If you are unsure whether or not you have a cause of action in a personal injury law suit, you may anticipate for a glimpse of the nature of the proceedings and the duration of action. This piece will inform you of the nature of proceedings, expectations of a litigant for a classic personal injury suit that survives to a civil court and duration of time for claims and action.
An accident victim who is injured in the process must consider getting medical treatment as a priority. You must consult a medical practitioner in the hospital for two reasons to wit: to fix and restore your health, secondly to obtain admissible evidence to enable the insurance adjuster to ascertain the veracity of whether or not you were hurt and the extent of the injury.
When Choosing A Lawyer for Personal Injury Lawsuit
Haven obtained medical treatment; the next step is to choose a lawyer. Where it is a small personal injury or minor claim, you may opt to resolve in person, although the need to have a legal representation cannot be overemphasized for all forms of personal injury suit where you experienced noteworthy harm.
Notwithstanding the above statement, ascertaining whether your claim is small in which you may not need a lawyer can be complicated. A person who is out of employment or whose bone is broken or whose medical bills will be paid by astronomic sum of dollars should certainly hire a lawyer.
It is advisable you seek an audience with more than one lawyer. Then you can make your choice from personal experience and mutual judgment. Upon the decision of your choice, then you will execute a free agreement, and the attorney will start working on your case.
Investigation of Claim By Attorney And Review of Medical Reports
Firstly, your attorney must thoroughly interview you on the facts, incidents or occurrence of the accident. Your attorney may also ask questions on your background, and medical history, condition, and past medical treatment.
The sole aim is for your lawyer to be acquainted with basically everything concerning the accident, past medical records, hurt and treatment. It is advisable not to spring surprises at your lawyer. Ensure you respond to all questions as wholly as you can.
The lawyer will require evidence of your medical records and bills emanating from the injury and will almost certainly demand your medical report for any treatment or therapy that you have ever had or the instant case. This may take months for the lawyer and client to collate and study.
The attorney will review all the documents furnished as evidence, come up with a legal opinion stating whether or not there is a cause of action and the likelihood of success from the legal action.
Professionally, where an attorney determines that there is no cause of action or case, he/she is under obligation to deliver the bad news to the client as early as possible in the representation.
The Option of Demand and Negotiation
In practice, less significant personal injury claims are amicably resolved or settled before a suit is instituted or filed. Where the attorney is of the opinion that the matter can be amicably resolved, he may consider the option of writing a formal letter to the other party or directly to their insurance company.
However, the lawyer can also institute an action by filing a lawsuit against the other party. Where it is a claim that involves unending or permanent injury or impairment, a first-rate lawyer will institute the suit first before considering the amicable resolution of the matter.
A first-rate lawyer never considers the option of making demand until his client has reached a point of advanced or maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI is a medical acronym when an accident victim, who is a plaintiff in a civil action, has completed his/her medical therapy or treatment and has recovered in health as much as it can ever be. The rationale behind this is that before MMI, the attorney does not know the value of the case before him and the negative effect is that the jury possibly will undervalue the claim of the plaintiff and the effect could be adverse to the success of the case.
Matters of this nature should not be handed to desperate attorneys as it could take days, weeks, months or years for the accident victim to reach MMI, but a first-rate lawyer will wait for the victim to recover to ascertain the worth of the case.
The Filing of the Lawsuit
In the United States of America, Pre-trial Procedures vary from state to state; however, it may take between one to two years for the hearing of a personal injury suit to proceed to trial.
Be informed that strict timing restrictions apply to civil procedures and each state has set same as enshrined in the various statute of limitations as passed into law at state levels in the United States of America.
The Process of Discovery
This is a procedure in a civil personal injury claim where each party is notified by way of civil court process of their respective claims and averment in which each party is allowed to scrutinize the legal claims and defenses of each party.
Discoveries are made by way of interrogatories and requests from each other, within specific times, and take witness statement on oath also called depositions of witnesses named by either party. The process of discovery may last between six months to one year, subject to time limits provided by law or under court order and also depending on the intricacy or convolution of the case.
Negotiation and Mediation
Upon conclusion of the process of discovery, attorneys from both sides may generally opt for amicable settlement or out of court settlement. This may be done orally and where they agree on terms amenable to both parties, consent judgment of the terms signed by parties and their lawyers will be filed and adopted as consent judgment of the court.
In some other cases, lawyers may go into mediation. Mediation is another option of amicable settlement where parties and lawyers to both parties agree and appear before a mediator for amicable settlement out of court.
The process of mediation has worked for many litigants in resolving their disputes; however, where it fails, the matter will be fixed for trial or hearing of the substantive suit.
The hearing or trial of a personal injury case may last for one day, one week, or more extended periods. Various factors may usually determine the duration for instance in some jurisdictions, proceedings for trials are held for half of the day and not a full day.
Note that where the matter is fixed for trial, it does not mean that the matter must go on as set or scheduled. It may be rescheduled for several prevailing factors. The judge may not be disposed, issues to ill health of the judge or parties or critical witnesses may also be responsible.
Some clients are persuaded to think that lawyers have conspired or compromised their case where the trial is adjourned to another date.
At the end of the proceedings, the trial judge will carefully evaluate the case before him according to extant laws of his jurisdiction, appraise the evidence adduced by both parties and the witnesses called; then he will arrive at a conclusion, draw his inference and fix the matter for judgment on a date to be known by both parties, then deliver judgment. The judge will also award damages where necessary commensurate to law and impact of injury or claims.