Stages of Personal Injury Claim – Timeline
Being injured can put your personal and professional life on hold and can threaten your and your family’s financial stability if your costs and damages are not fully covered. After an injury, a personal injury claim can help you recover compensation for these losses and provide resources for your ongoing or future medical needs.
When you are injured as a result of another person’s negligence, they may be liable for the costs and damages associated with your injuries. Compensation for your damages however is not automatic, and only happens when you collect evidence, draft a claim, then file it.
However, there are many steps in this process.
The Stages of a Personal Injury Case
- Injury – you are harmed and require medical treatment, and may have ongoing symptoms or disability. This can be in a motor vehicle collision, premises liability incident or any other accident resulting in injury.
- Losses – such as medical bills, missed work, lost earning potential, pain and suffering. Typically, the more severe the injury, the more extensive your losses will be. This is especially true in cases involving catastrophic injury or permanent disability.
- Gathering evidence to accurately measure damages – you can only collect damages you can prove, which often requires expert opinions or testimony about your injuries and their future implications.
- Drafting of a claim – the evidence is included in the drafting of a comprehensive claim that covers your full damages
- Determination of at-fault parties – the party that caused your injury will be liable for your damages, and in most cases, you’ll be pursuing compensation through their insurance company. This stage often requires extensive evidence as well. The evidence required and method of collection will differ depending upon the circumstances of the case. For instance, a motor vehicle crash may involve tire skid marks and dashcam footage, while a premises liability case may involve lease agreements or policies, procedures, and manuals on safety and inspections.
- Filing of claim – your claim is then filed with the appropriate party
- Negotiation of claim – insurance companies profit by collecting premiums from their insured and paying the least amount possible to injury victims. The insurance company may even deny your claim altogether. It is your attorney’s job to negotiate a fair settlement and protect your best interests.
- Accepting a fair settlement – if you receive an offer that you believe is fair, you can accept and expect to be paid within 30 days. When you accept a settlement, you will be asked to sign a document called a “Release” which your lawyer will review with you in detail before you sign it.
- Filing a lawsuit – if no fair settlement can be reached, your attorney will file a lawsuit and bring the case to court. While this process will considerably lengthen the timeline, it is sometimes necessary when the insurance company does not make a fair settlement offer.
A Personal Injury Attorney Will Guide you Through the Process
The personal injury claims process can be lengthy and confusing and it is always in your best interest to speak with an attorney. In most cases, an insurance company is responsible for ultimately paying your claim. The insurance company will often try to settle with an injury victim before the victim has an opportunity to hire a lawyer. Multiple studies show that insurance companies pay out less when the injury victim does not have a lawyer.
An insurance company may attempt to deny paying your claim entirely. A personal injury attorney can protect your best interests, keep the process moving, and build a strong case for a fair and full recovery. If no settlement can be reached, your attorney can file a lawsuit where you case will ultimately be decided by a jury of 12 people. Even when a lawsuit is filed, most cases settle without the injury victim ever having to go to court.