After you are injured in a car accident, truck accident, slip and fall, or medical malpractice incident, you may decide to seek compensation for your losses. Personal injury incidents can make a huge impact on your life and finances. You may incur expensive medical bills, lose months of wages, and suffer other losses. If someone else’s negligence harmed you, you may have a right to receive compensation for these losses. However, you will likely wonder how long the case is expected to take.
In this article, WGK Personal Injury Lawyers explains the general steps involved in a personal injury case. Every case is different, so not all of the steps may apply to your particular case. However, our goal is always to move your case through as expeditiously as possible while retaining your right to maximum compensation.
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Personal injury cases are usually based on some type of accident occurring. By “accident,” we mean that the defendant did not mean to harm you. This does not mean the defendant does not owe you compensation for losses caused by their negligence.
Usually, a personal injury case starts when some type of accident injures the victim, such as a car accident or slip and fall.
At the scene of the accident, there may be evidence that you need to collect that can have a big impact on your claim.
The accident scene may be quickly cleaned up so that it does not pose a hazard to others, so it is essential to preserve as much evidence as possible, including:
- The accident report after law enforcement or the party responsible for the property prepares it
- Pictures of the accident scene, your injuries, and any conditions that might have contributed to it
- The responsible party’s contact and insurance information
- Contact information for any witnesses
- Notes you prepare while your memory is fresh, such as store conditions where you fell, a summary of how the accident occurred, or the presence of traffic cameras
Seeking Medical Attention
It is critical to protect your health and your claim to seek medical attention immediately after an accident. If you know you were injured at the scene of the accident, you can request an ambulance there. However, not all injuries are immediately apparent. Some may take a few hours or days to start exhibiting symptoms. Seek medical attention quickly so that you can receive a proper diagnosis of your injuries, begin receiving treatment for them, and connect them to the accident.
Be detailed in your explanation of your injuries and symptoms so they can be properly documented in your medical records. Continue seeking necessary medical care as long as you are continuing to experience symptoms. Follow your doctor’s orders.
Making A Claim For Personal Injury Protection Benefits
In Maryland, auto insurers are required to offer personal injury protection (PIP) of at least $2,500 to cover:
- All reasonable and necessary medical expenses incurred within three years of the injury
- 85% of lost wages the accident victim incurred
- Reasonable and necessary expenses to provide for essential services the victim would have provided to their family or household if they are not employed outside the household
There is a one-year statute of limitations on making a PIP claim, so you do not want to delay making this type of claim. PIP provides benefits regardless of who was at fault for the accident.
Consulting A Personal Injury Attorney
The sooner you involve a personal injury attorney in the process, the sooner you can hand off the worries and logistics to a seasoned professional. Attorneys can begin taking steps at the beginning of your case to protect your rights, such as recommending that you not provide a recorded statement to the at-fault party’s insurance company.
They can also take steps to maximize the potential compensation you can recover by preserving evidence and working closely with your medical team to understand the full extent of your injuries.
Our personal injury attorneys work on a contingency-fee basis, so you don’t have to worry about paying any costs upfront. You don’t pay for our services unless we are able to recover compensation on your behalf.
Your lawyer will want to conduct a thorough investigation to uncover evidence of fault. Your lawyer can review the evidence you have collected so far. They can also identify if there is other evidence that needs to be preserved. Your lawyer can also request your medical records and review them closely.
After your lawyer has assembled evidence and determined the full extent of your damages, they may prepare a demand letter to the insurance company. This letter outlines information such as:
- How the accident occurred
- Why the defendant is legally responsible for the accident
- The damages the victim suffered
The insurance company may respond to the demand by offering a lower amount of compensation.
Your attorney and the insurance adjuster may go back and forth several times before they agree on a settlement amount. Your lawyer will also provide information about the pros and cons of settling your case.
The pros may include:
- Certainty because you know the amount of compensation you will receive
- A faster resolution so you can get the money you need to pay off medical bills and make up for lost income
- A resolution of the case so that you no longer have to worry about the personal injury case
However, there are some drawbacks to taking a settlement, such as possibly accepting a lower settlement amount than you would have received in court. You will also miss out on the opportunity to publicly expose the defendant for their careless actions if you accept a settlement.
Filing A Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you do not agree to a settlement, your lawyer can file a complaint. Maryland has a three-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims, so you must file a lawsuit before this point to preserve your right to recover compensation in court for the losses you incurred.
After the complaint is filed and the defendant is served, the defendant has 30 days to respond to the lawsuit.
The next phase of the case is discovery. This is the process of gathering and exchanging information about the case. This process may consist of the following:
- Requesting documents and other evidence that may be presented at court
- Identifying expert witnesses who may testify at court
- Conducting depositions on parties and witnesses to ask about the accident and the legal claims
- Subpoenaing third parties for information they may have about the case
- Answering questions about the accident and the legal claims
- Making admissions or denials about the legal claims
Your lawyer can discuss which steps are necessary and calculated to provide the most useful information for your case.
It is important to understand that the parties can still agree to settle their case at any point, even after a lawsuit has been filed or even just before a judge or jury reaches a verdict. The lawyers may continue negotiations throughout the process.
If you have not resolved your case, it will proceed to trial. During the trial, evidence and testimony is presented for both sides. At the conclusion, the judge or jury renders a verdict. If the court finds in your favor, it will determine how much compensation to award you.
Contact An Experienced Lawyer For Help Today
If you were injured in a personal injury accident, it is important you understand your legal rights and options. WGK Personal Injury Lawyers can help guide you through the process of filing a claim. We can review your case during a free consultation and explain its potential timeline. Contact us today at (410) 837-2144 to get started.