How Does a Personal Injury Case Work?

May 20, 2023 / 9:30 am

Most personal injury cases have three stages: investigation, negotiation and litigation. Often these stages overlap, and many cases are resolved without the need for litigation at all. Here is a brief overview of the work we will do on your behalf at each stage:

Stage 1: Investigation

1. Visit the scene of the accident, at or about the same time of day or night as the accident occurred, to take notes and pictures.
2. Obtain and review your medical records and bills to date, including reports prepared by first responders, emergency room records, and the records of your treating physician.
3. Obtain and review other relevant documents, including police reports, witness statements and statements made by you, if any.
4. Interview witnesses.

Stage 2: Negotiation

1. Contact the insurance company for the person or entity that is responsible for your injuries and discuss the possibility of a settlement.
2. Provide the insurer with documentation of your injuries and economic losses.
3. Send a settlement demand letter.
4. Reject lowball offers and deal with common adjuster stonewalling tactics.

Stage 3: Litigation

Litigation is the process of resolving your claim through the court system. If negotiations stall and litigation becomes necessary, we will:

1. File a lawsuit (a “complaint”), naming all potentially responsible parties (“defendants”) and raising all viable legal claims.
2. Send and respond to written discovery. During a lawsuit, the parties engage in a formal fact-finding process called “discovery.” As part of this process, we will send written interrogatories (questions), requests for documents, and requests for admissions to the defendant. The defendant will serve these same discovery documents on you.
3. Participate in depositions. A deposition is a means of taking oral testimony, under oath. I will depose the defendant and the defense witnesses. When defense counsel takes your deposition, I will be right by your side, to defend your rights.
4. File motions (formal written requests) with the court to try to resolve some issues before trial.
5. Discuss settlement. Settlement negotiations may continue during the litigation process and likely will take on greater urgency as the trial date approaches. These discussions may be informal, between the attorneys, or more formal in nature, with a mediator present.
6. If the case does not settle, we will take it to a jury, and the litigation will culminate with a trial.

Most of this work, especially in stages 1 and 2, will take place behind the scenes. If, at any time, you have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me.