What Are the Stages of a Personal Injury Case?
Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney
first stage in any personal injury matter should be getting the
medical care and treatment needed to immediately address your injuries. This serves two purposes.
First and foremost, it
treats your injuries. Second, it
documents your injuries so that the defense cannot later claim your failure to get
treatment is evidence that you weren't really injured.
Accident victims often times have immediate questions such as where to
go for treatment, who will pay my medical bills, is my health insurance
billed or what if I don't have health insurance? If you have health
insurance, your carrier will typically pay your medical bills and then
be reimbursed by the at-fault party's insurance carrier after your
case is resolved. If you do not have health insurance, we can set you
up with doctors who will treat you under a "doctor's lien"
wherein they agree to be paid after your case is resolved.
second stage in a personal injury case should be
meeting with your attorney. You should meet with your attorney
as soon as possible! Often times, there are
immediate concerns that your attorney will need to address such as:
- Evidence preservation (photographing the scene of the accident or vehicles involved)
- Evidence documentation (interviewing witnesses, getting accident and medical
- Preparing you for any interviews with insurance adjusters
- Verifying you have access to the appropriate medical specialties to treat
each of your injuries.
- Arranging for your rental car
- Arranging to have your property damage repaired and paid
third stage of your case, you are now set up with all of your medical providers and
are receiving treatment. Throughout this stage, we are monitoring your
medical treatment and obtaining all of your medical records and bills.
We are also obtaining your property damage records/bills and gathering
any documents related to any lost income you have suffered.
forth stage of your case begins when you have finalized your medical treatment. At
this point, we gather all of your medical records/bills, property damage
records/bills and lost income documentation and use these in drafting a
"demand letter" which is sent to the defendant's insurance carrier (or directly to
the defendant if uninsured).
The demand letter outlines liability (i.e. who was at fault), the damages
you sustained (past medical bills, anticipated future medical bills, past
and future pain & suffering, lost income and anticipated future lost
income, etc.) and demands a certain amount of money to settle your claim.
You will have, of course, already read and approved the demand letter
before it is ever sent to the defendant's insurance carrier.
Then the negotiations begin with the defense, wherein they typically begin
by offering to settle your case for an amount less than the amount contained
in the demand letter. If eventually the parties are able to come to an
agreement, the case is then settled and there is no need for ever filing
a lawsuit (i.e. a "pre-suit" settlement).
If the parties are
not able to reach an amicable settlement, your case would then enter into the
fifth stage wherein a personal injury
lawsuit would be filed against the defendant on your behalf.
Once the lawsuit is filed, the parties are in the "
discovery phase" of the suit. During the discovery phase, the parties exchange written
questions for each other to answer (called "
interrogatories" and "
requests for admissions") and written requests for documents (called "
requests for production").
Depositions can also take place during the discovery phase. A deposition is a recorded
statement wherein a person is placed under oath and are asked about their
knowledge of something related to the case. Typically, the parties to
the suit (i.e. you and the defendant), the investigating officer(s), your
medical physicians and witnesses to the accident could be called to give
Once the discovery phase of the lawsuit is completed, the parties normally
attend a "
mediation". The mediation is where both parties get together and try to settle
the case. It is usually conducted at the mediator's office and is
attended by the plaintiff, plaintiff's attorney, defendant, defendant's
attorney, the defendant's insurance adjuster and the mediator. The
mediator is neutral party and is chosen by the parties. During the mediation,
the plaintiff's attorney (i.e. your attorney) typically goes first
and explains the facts of the case and ends by demanding a certain amount
to settle the case. The defense attorney then explains their side of the
case. Next, the parties split up and each meet privately with the mediator
for the remainder of the mediation. The mediator then goes back and forth
between the parties, conveying counter-offers and counter-demands. If
they reach an agreement, the case is settled and does not proceed to trial.
If the case does not settle at the mediation, the case proceeds into its
sixth stage which is
setting the case for trial.
Call Saffa Law Group for the compassionate, yet aggressive Charlotte personal injury lawyers