How Your Personal Injury Case Will Be Handled
An Outline of the Process
While I cannot give you a firm schedule of events in the prosecution of your claims, I can tell you that there are three phases of every case:
- Post resolution
These three phases frequently overlap. For example, we often continue to perform investigation even though we are in litigation. A particular phase might be so short you might not realize that it has occurred. All three phases will occur in your case.
Pre-litigation/Investigation - The process of gathering evidence of your claims
During this phase of your case, we get to know you and the facts of your accident, injuries and treatment for those injuries. We begin the process of gathering the evidence needed to convince a claims adjuster or jury to put a fair value on your damages.
This process can take any length of time from weeks to several years, depending on the nature and extent of your injuries and damages, whether your injuries have become permanent and stationary, and our legal strategy.
Negotiation/Litigation - The process of resolving your claims
Once we have gathered enough evidence to establish liability and we have a firm grasp on all of your damages, we start the process of resolving your claims.
Usually, we first try to convince the decision-maker acting on behalf of the responsible party -- usually the claims adjuster for the insurance company or the claims manager for a defendant corporation -- to agree to pay a fair recovery to you (initially we actually ask for a lot more than we expect your case is worth).
However, if the decision-maker will not settle, the factual or legal disputes about your injuries or liability are significant, or the defendant his a policy of not settling cases before a lawsuit is filed, we will file a lawsuit to start the process of submitting the resolution of your claims to a jury.
Just because a lawsuit is filed does not mean that we stop trying to convince the decision-maker to pay a good value to settle your claims.
Most of our filed cases are settled through discussions at or around mediation or other settlement processes. Very few cases actually go to a trial.
If your case goes all the way to a trial, this phase of your case can take one or two years, and sometimes longer.
Post-Resolution - Enforcing The Agreement
When the defendant has agreed to pay a fair value to settle your claims, and you and I agree with the amount, we begin:
- The process of collecting the money;
- Paying the various case costs, liens, claims for repayment by your health insurance company or a government program that you owe;
- Arranging for long term investment of your recovery to pay for future medical bills or lost income (if this is your desire or if the court requires it);
- And/or delivering the net settlement funds to you.
This post-resolution process can take two or three months to complete after everyone is in agreement.