Whether you’re considering getting a Personal Injury Lawyer or if you already have one, you may want to know how your case will unfold. Read below for the steps of most personal injury lawsuits.
Please note that these steps are not “set in stone,” as each case unfolds in its own unique way and there is no specific timeline in place for every personal injury case beyond the 3-year Statute of Limitations in D.C. and in Maryland within which to settle a case or file a lawsuit (with the exception of claims against governments or governmental agencies). Use this as a general guideline so you can have an idea of what to expect.
STEP 1: Retaining a Lawyer
You will schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with your personal injury lawyer. During this time, your lawyer will review your case in-depth and will determine if your claim has a chance to succeed. In other words, is your claim viable in light of all the facts and the applicable law? We utilize Google Earth software to ensure we fully understand how the auto crash occurred or if you were injured in an outside fall, exactly how it occurred. Sometimes this decision can be made immediately, while in other situations, it takes a bit more time. We will communicate with you the resulting information and determine the next logical move.
STEP 2: Investigation/ Case Development
If we decide to take your case, your legal team will begin its own investigation by obtaining all the documentation that relates to your accident. This includes obtaining police reports, ER records, medical documents, and more, depending on the nature of your claim. We will also contact the insurance adjuster handling your claim once we are hired.
STEP 3: The Settlement Demand
Once you are discharged from medical care or reach maximum medical improvement, we will submit a comprehensive DEMAND FOR SETTLEMENT sometimes called a “‘settlement package” because it contains all the documentation in support of your claim plus a factual analysis of why your claim warrants settlement.
STEP 4: Negotiations
In response to the Settlement Demand, the Adjuster will usually make an initial offer; this offer will be promptly communicated to our client with an analysis of the offer and a realistic assessment of what options are available in view of the offer. The three options available are to accept the offer, whether further negotiations would be appropriate or file a lawsuit.
STEP 5: Lawsuit
If negotiations do not result in a fair and reasonable settlement offer and the client is willing to pursue court action, a lawsuit called a “Complaint “will be drafted and filed. The Complaint has to be specifically tailored to the facts of each client’s case. The lawsuit, in essence, is the lawyer’s statement of what can be legally proven in the case. It also advocates the best possible case for the client.
STEP 6: Discovery
All lawsuits have a phase called, “discovery.” The nature and extent of discovery depend upon the specific details of the client’s claim as presented in the Complaint. Discovery consists of responding to formal questions called “Interrogatories” and in most but not all cases, testifying under oath out of court, called a “Deposition” This phase of the case requires client participation. All of our clients are fully prepared for depositions and also to participate in interrogatory responses.
STEP 7: Mediation
This is an “off the record” settlement conference conducted by either a private professional mediator (usually a retired judge) or a volunteer appointed by the court. Although it is becoming very rare, sometimes the Judge in the case will undertake mediation. The defendant or the Adjuster attends the mediation together with their lawyers. Our client attends with us. Mediation can last 2-6 hours, many of our cases settle in the mediation process.
STEP 8: Trial
This is increasingly rare in auto crash cases because most cases are settled long before trial. However, there are circumstances where a trial is the only way to obtain a fair settlement. Trials require extensive preparation, both by attorneys and their clients. They are time consuming, stressful and adversarial by design. Nonetheless, the trial represents a hallmark of our democratic system as it provides a check upon the decisions and character of the powerful.
Do You Need A Personal Injury Lawyer?
Choose wisely. Here in the DC and Maryland area, there are hundreds of personal injury lawyers. Make sure you chose one with experience and great reviews, to increase your chances of getting a favorable outcome. While no lawyer truly can guarantee a “win” for any of their clients, we can safely make this promise: the attorneys at The Lapidus Law Firm will work tenaciously on your behalf. We have 40 years of experience and great reviews that are a testament to the work we do here at our DC law firm.
Are you ready to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation? Call us in DC at (202) 785-5111 or in Maryland at (301) 852-7500.