1. Seek Medical Treatment
The first thing that you should do after an accident is seek medical treatment. Injuries do not always appear right away, especially after a traumatic incident when you may be experiencing shock or a rush of adrenaline. If you have even the slightest sense that you are hurt, go to the emergency room, urgent care facility, or make an appointment to see your doctor. Not only is this the right thing to do for your health, but, if you do not see a medical professional for some time after an accident, insurance companies may assume your injuries are not that serious.
2. Consult a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have been involved in an accident and have been injured, you will no doubt want to get your case resolved and move on with your life. The insurance companies know this and will often offer you a settlement they know you might be reluctant to accept, but would be willing to just to get things resolved. This is rarely your best option. It is important to remember that an insurance company will not pay you more than what they have to because they are in business to make money, not to do what is best for you. If you do not have an attorney on your side, the insurance companies are not concerned about a lawsuit. According to a study done by the Insurance Research Council, those who hire an attorney in a personal injury case receive 3.5 times larger settlements than those who settle with the insurance adjuster on their own. The right injury lawyer will help you ensure you are fairly compensated for your injuries and losses.
Since the last thing you need to worry about after an injury is how you would pay for a lawyer, Zemper Law does not collect any legal fees unless we win for you so there are no out of pocket expenses. Contact us today to talk about your claim.
One of the first things your lawyer will do is talk to you about what happened. It is important that your lawyer learns everything she can about the incident, your injuries, and your medical treatment in order to make the best plan to move your claim forward. Your lawyer may hire investigators, a crash reconstructionist, or other experts to fully develop your claim. If law enforcement or a prosecutor’s office is involved, your lawyer should work with them to assist with their process when possible, while also protecting your rights and interests. Your lawyer will also collect all relevant medical records, bills, police reports and other documents related to your claim.
4. Making Demands and Negotiating
Many personal injury claims are settled before a lawsuit is ever filed. If your case can be settled, your lawyer will make a demand to the other attorney or the other side's insurance company. The demand will tell the story of what you have gone through and explain your injuries, economic and non-economic damages and include the relevant documentation as support. Your lawyer will work to negotiate the best settlement for you.
5. Filing a Lawsuit and the Discovery Phase
If a claim cannot be settled with a demand or your case is getting close to the statute of limitations for filing a claim, a lawsuit may need to be filed. Sometimes lawsuits are the only thing that insurance companies respond to and they may feel greater pressure to reach a more fair settlement once the lawsuit has been filed. Your lawyer will file a formal complaint in the appropriate court and begin the discovery phase of litigation when each party investigates the other side's legal claims and defenses. This will likely include document requests to each other and depositions of all relevant parties and witnesses. This process can last six months to a year, depending on the court’s deadlines and the complexity of the case.
6. Mediation and Negotiation
As the discovery period ends, the lawyers will often start talking settlement. Sometimes the lawyers can settle the case themselves, but, in other cases, they will go to mediation. Mediation is a process in which both clients and both lawyers get help from a neutral third party mediator to try to resolve the case.
Mediation often works, but if it does not, the case is scheduled for trial. A personal injury trial can last a day, a week, or even longer. At the trial, the information that has been gathered through discovery will be presented to a jury for them to decide if the plaintiff should be awarded and what the amount of the judgment will be.
Having the right injury lawyer on your side through every stage of your case can make all the difference. When the unexpected sets you back, the right injury lawyer moves you forward. Contact Zemper Law today to discuss your claim.