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Most people are not familiar with the personal injury lawsuit process. Why should they be? The last thing anyone expects that they will sustain an injury caused by the careless or negligent actions of another individual or entity.
However, when injury does occur, the prospect of pursuing a personal injury insurance settlement or lawsuit can be daunting. Here, we want to give you a brief overview of the personal injury lawsuit process, but please speak to a skilled personal injury attorney in Orange County, who can help you make the best decisions moving forward for your particular situation.
The first step a personal injury victim needs to take is contacting an attorney. An attorney will be able to help victims through this entire process regardless of whether or not the case will be settled with insurance carriers or through a personal injury lawsuit. Initial consultations with an attorney are usually free, and the attorney can help you determine the best steps moving forward for your case.
Every personal injury case will be investigated by multiple parties. This includes insurance carriers, but it also includes your attorney. Various types of evidence will need to be gathered in order to prove liability. Though each case is different, some of the most common types of evidence an attorney will be working to obtain includes accident reports, photographs from the scene, possible video surveillance, statements from eyewitnesses, and more.
After an attorney gathers all the evidence needed to prove liability, they still need to make sure that they have a thorough understanding of the total losses the victim has sustained. This may take some time to realize because the injury victim needs to reach maximum medical improvement before an attorney can seek compensation on their behalf. An attorney will send a demand letter to the insurance carriers involved asking for payment for all of the client’s losses.
If the insurance carrier involved refuses to offer a fair settlement or denies a claim altogether, it will be necessary for an attorney to file a personal injury lawsuit. An attorney will handle all the paperwork necessary to get the lawsuit started.
The personal injury lawsuit will enter the discovery phase after it is filed. During the discovery phase, both parties will continue to investigate the incident and exchange evidence with one another as they evaluate every aspect of the case. It is not uncommon for one or both parties to realize that a settlement is inevitable or that there is no viable case at this point.
If the two parties cannot reach an agreement in this process, a judge may order mediation. When this occurs, a neutral third party will act as a mediator and attempt to reach a resolution before a trial becomes necessary. If an agreement is reached, the case will be over with.
If negotiations and mediation are not successful, it may be necessary to move forward to a trial by jury. In these cases, the attorneys for the plaintiff and the defendant will present their case to the jury, and the jury will make a decision about whether or not the defendant caused the plaintiff’s injuries. The jury will also determine the compensation amount if they find that the defendant did cause the injuries.
After a jury returns the verdict, the losing party may choose to appeal the decision. The appellate process in these situations is different than the traditional trial process, and an injury victim will want to continue working with an attorney if appeals are inevitable.