You never want – or expect – a tragedy or accident to occur, but when it does, it helps to understand your rights and courses of action. “The more you know” as they say. Knowing what to expect can help you make better decisions, feel more confident, and feel a little less stressed. So, we’ll lay out the steps of a typical personal injury lawsuit timeline so you can be better prepared in the case of an accident.
First, What Is a Personal Injury Case?
A personal injury case is a legal claim that is filed by an individual who has been injured due to the negligence or intentional act of another person. They can arise from a wide variety of accidents, including:
- Car, truck, or motorcycle accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Dog bites
- Skiing accidents
- On-the-job injuries
- Pedestrian accidents
- Premises liability cases
- Product liability cases
In personal injury cases, there are two main types of damages that can be awarded: economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those that can be easily quantified, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are more difficult to quantify, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.
A Personal Injury Lawsuit Timeline
The steps in a personal injury case can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case, but they typically follow this general process:
Immediately seek medical attention.
After you have been injured, it is important to seek medical care as soon as possible. Beyond ensuring you receive proper and necessary treatment, this will help document your injuries, which will be critical to your case.
Report the accident to the police.
If your injury was caused by an accident, you should report the accident to the police. This will create a record of the accident and prove beneficial if you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Contact an experienced personal injury attorney.
An experienced and trustworthy attorney or law firm (like Doehling Law) can help you understand your legal rights, assess the strength of your case, and develop a sound strategy for pursuing compensation.
During the initial consultation, you can expect an attorney to ask about:
- How the accident happened
- Who was involved and who may be liable
- What injuries were sustained
- What treatment has been received for these injuries and any expected treatments in the future.
Discovery and gathering evidence
Your attorney will need to gather evidence to support your personal injury claim. Discovery is a process by which each party to the lawsuit gathers information and evidence. This evidence may include:
- Medical records
- Accident reports
- Photographs/video of the accident scene
- Witness statements
- Bills and other documentation.
Negotiate a settlement.
The goal of most personal injury cases is to settle out of court. Settlement negotiations typically begin after the discovery process is complete. In a settlement, the defendant agrees to pay the plaintiff a certain amount of money in exchange for the plaintiff dropping the lawsuit. Your attorney will negotiate with the insurance company or the other party to agree upon a satisfactory settlement.
File a lawsuit.
If, however, you cannot reach a settlement, you may need to file a lawsuit. If you decide to file a lawsuit, your attorney will file a complaint with the court which will allege the facts of the accident, the negligence of the other party, and the damages you have suffered.
Go to trial.
If the case does not settle, it will go to trial. At trial, a judge or jury will decide whether the defendant was negligent and, if so, how much money you are entitled to receive.
The timeline for a personal injury case can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case, and it is important to note that personal injury cases can take months or even years to resolve.
Other Considerations for the Personal Injury Case Process
Here are some additional things to keep in mind about the personal injury case process:
The statute of limitations
In most states, there is a statute of limitations for personal injury cases. This means that you have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit after you have been injured. The statute of limitations varies from state to state, so it is important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after an accident. In Colorado and Utah where Doehling Law practices, the statute of limitations is 1-3 years and 2-4 years, respectively.
When you file a personal injury lawsuit, you may be responsible for paying court fees, filing fees, and attorney fees. However, in many cases, the defendant's insurance company will be responsible for paying these costs. At Doehling Law, you don’t pay unless we recover!
If the person who caused your injury has insurance, the insurance company will likely be responsible for paying your damages. However, it is important to note that insurance companies are often reluctant to pay out claims. It is important to have an experienced personal injury attorney who can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.
The attorneys at Doehling Law have insider experience with insurance companies, and we know how they operate. We have effectively pursued and won these types of personal injury cases for years.
Here are some other benefits to working with Doehling Law on your personal injury claim:
- Direct access to an attorney
- Over 60 years of experience
- Local representation in Colorado and Utah
- After-hours and weekend appointments are available
- Spanish consultations available
- Millions of dollars in personal injury recovery