Every personal injury situation is different and complicated in its own way. It can take two or more years for a complete investigation that can yield the compensation you seek. Although some personal injury cases are settled more quickly than others, it is in your best interest to be patient as an initial insurance settlement offer is usually not the best one you’ll get. If you have been injured in a car accident, it would be wise to hire a personal injury lawyer to fight for your case and help advise you when to settle.
Steps to Resolve a Personal Injury Case
- Medical Injury Evaluation – In a serious case, it can take a year or more to evaluate the severity or permanent nature of an injury but it is best to wait for the evaluation.
- Legal Steps – Your accident lawyer will keep your case moving forward by following these standard steps.
- Discovery – the discovery period can last up to six months and gives both parties an opportunity to gather information, exchange disclosure statements and other documents such as accident reports, medical records and bills, answer interrogatories (written questions to be answered under oath) and to undergo a medical exam by an independent doctor.
- Deposition – this is where the opposing attorney asks you questions under oath. Expect to be questioned about the accident and resulting injuries and about your personal background and life before the accident. Your accident attorney will prepare you for the deposition and defend you against irrelevant or harassing questions.
- Pre-Trial Motions – attorneys may file a motion (or many) to narrow the issues to be discussed at trial. A motion could deny certain evidence from being revealed or even ask that a case be dismissed due to lack of evidence.
- Mediation, Settlement or Arbitration – it is often required that mediation or settlement conferences occur before a case goes to trial. A neutral mediator will go over the issues with both parties to help guide them to a settlement. In contrast, an arbitrator acts as a judge to listen to the evidence and then decide the outcome of the case.
- Trial – If mediation is unsuccessful your case will go to trial where a jury will decide the value of your injury. It could take up to six months to get a trial scheduled and the trial could last two days to two weeks. Even after a trial, further appeals or motions could be filed. It is also possible that the parties could settle out of court even at this time.
Your best bargaining power is to be patient while weighing the expense of litigation and trial. It may or may not turn into your best interest to settle in mediation so it is important to have a personal injury lawyer representing and guiding you. You may have many questions for your personal injury attorney including how long the case will take to resolve once medical and insurance experts have investigated your accident and injuries, can doctors and hospitals be held off for payment while the case is being resolved or how much compensation is reasonable to expect in your case.
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident, you have enough to deal with. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!