Timelines Of A Personal Injury Case
Timelines Of A Personal Injury Case
Some personal injury cases can take a very long time, and it’s important that you recognize that your attorney is doing everything he or she can to expedite the matter. The time between filing a personal injury lawsuit and getting a settlement or judgment varies as widely as the cases themselves. Most insurance companies know that the injured parties want to settle the matter as quickly as possible, and they know that getting you to settle quickly can sometimes lead to you settling for less money. With that said, here’s a sample timeline of a personal injury case.
The first thing that is likely to happen is a process called “discovery.” In this process, an insurance company will try to find out as much about you, your life, and the accident as possible. You will be asked, under oath, to write answers to questions the lawyers send you. You will be required to make documents and medical information available. You may also be required to either admit or deny statements sent to you. During this time, you need to gather all your medical bills, medical records, and any other useful documents and provide them to your attorney. Your attorney can advise you on any rules on specific document types; some documents must be procured in a very specific way, or they won’t be able to be admitted in court.
Next – or possibly concurrent with discovery – are depositions. Again, you’ll be placed under oath, and the insurance company’s attorney(s) will be allowed to question you in a detailed fashion about the accident, your injuries, your prior medical history, and any care you received after the accident.
If applicable, motion hearing may be filed next. Insurance companies seemingly have an inexhaustible supply of motions to file and hearings to go to on those motions. Some are very important to your case; others are not. Only your attorney can advise you on the motions filed in your case and what should be done about them.
Some courts require that both parties attend some sort of pre-trial mediation or arbitration, and you may not even get a date for your trial until this step is completed. In mediation, a neutral third-party called a mediator will help you and the other party come to a resolution. The agreements reached in mediation often aren’t binding until a settlement agreement reached in mediation is reached, written, and signed. Arbitration differs from mediation insofar as it resembles a trial in some facets. The case is heard – like in a trial – before an arbitrator or judge. Though the process is considered informal, it can be a bit more intimidating than mediation.
If you can’t settle in arbitration or mediation, the case will go to trial. The court will schedule your trial after you’ve completed all the necessary requirements needed by the court. In the trial, a jury of six to twelve people will decide how much your injuries are worth. It can take months or even years before your trial is scheduled. Once your trial is completed, your case won’t, necessarily, be resolved, as there may be more motions filed or more hearings to attend.
And then comes collecting on a potential judgment. Some people have problems collecting from individuals or insurance companies. Before you’ll see a penny, you’ll have to sign a document of release and file a kind of motion for dismissal. The attorney representing the insurance company will have to get the company to issue the money. Each of these things can delay a check getting to you. The check, once it is issued, will be sent to your attorney, who must process the check through a trust account, and, if the check is coming from another state, there can be another wait for up to two weeks. Your attorney will deduct expenses from the trust account. These expenses can include fees from depositions, filings, process service, getting records and documents, transcripts, documentation, costs of witnesses, subpoenas, and other fees.
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