Being hurt in an accident can disrupt your life, and the financial losses and pain you experience can be life-changing. Fortunately, when you suffer an injury in an accident because of another person’s negligence in Illinois, a personal injury claim can get you the compensation you need to move on with your life. Compensation cannot undo the harm already done, but it can help you move onto a better path. Read on to learn more about the stages in a personal injury case.
If you need your questions answered directly, contact our team at the Law Offices of Glenn & West to request a free consultation.
Stage #1: Initial Consultation With a Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve never had to file a personal claim, you might be feeling anxious about pursuing such a claim. However, you should know that not all personal injury cases go to court, and the process does not have to be stressful, especially if you work with a qualified attorney.
After receiving treatment for your injury, the first step is contacting an attorney. When you contact an attorney, you set up a free initial consultation to discuss your case. During your first meeting, an attorney will help you determine if you have a valid claim.
To make the most of this meeting, ensure you bring supporting documentation such as medical records. If a personal injury attorney believes you have a valid personal injury claim, they will explain to you your legal options.
Stage #2: Evaluating a Personal Injury Attorney
The attorney you hire to help you can make or break your case. Therefore, a crucial step in your injury case is ensuring you hire the right attorney. When you meet a personal injury attorney for the first time, ask them about their experience level. You should also ask for your attorney’s track record of success during your initial consultation. Additionally, Google can be an excellent resource for reading customer reviews.
Stage #3: Hiring an Attorney
After meeting with several personal injury attorneys and evaluating the attorneys, the next stage is hiring an attorney. It’s always best to hire an attorney with experience handling personal injury cases similar to yours—and with a proven track record that shows success. Once you decide on the attorney you want to help you with your case, you’ll be asked to sign an agreement. Before signing anything, make sure you read carefully and never be afraid to ask questions.
Stage #4: Investigation
After hiring an attorney, they will gather evidence that helps them to understand how you suffered your injuries as well as the extent of your injuries. They will also gather evidence that helps them understand the extent of any other losses you suffered. Your attorney will also begin contacting expert witnessesm, if necessary.
When you choose the right personal injury attorney, they will focus on investigating your case so you can focus on getting the medical attention you need.
Stage #5: Filing the Claim and Beginning Negotiations
Next, your attorney takes steps to file your personal injury claim. At this stage, your attorney may contact the other party and their insurance company to give notice of your claim as well explain the other party’s liability and your injuries.
Generally, your attorney takes care of dealing with the insurance company and keeps you updated. Again, this allows you to focus on recovery and receiving medical treatment.
Stage #6: Settling Your Claim
If your attorney negotiates with the insurance company and the insurance company gives you a fair offer, your attorney may decide that it is best to settle your case at this stage. However, while your attorney can prove quite helpful when it comes to determining if an offer from an at-fault party’s insurance company is fair, the final decision about whether to accept a settlement offer is your decision.
If negotiations between you and the at-fault party’s insurance company are successful, your injury case will end at this stage. You sign a release form stating that you release the liable party from any liability and obligation to compensate you for the damages associated with the same accident in the future. Because of this, you must wait until you reach maximum medical improvement before accepting a settlement offer from an insurance company.
Stage #7: Filing a Lawsuit
If negotiations are unsuccessful, your attorney will move to file a lawsuit in court. Once your case is filed in court, it will go through several phases, all of which have a deadline.
Stage #8: Discovery and Mediation
The discovery phase is usually the first step after a personal injury lawsuit is filed in court. However, if a defendant files a motion asking the court to dismiss some of your claims or the entire case, the first step might be filing a response in opposition to the motion. In the discovery phase, each party collects information regarding the case from the other party and third parties.
Stage #9: Mediation
After the discovery phase and before trial, you may need to try mediation, which is an alternative dispute resolution method. If you come to an agreement at this stage, your case ends here. It is estimated that about 95% of pending personal injury lawsuits end in a pre-trial settlement.
Stage #10: Trial and Verdict
If you and the other party can’t come to an agreement during mediation, your case proceeds to trial. Here, your attorney presents your side of the case and the other party defends themselves, usually through their insurance company. Once that’s done, the judge or jury decides if the defendant is liable and, if so, how much they should pay.
Get the Help You Need Today
We hope you found this article on the stages in a personal injury case helpful.
If you’ve sustained injuries in an accident in Illinois because of another party’s negligence, you need a qualified attorney on your side. Contact our skilled and dedicated personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Glenn & West, LLC, to discuss your legal options during a free legal consultation.