A lawsuit generally involves various steps, all of which have a timeline that can vary quite a bit. There are stages, steps, and procedures to go through to get from the initial car crashing compensated, taking anywhere from several months to several years to settle depending on the complexity of the case and the amount of money involved.
As a successful case requires specialized experience and knowledge, it’s in your best interest to work with one of the best accident attorneys there is. That way, you’ll be able to focus on things like improving your health, repairing any damage to your vehicle, or getting it replaced.
We’ll walk you through the main three steps of the lawsuit so that you’ll be prepared when it comes to what to expect. The process for each case will differ based on any number of factors but this will provide you with a rough idea as to how it works. Keep in mind that the majority of car accident cases do settle without having to go through the lawsuit process (litigation). But if there is a dispute as to the extent of your damages or which person was at fault for the crash, there’s a good chance a lawsuit will be necessary.
Consultation, Documentation and an Assessment of Potential Damages
The first step is a consultation with an attorney. During the meeting, he or she will discuss fees, the details of your case, and determine if you have a valid claim. If so, one of the first things your personal injury lawyer will do is to access your medical records and history so that they have a more in-depth understanding as to the extent of psychological, emotional and physical injuries you’ve suffered. It’s important to bring copies of any medical bills associated with the accident. All of this information will help the attorney determine an estimate of total damages.
In addition to collecting medical records, your lawyer may obtain copies of police reports, interview witnesses, investigate the crash scene, and obtain copies of police reports. They may consider the condition of the other vehicle involved and pull the mobile phone and/or driving records of the negligent party. All of these details help to prove the defendant was negligent in causing the accident and any injuries. Oftentimes experts are called in to consult with the attorney to help build a strong case, such as physicians, mechanics, economists, and accident reconstruction experts. This can take anywhere from several months to a year or more.
Your attorney will negotiate with the defendant’s insurance company to try to resolve the case without going to trial. Most claims settle out of court, but if a fair settlement isn’t offered, a lawsuit will be filed. The defendant will be served a copy of the complaint which can take anywhere from about three to 12 weeks or so if it’s difficult for the defendant to be tracked down. Depending on the court in which the lawsuit is pending, the defendant typically has around 30 days to file an answer. A trial typically takes just a couple of days at most. If one of the parties is not happy with the decision, it may be appealed.