Anatomy of a Personal Injury Case
If you’ve recently been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, by a negligent doctor or nurse, or by a defective product, and are considering taking legal action, you might have a lot of questions about the process. How do personal injury claims work? How long do they take? What steps are involved? What should I expect?
The most important first step to ensure that the process of pursuing a personal injury claim runs smoothly and successfully is to hire an attorney who knows the law and is dedicated to representing you and your interests. Your choice of attorney will make all the difference, and Lee & Fairman has established a reputation as one of Indianapolis’ leading personal injury law firms. Call them today to receive a free evaluation of your case.
- Filing a claim: After establishing the facts of your accident and investigating your claim, your attorney will make a claim with the party responsible for your injuries themselves, or with that party’s insurer, prior to filing a lawsuit. Many personal injury claims can be settled outside of court, especially if there are few facts in dispute and liability clearly lies with one party. However, if the claim is too substantial to resolve in a settlement demand or through the insurer, your attorney will file a lawsuit with the appropriate local court.
- Gathering evidence in discovery: The discovery process is the phase where your attorney, as well as the defendant’s attorney, will collect evidence to be used at trial from the opposing party, and from other sources such as expert witnesses and eyewitnesses. The defendant will likely request to take your deposition, which essentially amounts to an extended interview asking you about your claims. Your attorney will prepare you for this, and will be present at your deposition to ensure that the defendant’s attorney doesn’t harass you or ask inappropriate questions. Your attorney may also ask you to gather and produce any documents you have that relate to your claims.
- Settlement negotiations and motions: After both sides of a lawsuit have exchanged documents and have a better understanding of the sorts of arguments that will be presented at trial, your attorney may attempt to make another settlement offer. Often, this is the stage when the defendant may file motions before the court, seeking to have your claims dismissed, or where your own attorney may seek to have liability for a particular claim resolved in your favor.
- Mediation: Your attorney may suggest attempting to mediate your claims. The judge assigned to your case may also require at least an attempt at mediation before going to trial. Mediation involves both parties going before another attorney—often a retired judge—who will attempt to resolve your claims in a nonbinding manner. This can be an efficient and less-expensive way to resolve a personal injury claim, but depending on how contentious the case has become, may not be successful.
- Trial: Should all attempts to mediate or settle fail, your attorney will take the documentary evidence and witnesses gathered and try your case before a judge and/or a jury. Due to backlogged court systems, it can take a year or more for a case to reach trial, and this doesn’t mean that your attorney isn’t doing all they can for your case. Your attorney will likely ask you to serve as a witness at trial. Trials may last for one to two days, a week, or even multiple weeks, when the facts are highly complex. If your case is being heard by a jury, that jury will take time to deliberate after both parties have completed their arguments, and then will present a verdict.
You only get one chance to seek compensation after you’re hurt, so make sure you do it right. Make sure you hire an attorney you can trust to pursue your claim for damages for a personal injury—an attorney who will make sure you feel included and informed throughout the course of your case, and who will fight with skill and determination for everything you’re owed. The attorneys at Lee & Fairman have been fighting for compensation on behalf of injured Indiana residents for over 30 years, and can assist you in pursuing your claim after injuries resulting from a car accident, medical malpractice, use of a defective product, motorcycle accident, or other injury source. For a free consultation on your case, contact Indianapolis personal injury law firm Lee & Fairman at 317-631-5151.