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Steps in a Personal Injury Case

April 30, 2020 | Personal Injury

Every personal injury case is different, and understanding the steps in this process can be confusing. There is no one way that a personal injury case will play out. However, we can provide a general overview of how a case could look, from the injury all the way through to a trial. As we discuss the steps, the injured party will be referred to as the “plaintiff,” and the alleged at-fault party will be referred to as the “defendant.”

1. Consult an Attorney First

One of the first things you should do after sustaining an injury caused by another person is to speak to several attorneys about your case. Because of how complicated a personal injury case can become, involving an attorney early in the process can help ensure that everything is completed correctly. Most personal injury attorneys in Martinsburg offer free consultations about your case, so there is no harm in asking them to look at the specifics of your particular situation. You want to ensure you secure an attorney who has experience handling your particular injury.

2. Investigate your Case

Personal injury cases often require extensive investigation. Your attorney will be responsible for conducting any investigation necessary for proving liability and showing your total losses. Your lawyer will be responsible for obtaining video and photo surveillance, eyewitness testimony, police reports, and more. They will also obtain your medical bills and proof of other expenses. Using this information, along with your proof of lost income, your personal injury lawyer will work to calculate your total losses.

3. Demand Letter is Written and Sent

Before a lawsuit is filed, you and your attorney will work to obtain a settlement by sending a demand letter outlining your case, discussing your total losses, and demanding payment for the entire amount. The defendant (or their legal counsel/insurance carrier) will review the demand letter and accept it, reject it, or send a counteroffer. Your attorney will make payment demands to:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Pain and suffering damages

4. File a Personal Injury Lawsuit

If the defendant refuses a fair settlement or rejects a claim, then you will file a lawsuit seeking compensation for the damages.

5. Discovery phase

Prior to a trial, both parties will work to obtain all evidence in the case from one another through the discovery process. This gives both parties a chance to evaluate the strength and weaknesses of their case and the case of the opposing side.

6. Mediation and negotiation

Even after a lawsuit is filed, both parties will continue negotiations. Sometimes, a mediator is used to resolve differences between the plaintiff and the defendant. Cases that are settled before going to trial typically cost less and take less time overall.

7. Trial

If a case is not settled, it will need to go to trial. This process will usually involve a jury that will evaluate the facts of the case. They will view the evidence and hear from witnesses and determine fault. If they find in favor of the plaintiff, they will determine an award amount for total damages.

8.  Appeal

Depending on how the case is decided at trial, the losing party may decide to appeal the decision to the appeals court, which can be an entirely different process. If you decide to appeal your case or the opposing side appeals, you will still need to have a skilled attorney by your side to handle the proceedings.