If you have been injured in a car crash due to another person’s negligence and have decided to pursue a claim for your injuries, you may not know what to expect and will probably have many questions. How long will my case take? How much is my case worth? The length and value of your case depends on several factors, so these questions can be difficult to answer since every case involves different facts and injuries. However, while each case is unique, the lifecycle of a personal injury case generally remains the same and can typically be divided into three stages: Investigative Stage, Treatment Stage, and Resolution Stage.
The Investigative Stage begins immediately after the wreck, so it is important to gather as much information as possible at the scene of the crash. If you can, you should try to do the following:
- Contact the police
- Take photographs of the scene, any visible injuries you sustained, and the damages to your vehicle as well as any other vehicles involved in the collision
- Get the at-fault driver’s name, address, telephone number, insurance information, driver’s license number and license plate number
- Obtain contact information for any witnesses
When you are able to, you should then consult with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. At Dudley DeBosier, one of our attorneys will thoroughly review and investigate your case by obtaining and reviewing the crash report, investigating insurance coverage, interviewing eyewitnesses, requesting copies of your medical records, and obtaining evidence essential to your case.
If you are hurt or experience any pain after a wreck, you should seek immediate medical treatment. Regardless of whether you intend to make a claim against another party for your injuries your health and wellbeing should be the primary concern. Even after seeking initial medical care, you may not know the extent and severity of your injuries; therefore, it is important that you continue to seek medical treatment for any ongoing symptoms.
Insurance companies will frequently try to get you to accept a quick settlement after a wreck before you even know the full nature and extent of your injuries. Imagine if your vehicle was damaged in a car wreck. Would you accept a settlement for your property damages without knowing the extent of the damages to your vehicle? Of course not. The same should go for your own body. Therefore, you should never accept a settlement offer without knowing the extent and severity of your injuries and consult with a qualified personal injury attorney.
Once your case is ready to be resolved, your attorney will attempt to settle your case with the insurance company or other responsible parties. Many times, a settlement can be negotiated before a lawsuit is filed; however, there are times when it is necessary to file a lawsuit depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. After a lawsuit is filed, the “discovery” process begins. During the discovery process, each party will have the opportunity to obtain relevant factual information from each other in order to determine their adversary’s legal claims and defenses by sending interrogatories (written questions), requesting documents, and taking depositions of the parties and relevant witnesses in the case.
Even after a lawsuit is filed, most cases are resolved before they go to trial. The parties may reach a settlement agreement through negotiations amongst themselves or by mediation, which is overseen by a neutral third-party. However, if a settlement cannot be reached, the case will go to trial and be decided by a judge or jury.
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