Many people may not realize this, but if you pursue a personal injury claim, you will not likely see the inside of the courtroom anytime soon, if at all. The vast majority of personal injury claims settle before a lawsuit is even filed. Those that go all the way to trial have a long road to walk before entering the courtroom. Here, we will walk you through some of the major steps that will be taken prior to your personal injury claim going to trial, if it does at all.
What Happens Before a Personal Injury Claim Goes to Trial?
After you sustain an injury caused by the negligence of another, a claim will be filed with the at-fault party’s insurance company. After you have received the emergency medical care you need and the follow-up care you need to reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), your personal injury attorney will submit a demand letter on your behalf. The demand letter outlines the events of the accident, to establish that the insured for the insurance company was, in fact, responsible for causing the accident that left you injured. Furthermore, the demand letter will detail the nature and extent of the injuries you suffered. Medical reports will be submitted. Your medical bills will be submitted along with any other expenses you incurred as a result of the accident. The demand letter will, as the name suggests, make a demand for an amount to cover the damages you sustained in order to successfully settle the claim without further action needed.
A few things can happen after the demand letter is sent to the insurance company. One option is that the insurance company flat out denies the claim. In the alternative, the insurance company may agree to the settlement demand amount being made or, most likely, will counter with a different, lower settlement amount. This is when negotiations really get rolling. There may be a substantial amount of back and forth between your attorney and the insurance company as he or she tries to maximize the amount of recovery you receive. Should your attorney and the insurance company reach a mutually agreeable settlement amount that properly compensates you for the losses you have suffered, then that will be that and your settlement will be processed.
If the insurance company continues to deny your claim or continues to significantly devalue your claim to the point that the offers to settle made do not come close to covering your damages, then your attorney may proceed with filing a lawsuit. Now, it is important to note that, even after a lawsuit is filed, your claim may still settle before it goes to trial. In fact, your claim may settle at any point right up until the judge or jury delivers its verdict.
Once the lawsuit has been filed and the petition answered by the defendant, pretrial hearings will commence as well as discovery. Discovery is a fact-finding mission conducted by both sides to try and gather as much information about the claim and the parties involved as possible. Document production will be requested. Interrogatories will be submitted and answered. Depositions will be taken.
After discovery, the court may order the parties to go to mediation as a last attempt at reaching a settlement. At the mediation, a mediator, a neutral third party, will facilitate talks aimed at arriving at a settlement agreement that both sides find amenable. If mediation should fail, the claim will proceed to trial. The outcome of the case will be decided by a judge or jury.
Personal Injury Attorney
The road to full and fair compensation for your injuries can feel endless. The success and fluidity of the process, however, can largely rest on securing dependable, knowledgeable counsel. The dedicated personal injury team at Hunt Law is here to work tirelessly to help your claim succeed. Contact us today.