circumstances.
Meeting With Your Attorney
Obviously, most people will not immediately start thinking of filing a personal injury claim right after an accident occurs; in fact, many of our previous clients didn’t even know what that kind of claim was called until they reached out to us. Their initial concerns often go something along the lines of, “Isn’t there some form of compensation when I get hurt by someone else’s carelessness?”
Nevertheless, it is important for you to consult with a Maryland personal injury attorney who has both experience and a high rate of success. This is the first step in any personal injury case, as meeting with an attorney will help determine whether or not your case is strong enough to file a personal injury lawsuit. Typically, we will review all the facts of the case, the cause of the accident, and any police reports and medical records. If the case is strong enough, a retainer will be signed on a contingency basis—meaning that we will take your case but only get paid if you receive compensation.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
After consulting with your personal injury attorney and determining that your case is strong enough, the next step is to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. Documents involved in the lawsuit will include complaints, answers and motions. Once filed at the appropriate Maryland court, the at-fault party will be served a “Notice” informing them of the lawsuit against them.
Once we have filed a lawsuit, we will begin dealing with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You must not talk to the at-fault driver’s insurance company under any circumstances after you’ve retained the services of a personal injury attorney. We will then move onto the next phase of your case—discovery and fact-finding.
Discovery and Fact Finding
This step goes beyond obtaining your personal records such as medical bills and records, police reports, etc.; in fact, it is more about gathering enough evidence to make an already solid case even more fool-proof. A lot goes into the discovery and fact-finding phase.
First, depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident, we may need to hire a private investigator. This is especially necessary if the issue of liability is being questioned by the at-fault party’s representatives. The investigator will look into the facts surrounding the accident, gather evidence such as photographss of skid marks, damages to the car and injuries sustained, and finally, speak to eyewitnesses and get a recorded statement from each of them. In this way, we can also get in touch with your insurance company and process your personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. This insurance is a part of your auto insurance policy, and it can cover some of the medical bills resulting from your accident.
Your Recovery Period
Depending on the severity of the accident that occurred, your recovery period might be anything from a few weeks to a few months. In some extreme cases, it can take up to a year before the victim could reach maximum medical improvement.
In any case, we cannot do much until you have reached full recovery so that we can know the extent of the damage that has been done, and how much to settle for. Following your doctor’s orders is crucial during this time because the insurance company’s attorneys will look for any loophole to exploit just to make your claim look weak. This is why it is important to follow your doctor’s orders, notify us if of any major changes in your medical condition such as a scheduled surgery, and to return to work when you have been cleared by your doctor to do so.
Once you have finished recovering from your injuries, we can move forward with your case. The reason we need to wait for you to make a total recovery is because the value of your personal injury case is based on your damages. There is no way can know your damages until you are have been released from the hospital. After that, we can move forward with the next steps in the case.
Once the doctor has confirmed that you have reached maximum medical improvement, the first thing we will do is to order all of your medical records and bills. Then we will also document all your lost wages from the moment you got injured until your doctor cleared you to go back to work; depending on the hospital, it may take anywhere between 30 to 60 days to receive the medical records and/or bills, but nevertheless, once it has been received, we can proceed to the next phase.
Prepare and Send Out a Demand Letter
Once we have all the information and evidence we need, we will put together an injury demand letter, which is the main focus of the negotiations process. We use this letter to propose a strong point to the insurance company of the negligent driver. We will include everything relating to your damages including medical records, your medical bills, your property damages, lost wages, and any out-of-pocket expenses. After sending out the demand letter, we will then wait for the insurance company to respond, which is usually done within a reasonable period of time.
Negotiations and Settlements or Move to Trial
In many personal injury cases, a settlement is reached before the case goes to trial. If the defendant’s insurance company is being reasonable and offers compensation that is acceptable to you, then we will accept the offer and avoid bringing the case to trial. We will discuss all possible options and negotiate until you are satisfied with the final proposed compensation.
However, if the defendant is not being reasonable or no agreement can be reached, then we will have no other choice than to move this case to trial. By proceeding with litigation, a formal trial will begin and we will begin to use all the information the investigator gathered. We will present all physical evidence, call eyewitnesses and expert witnesses, and present our case before a jury. Most Maryland personal injury cases that go to trial always end in favor of the victim, but every case is different, so we encourage you to contact us today to discuss the details of your case for free.
The steps outlined above make up a basic overview of most personal injury cases across the state of Maryland. While the details are more complex and this article might seem like an over-simplification, it is meant to serve as an overview of what goes into a personal injury case. Since your case will likely be taken on a contingency basis, it helps to give you an understanding into the intricacies necessary to help you secure a very high compensation from the negligent driver’s attorneys.
The attorneys at Otway Russo are ready to take on your personal injury case. All you have to do is reach out to us via our contact us page and schedule a free consultation, where we can discuss your options and see if your case is strong enough to go to trial. We are always here to help.