People can suffer injuries during an accident in countless ways, but the critical point is to decide whether to file a claim for compensation under the personal injury laws. Personal injury laws cover many accidents that injure people. Still, only a personal injury lawyer can decide if you have a solid case to recover the financial costs of damages and injuries. There is no fixed timeline for the settlement of personal injury cases because each case is unique, and the legal processes can be pretty complicated depending on the situation and circumstances. Even if you are filing a personal injury compensation claim for the first time or may have already gone through the process earlier, you know very well that the next right step is to contact a car accident attorney in West Covina.
Personal injury lawyers are specialists in their rights in the types of accident cases they deal in. Besides complying with the legal process, they can develop the right strategies to fight the case to ensure a positive outcome. In personal injury cases, there is no room for trial and error. The lawyer must make the correct assessments and line up the resources that help support the case and drive it towards a favorable conclusion. Rarely do personal cases end up in trials as most settlements happen at the level of the insurance settlers unless the claim amount is too high or the case is too complex or involves some heavyweight personalities.
The pretrial procedures of every state are different for personal injury cases, and to get to trial generally takes about one to two years. It is critical to file the lawsuits within the statute of limitation set by each state which specifies the deadlines for filing. Despite engaging a personal injury lawyer to handle your case, you must be aware of the various steps involved so that you can cross-check if the lawyer follows all steps without leaving anything to chance.
Seek medical treatment
Soon after an accident, saving lives is the top concern for all those involved because it is impossible to assess the impact of the injuries immediately. While it is easy to figure out the external damages, it is impossible to comprehend the internal injuries that might not show any outward signs. Even if people do not display any apparent injuries, everyone affected by the accident should undergo a preliminary medical examination. Seeking medical assistance soon after an accident is the first task of the victims. They can seek help from others for some immediate first-aid on the spot and arrange for taking the victims to the emergency room of the nearest medical center. Sometimes the initial shock of the accident causes temporary mental disorientation that prevents the victims from realizing the true impact of the accident and the seriousness of the injuries.
Seeking medical treatment immediately is also a legal prerequisite to building a case for personal injury. The medical records help to prove that the injuries happened due to the accident. In the absence of immediate medical care, the defendant might use it as a plea to establish that the injuries were not at all severe and nullify the compensation claim.
Consult a personal injury lawyer
Assuming that the injuries are severe enough and involve much medical treatment, which can continue for some time, you should look for a personal injury lawyer experienced in handling similar cases. You can entrust your case for claiming compensation. Since the process of filing a claim involves various legal strategies, only a lawyer can address all the aspects satisfactorily to protect their client’s interests to the fullest. From filing the claim within the specified time to arranging for witnesses and evidence and overseeing the medical treatment to avoid lapses and ensure a speedy recovery, the lawyer becomes your friend, philosopher, and guide in all matters about the case until you obtain fair compensation. Only the lawyer can handle all complexities that may arise as the case progresses because things might turn out more complicated than you thought.
Setting up a claim
Filing claims for compensation would mean communicating and interacting with many people besides the parties involved in the accident. When you decide to file a compensation claim, you must inform the offending party who you hold responsible for the accident about your intention of filing a claim and even notify their insurance provider about the same. The approach is often helpful to settle claims quickly.
Keep gathering information about the medical treatment
While undergoing medical treatment, you must keep gathering as much information as possible that helps to strengthen the case. All such information should help establish the seriousness of the injuries and other damages and even prove the other party’s negligence. Unless you can prove with ample evidence that the offending party or the accused or the defendant failed to discharge the duty of care or was negligent and careless that caused the accident, you will never get the compensation.
Besides gathering all information about the medical treatment captured in the medical records and the bills for hospital expenses, cost of surgeries, and other medical procedures, tests, and medications, ask the doctor about the possibilities of continuing treatment after recovery to regain normalcy. In addition, get estimates about repairing the damaged vehicle or any other personal property affected by an accident. Make a list of other financial losses undergone during treatment and beyond, like loss of wages.
Negotiating a settlement
Your attorney decides whether to make a demand for compensation with the defendant or their insurance company. There is ample evidence to prove that the negligence or fault of the defendant caused the accident that resulted in the injuries. It is crucial to establish that none of the injuries stated in the claim existed before the accident. The size of the claim determines if it is worth settling at the level of the insurers or it would be better to file a lawsuit that takes much longer time for settlement.
Negotiating personal injury claims with insurance companies is unlike any other commercial negotiation. Each party is aware of the real worth of the claim. Despite making tall claims, the plaintiff or claimant knows very well the point of settlement that would be acceptable by all reasonable accounts without paying anything from the pocket. On the other hand, the defendant and their insurance company would be eager to pay as little as possible, even if it means ignoring the reality by using their negotiation skills to reach a lower settlement. However, neither party knows what the other party is thinking. The settlement process goes through several rounds of negotiations between the lawyers of the plaintiff and defendant that entails a lot of back and forth movements as offers and counteroffers keep coming up until good sense prevails. The issue settled to the satisfaction of the claimant.
If the claimant is happy with the settlement, it indicates the conclusion of the case. However, dissatisfied claimants might prepare to wage a fresh battle in the court, and the case goes for trial. Once again, the lawyer can advise about the pros and cons of the case is taken forward, and you must decide if it is worth spending more time and money hoping for a better settlement.
Reaching a settlement or filing a lawsuit
If you are happy with the outcome of the negotiations, then you have reached a settlement that is acceptable to you and your attorney. However, if the settlement offer falls short of your expectations or the defendant fails to keep the commitment, and there is no sign of any further improvement as negotiations might have reached a dead end. In the next step, you must file a lawsuit and prepare to face trial. Lawsuits are your last recourse but without any guarantee of the kind of outcome. However, the expertise of your lawyer in handling such lawsuits successfully can prove beneficial for you. It all depends on the court proceedings and how efficiently your lawyer navigates the legal course to drive the case in your favor.
Your lawyer can advise you about the time available for filing the lawsuit by complying with the statute of limitations which is the deadline for filing a case. Failing to meet the deadline will bar you forever from making any further moves about the claim. Moreover, you cm file your claim once only with no scope or any additional filings.
Although it is good to be optimistic about settling your claim by the insurance settlers, the scenes might not play out as expected. It is always better to stay prepared for filing a lawsuit if the situation demands and you feel denied of your rightful claim. Keeping this in mind, engage a personal injury lawyer who has a good track record of winning lawsuits for the clients so that you can walk the extra mile to get the proper compensation.