When you’ve been injured in an accident, it is only natural to want to recover the compensation you are owed for your losses, pain and suffering. Sometimes, people fail to contact a personal injury law firm in Lynnwood because they have concerns about the process, particularly when it comes to going to court. One common misconception about personal injury claims is that they all end up in court, like you sometimes see on TV and in the movies, and court can be a scary idea to many people. It’s a completely unknown environment with a lot of rules, and there are a lot of negative associations because of how it’s often depicted in popular culture.
However, in reality, your personal injury case will probably not go to trial. Your personal injury law firm in Lynnwood will work toward getting you a reasonable and fair outcome without you having to go through the entire court process. Experienced attorneys will be able to present your case in court if necessary, but negotiating with the insurer or other responsible party involved is often the preferred course of action once you have returned to your pre-accident state or your medical providers reach the point where there’s not much else they can do for you. Settlements usually mean lower legal expenses and less time spent in court, and it’s quicker to settle a case than go through a trial in court.
Cases that end up coming to court often do so for one of two reasons: there is a disagreement over who is at fault for the accident or the two sides simply don’t agree about the reasonable value of the case. The latter often includes whether the injury existed previously due to other causes or was from the accident itself. Your attorney will advise you on what he or she believes is a reasonable value for your claim based on your specific circumstances.
When no fair settlement can be reached with the party responsible for the injury or the party’s insurer, the next step is usually to file a case in court. In Washington, cases with a value that is less than $50,000 go into what is known as mandatory arbitration before going in front of a judge. In this process, cases are heard by an attorney who doesn’t have a connection to the case and is serving as the arbitrator. This process does have benefits, as cases here are decided within six months. It may take a year or more before a case can go before a judge at trial. In addition, mandatory arbitration is less expensive than a trial by jury.
Cases that have a value that exceeds $50,000 are usually filed in court and then go through the legal process. However, even if you file with the court, you can still settle or come to an agreement prior to your trial date. Having a trial date doesn’t mean you’ll be forced to go to court, and sometimes the at-fault party will make a new offer or re-open negotiations to avoid going to the courtroom. Should your case not settle and you need to go to trial, your legal representation will present your case in court and fight for the settlement to which you are entitled.
Keep in mind that before you sign on with any attorney, you should determine what their fees are and how they charge. Some firms charge by the hour and/or per service, while others do not charge upfront fees but do recover their fee as a percentage of what you receive in court or through a settlement. Legal fees can add up quickly, so it pays to have an idea of what you will be charged and when you will be expected to pay. When you’re fully versed on the cost, you’ll be more comfortable with the process.
Being hurt in an accident can cause you to miss work, experience pain and suffering, incur a stack of medical bills and impact your life now and in the future. Speak to an experienced attorney about your personal injury case as soon as you can to protect all of your rights.
What Will Court Proceedings Entail for You?
If your personal injury claim goes to court, you should prepare yourself for the proceedings. This will include your attendance to testify and the opposing party’s cross-examination of your claims. The timetable and requirements will be determined by the court that received the case. During this time, it is important that you enlist the help of an attorney. They will assist you throughout the process and ensure that you receive the appropriate settlement for the case.
What Happens when a Trial Date is Set?
Once a trial date is set, you will have to send the court a list of the paperwork that is relevant to your case. These will include official witness accounts and medical reports. As dictated by procedure, you will need to sign these documents to ascertain your knowledge of them. This will also work to validate your claims.
The court will always take all parties’ schedules into account before setting a trial date. Additionally, they also consider the complexity of the case to make the proper preparations. This will include the affected parties’ health and financial situation.
Will I Have to Attend Court Proceedings?
Personal injury claims with a value of less than $100,000 will go through mandatory arbitration to expedite the process. This means your case is assigned to a neutral attorney who will hear the case and decide on the total award. However, once it has gone over that amount and the case is taken to court, you will have to attend the proceedings. Cases like these are often serious in nature and your statements will be used to determine the severity of the claim. It is during this time that an attorney is necessary since they will represent you in your favor.
What Happens During a Personal Injury Court Hearing?
When a personal injury claim goes to court, the case will be heard and decided by a jury. They will have to hear both sides and receive all relevant information on the case before deciding on the outcome.
Typically, you will be called to give a statement and be cross-examined by the opposing party. In turn, the latter will be subjected to the same treatment. Additionally, witnesses will be called in to give their testimonies on the matter. All of these will be taken into consideration in finalizing the verdict.
How Long Will It Take for the Case to be Settled in Court?
The length of the trial will depend on the facts of your accident, the complexity of the case and many other factors. As with most civil court proceedings, a personal injury claim can take two to three years to be settled. The length is attributed to the complexity of the case and the unpredictability of either party. Additionally, factors, such as fault and level of harm, are often difficult to determine in a timely manner.
If you are the injured party, it is imperative that you employ professional help before filing for a claim. An attorney will be able to assist you throughout the process and give you the appropriate result.