For the victim of a careless driver, it can seem difficult to imagine that your life will once again be normal. You are likely dealing with physical injuries, financial issues from missing work and many forms of emotional damage. When dealing with the effects of a car accident, it may help to know what is in store for you during the personal injury process, so read on for a simple primer on how it could work.
1. Speak to an attorney: In most cases, you have nothing to lose by discussing your case with an attorney and most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you need no upfront money to get your case started. You can help your attorney get a head start on your case by bringing needed documentation with you to your first appointment, such as the accident report, your medical records, a list of expenses so far and your insurance information.
2. Give the other side an opportunity to settle out of court: You must let the other side know what you expect to get in compensation, and the demand letter lets you do just that. This letter summarizes your case by listing the evidence, your damages and the dollar amount you will accept to settle the case right now, before it goes to court.
3. File a lawsuit: If your demands are not met, it may be time to file suit. The other side will receive a copy of the lawsuit and you will likely be assigned a court date. Keep in mind that a settlement offer could still occur at any time, even once the trial has started.
4. Both parties discover the basic facts: The discovery process takes place prior to your first day in court, and involves the sharing of information and evidence with the other side. One important aspect of discovery is the deposition, which is a meeting where all pertinent parties are questioned under oath.
5. Your day in court finally arrives: While this in an exciting point in your journey towards compensation, you should know ahead of time that court can be exhausting and time consuming. What could actually be litigated in a few weeks will instead turn into months of days in court with delays, postponements, motions, hearings and continuances. Try to remain patient during this process.
6. Your judgment is awarded. If you have convinced the judge and/or jury of your damages, you may now be awarded your judgment. If successful, you can expect a check within the next few weeks.
To get more information about the personal injury process, talk to an attorney, like one from Putnam Lieb Potvin.