Getting injured in a motor vehicle accident can change your life in an instant. Depending on how severe your injuries are, it can take a long time to get back on track. You need to make sure that your legal rights are protected after being involved in an auto accident. While there is no set template on how to handle a personal injury claim, there are some basic, simple steps you can use as a guideline.
This step is crucial as an attorney will be able to help you navigate this process from start to finish. Never try to represent yourself in a situation like this. The process is extremely complicated and you need someone to help you through it. So your first step is researching and finding a lawyer. When you find one you develop a rapport with, take the time to ask any questions you may have.
Make sure to tell your lawyer the whole story and about any negligence of the other party. Also discuss, the severity of your injuries, how much you owe on medical bills, and about your current employment situation. Provide as many details about everything as you can. This will enable your lawyer to better evaluate legal options and any specific circumstances about your case.
You and your lawyer will start collecting information as soon as possible. Make sure your notes include a copy of the police report as this can often become the center of your case. You will also compile your medical records, obtain witness testimony, and gather up your employment records (remember lost income and future earnings might become part of the lawsuit). Your lawyer may wish to secure any video surveillance or footage available around the time of the accident, which could help your case.
During Step 3, you and your attorney will create a comprehensive and detailed letter that outlines your case. Included will be information about your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc. The letter of demand is crucial to your case and must be written with care. Any documents and photos you can include will also help. At the end of the letter you will demand a sum of money that the opposing party will consider and then formally reply with an answer.
If the opposing party does not agree to the demand or you are unable to reach a settlement, then it’s time to take it to court. You will file a lawsuit seeking compensation for damages sustained in the accident.
This is when all factual information is brought out on the case and each side has the chance to assess the others’ case.
Mediation is often done in attempts to avoid a costly trial. The mediator will gather everyone informally and allow opposing sides to try to reach an agreement.
If you have reached Step 7, then both your letter of demand failed as did mediation. Now it’s time to go in front of the judge or jury and have a formal decision made. All facts will be evaluated, and fault will be determined.
An appeal is often sought by the losing party in an attempt to have the decision reversed. Appeals are handled differently, and your personal injury attorney may consult with an appellate lawyer.
The legal process is complicated and there are endless rules and regulations that you must follow when filing a lawsuit. It is important that you find experienced lawyers that can handle every step in the process. If you are a victim of someone else’s driving negligence, there are specific rights guaranteed to you by law. Contact a personal injury lawyer as your first step in this process.