If you’ve been injured by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, it may be time to consider hiring a personal injury attorney like J. Clay McCaslin to get the money you need and deserve for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other losses.
While just thinking about filing a lawsuit may cause stress, it may be your only recourse if an insurance company refuses to work with you and offer a fair settlement for your injuries or the wrongful death of a loved one.
Personal Injury Process
After the initial injury, there are certain stages of the personal injury timeline that all or most victims will go through. With an experienced, knowledgeable personal injury lawyer guiding you through this complex process, your chances of getting a fair settlement greatly improve.
Seeking medical attention is the first step in the personal injury timeline. It’s imperative to seek medical attention as quickly as possible after your injury. Not only will this improve your chances for a full recovery, if that’s possible, but it will ensure that documentation of your injury begins right away. If you wait a week or even a day after an accident to get medical attention, the “other side” will surely claim that you were not seriously injured and may even claim that you feigned your injuries after you got the idea to file a personal injury claim.
There are some injuries that don’t manifest themselves until after the accident, so you may not feel you need medical attention immediately in some cases. A medical doctor will be able to explain to your legal team (and a court, if necessary) why there was a delay in your symptoms, but please get medical attention immediately after the accident just to make sure you’re OK.
You should always consult with a personal injury attorney very soon after the accident. If you’re injured in a car accident on a weekend, late at night, or early in the morning, don’t wait. Many injury lawyers take calls 24/7 to help victims who are hurt. Some lawyers will answer those late night calls themselves. The longer you wait to consult an attorney, the more difficult it will be to fight your case.
Once your lawyer is hired, the process of investigating the claim and acquiring medical records will begin. Your legal team will need notes from every medical visit and procedure you endure; your lawyer and his medical expert (s) will examine any x-ray, prescriptions, MRI, CT, and physical therapy records associated with your injury.
You and your lawyer will then file an insurance claim or demand a settlement. When an insurance claim is filed and a settlement amount is offered, your lawyer may accept that amount on your behalf, or a counter-offer will be made. This type of back and forth may go on for quite some time, until your lawyer gets an offer that he feels is a fair settlement for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses. Keep in mind that most personal injury cases are settled during this stage and most never see a courtroom.
If a settlement with the insurance company cannot be reached, your lawyer will file a personal injury lawsuit. All states, including Oregon, have statutes of limitations that set a time limit for you to file your case. The statutes of limitations may vary for medical malpractice, car accidents, slip and falls, and wrongful death or other claims, and your lawyer will explain that to you during the course of this process.
After the personal injury lawsuit is filed, both sides will begin the “discovery” phase of the lawsuit. Discovery is the process in which each party investigates the facts to determine the validity of the claims and defenses. During the discovery phase, depositions will take place and the parties may send each other written interrogatories and requests for admission. Medical professionals typically give depositions regarding your injury, treatment, and prognosis.
After the discovery phase, your lawyer may enter into mediation with the other party. After discovery has been completed, the lawyers for the two sides will try to settle the case once again, and mediation is often used to achieve that goal. A neutral third party that’s been approved by both sides will hear the details of the case prior to the case going to trial. The mediator facilitates the negotiations of the two sides but has no stake in the case. A good mediator will work with the opposing parties and steer the negotiations in the direction most likely to reach a settlement.
If a settlement cannot be reached in mediation, the case typically will go to trial. Personal injury trials can be hours, days, weeks, or months long; your lawyer will be able to give you an estimate on how long yours should take if it goes that far.
Over 90% of personal injury claims are settled before ever going to court, but if yours does make it to court, a great deal of preparation will be necessary. If you follow the advice and guidance of your lawyer and don’t do anything to hurt your case, you may be able to recover the monetary compensation you need for your injury and other losses.