The Life of a Personal Injury Case
When you are in a car wreck, the most important thing is to make sure that you get checked out by a medical professional and find the treatment you need to get better. If you hire a personal injury lawyer, here’s an general overview of how a case works (but every case, including yours, is unique).
After you meet with your attorney and sign paperwork, the attorney sends a letter of representation to the driver who caused the wreck and/or their insurance company and talks to them.
Your attorney investigates the facts of the case. If there is a dispute about who is at fault, your attorney must immediately begin to gather evidence in your favor.
As you rehabilitate your injuries, your attorney checks in with you regularly to understand what pain you are suffering, and helps you find the right medical treatment.
Your attorney also gathers evidence such as documents to show your lost wages, medical bills, medical records, photographs, and more.
When you have completed your medical treatment and your attorney has gathered all the evidence to support your case, they will send a demand package (a letter and supporting documents) to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If you are seriously injured and will need ongoing care, your attorney can send a demand showing what future treatment you will need.
When the at-fault driver’s insurance company receives a demand package, which can often be several hundred pages, they require time to review it. A good attorney will stay in touch with the at-fault driver’s insurance company to insist they make your case a top priority.
When the demand is due, the at-fault driver’s insurance company may make a settlement offer or ask for more information. Your attorney should be ready to act.
Your attorney must share any offers of settlement with you and discuss whether it is fair. They can try to informally negotiate a new offer or gather new evidence.
If you accept a settlement offer, then your attorney helps you make sure that your medical bills are paid, that the settlement funds are properly handled, and that you get your money as quickly as possible. Once you accept a settlement offer, you can’t undo it and ask for more money later.
Sometimes even after negotiating, the settlement offer the at-fault driver’s insurance makes is too low. When that happens, your attorney may discuss filing a lawsuit with you. Filing a lawsuit brings your case before the Superior Court of California. Lawsuits often result in settlements, and in special cases may require demanding justice in front of a jury. It’s essential you trust your attorney to discuss the risks of going to court.
The amount of time involved in each step above depends on the type of case, your injuries, delays in the courts, and many other factors. Your attorney should push to resolve your case as quickly as possible, but it is worth putting in the time to fight for a just result.