Each personal injury claim is unique, but there are common stages that make up many personal injury cases. Learn more about what may happen in your case so you are more prepared and understand the process.
Meeting with an Attorney
For many victims, meeting with a personal injury attorney in Lynnwood is the first stage of their personal injury claim. When you work with an attorney, you will not have to handle the insurance companies involved in your case directly. Instead, your attorney will handle the claim, ensuring all paperwork is properly completed and filed and that you receive a fair and reasonable settlement from the insurance company. If the insurer will not provide fair compensation, your case may have to go to court.
At your initial meeting with your attorney, you will be interviewed at length. This is confidential and will cover how you were injured, your medical history and other information relevant to your case. Bring anything you have about the case and your injury to this meeting, including letters from the insurers involved, medical records and accident reports. This will help give your attorney a picture of your claim so they can draft an initial action plan.
You should also learn about the attorney’s fees, policies and client communication practices at this meeting. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask them here. You should not sign any fee agreements until you are certain this is the attorney you want on your case.
Filing Your Claim
If you have not yet filed a claim, your attorney can help you with this phase. If you have but have been denied or were given the runaround, you may need to file a lawsuit. Your attorney will prepare all the relevant paperwork and explain the process and its potential outcomes to you.
Building Your Case
At this stage, your case is entering a “discovery” process. This means that you and the defendants in your case will exchange information, such as medical records and accident reports. This is an intensive and detail-oriented process, and your personal injury attorney in Lynnwood may have to locate expert witnesses and other professionals to help prove your side of the case.
Settlement Negotiating and Alternative Resolution Development
Most personal injury claims will involve some form of settlement negotiations. During these negotiations, your attorney and the insurance companies involved will exchange offers and counteroffers back and forth. In some cases, you will take part in mediation or alternative dispute resolution processes, during which a neutral third party assists with the negotiations in some way. If you and the insurance company are able to agree on a final settlement, you will sign the paperwork to receive your compensation and end the dispute here. If not, your case will have to go to trial.
Negotiating a fair settlement has been likened to a form of art. When an insurance company makes an offer to settle your claim, you can never assume the offer is in your best interest. The insurance company’s main goal is to settle your claim as quickly as possible and for the least amount of money. Your attorney will help you learn what a fair settlement should look like in your case.
Going to Trial
A personal injury trial is a formal process that will involve a judge and, in some cases, a jury. You have to follow strict rules regarding the procedure and the presentation of evidence at trial. A trial usually involves:
• The selection of a jury
• Opening statements
• Presentation of evidence and testimony
• Closing statements
• Instruction to the jury
• Deliberation, during which the judge or the jury makes a decision
Naturally, this is a complex process that requires a lot of technical and legal knowledge. Before you take your claim to trial, make sure your attorney has trial experience.
Recovering Your Compensation Post-Trial
Once you have been awarded compensation in court, you have to collect it from the defendant in the case. This can be simple when the defendant is financially sound, like an insurance company. In cases with private individuals, you may have to take other legal actions to receive your money. Speak to your attorney about all your options during the personal injury claim process so you know where your case stands and where it may go.