Timeline of a Personal Injury Case
If you are filing a personal injury claim, you may wonder what steps you will have to take to finish the process from consultation to settlement. While the exact nature of your case will vary based on the complexity and circumstances, the majority of Seattle personal injury lawyers in Washington follow this basic timeline.
Step #1: Seeking Medical Treatment
Immediately after your accident, you should seek medical treatment from a hospital or a trusted doctor. Not only is this step important for protecting your health, but your medical records will be a crucial piece of evidence in your case. If you do not seek medical attention, the insurance company or a judge may assume that you did not suffer serious injuries such as a spinal injury or a brain injury, which could impact your settlement.
Step #2: Finding a Lawyer
After you seek medical attention, you should hire a personal injury lawyer in Seattle. Your attorney can provide numerous benefits to your case, ensuring that you meet all filing requirements within required time limits without errors. Attorneys can relieve you of a significant amount of stress during the claims process.
Step #3: Initially Investigating Your Case
When you meet with your attorney, he or she will launch the initial investigation into your case. He or she will interview you about the facts of your accident and your injuries. In addition, your attorney will begin to collect evidence about your case, including your medical records and police reports. This process can take a few months to complete.
Step #4: Making Demands and Negotiations
If your attorney believes that you could settle your case outside the courtroom, he or she will send a demand letter to the at-fault party, his or her attorney, and the insurance company. You and the at-fault party will meet to discuss a potential settlement. The majority of personal injury cases settle out of court, so you could negotiate compensation here. If the negotiation does not go well or the at-fault party refuses to settle, your attorney may file a lawsuit.
Step #5: Filing the Lawsuit
If negotiation does not reach a successful conclusion, your attorney will file a personal injury lawsuit in Washington civil court. Your lawyer may wait for you to reach maximum medical improvement before filing. As a result, your attorney may wait a few months to possibly a year or more to file your lawsuit. This timeline will depend on your case.
Step #6: Beginning the Discovery Process
During the discovery process, your attorney and the at-fault party’s attorney will exchange information about the case. They will investigate each other’s legal claims and defenses. They may also take depositions from witnesses during this process. Discovery can take six months to a year to complete.
Step #7: Negotiating and Mediating
Depending on the case, you may enter into another negotiation process. You and the at-fault party will meet to attempt to reach a settlement. If a settlement is not successful, you will enter the trial process.
Step #8: Entering the Trial Process
If mediation is unsuccessful, you will enter the courtroom. The jury will hear evidence from both sides of the courtroom and decide who is liable for the accident. The jury will also render a verdict. If you are successful, a judgment will be made for the amount in damages you will receive from the defendant. The trial can take a day, a week, or longer to complete.
Step #9: Negotiating and Receiving the Settlement Check
Even though you were awarded a judgment, it may take a few months for you to receive your check. Your attorney will negotiate an agreement with the defense, which you will have to sign. The insurance company will issue a check to your attorney, who will deduct legal fees from the check and other expenses. You will receive the check a few weeks later. If you have not yet contacted an attorney for your case, contact Washington Injury Law as soon as possible to begin the claims process.