What Are the Stages of a Fairfax VA Personal Injury Lawsuit?
For many who have been injured in an accident, the hardest part is getting started on a personal injury claim. Because of this, it is imperative that you seek the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer right away who can help you understand the personal injury process and your place in it. Your attorney will advise you on what you need to do and determine the value of your case so that you can take the appropriate course of action. The following are stages of a Fairfax VA personal injury lawsuit and the steps needed to proceed with your case.
Step 1: Determine Whether You Have a Case At All
If you are involved in an accident or injured by the wrong of another, the first thing you need to determine is whether you have a Fairfax VA personal injury lawsuit. The answer depends on who was at fault in the case and whether you sustained any injuries. If your injuries were the result of weather or a freak accident, this lessens the chances of financial recovery. However, if you were injured as a result of a drunk driver running a red light and hitting your car, the liability is pretty clear. It is important that you speak with your personal injury attorney to review the merits of your case.
Step 2: Get Medical Treatment
It is important that you seek medical treatment immediately following the accident. This is true even if you are not experiencing pain or discomfort or do not think that you are injured. Injuries often take time to manifest. Getting a diagnosis and treatment early on could save you a lot of time, expense, and discomfort, as well as time off work and additional medical visits.
Additionally, if you do not seek medical treatment, the opposing party could use this as evidence to suggest that you were not injured at all. Be sure to speak only to your attorney and your doctor about your injuries. Both your attorney and your doctor have a duty of confidentiality; your friends, relatives, and other witnesses, do not.
Step 3: Hire a Lawyer Who Best Fits Your Needs
You should choose a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. A good personal injury lawyer can help you determine whether you have a Fairfax VA personal injury lawsuit at all, discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and advise you on how much your case may be worth and how to receive compensation for your injuries. Your lawyer can also negotiate with insurance carriers, opposing parties and their lawyers, and take your case to trial if necessary.
Step 4: Investigate the Claim and Review Medical Records
One of the first things your lawyer will do is investigate your claim. This includes reviewing the scene of the accident, examining photos, questioning witnesses, and determining what other evidence is needed to present your case to obtain a settlement or take your case to trial. Make sure to tell your lawyer all of the details of your case so that he can value your Fairfax VA personal injury lawsuit properly.
This part of the process will also involve a thorough review of your medical history and medical records, as well as an assessment of your injuries. Your lawyer will use these records to see if you needed time off work and had loss of wages, which could add value to your case. It is important that you fully cooperate with your attorney during this investigation. This will include signing releases for medical records, following your doctor’s advice, and documenting your claim, which involves keeping receipts, medical records, evidence of time off work, and any expenses related to your Fairfax VA personal injury lawsuit.
Step 5: Settlement Demand
This is the process wherein your lawyer places a value on your case and makes a demand to the opposing party and their insurance carriers. Your lawyer and the insurance adjuster (and later the insurance defense attorney) will negotiate the value of your Fairfax VA personal injury lawsuit. Your lawyer will notify you of any settlement offers, but the choice as to whether or not to settle a case is yours.
Step 6: File a Lawsuit If Necessary
Not all cases settle right away, or at all. There is a deadline or a statute of limitations in which to file a lawsuit. If you fail to file in a timely manner, it could cause you to lose your legal rights in a lawsuit. Thus, it is important that you take your attorney’s advice, do not wait until the last day to consult with a lawyer. It usually takes a year or two for a case to get to trial after it is filed. Negotiations can continue during this time.
Step 7: The Discovery Process
This is the information-gathering process for all of the parties involved in a Fairfax VA personal injury lawsuit. The parties subpoena records, conduct depositions, and ask each other questions about the case and for relevant documents. This process usually lasts six to eighteen months depending on the facts of the case and issues involved.
It is important that you are responsive to your lawyer during this process. For example, if your lawyer’s office wants to know when you are available for a deposition, be sure to let your client know your available dates.
Step 8: Mediation and Negotiation
Mediation is the formal negotiation process. You and the insurance company select a neutral third party, a mediator, who attempts to bring both parties together during settlement negotiations. It is often less expensive to settle a case than to bring it to trial, regardless of which party is at fault. Therefore, a litigant will often choose to settle a Fairfax VA personal injury lawsuit rather than bring the case to trial.
Mediators have no court powers to issue orders. They are usually either lawyers or retired judges, and are only authorized to help the parties negotiate a settlement. In mediation and settlement negotiations, reaching an agreement is voluntary. You cannot be compelled or ordered to settle your case by a mediator or by any judge. It is a different story if the case goes to trial.
Step 9: Trial
If your Fairfax VA personal injury lawsuit does not settle your case, a judge will set it for trial. A personal injury trial can last a day, a week or a month or longer. The actual duration of a trial depends on the issues involved, the evidence to be presented, how long it takes to choose a jury, and whether experts are involved. Both parties present their evidence and the jury decides who wins.
Speak to a Fairfax VA Personal Injury Lawsuit Attorney Today
It is important to understand the stages of a Fairfax VA personal injury lawsuit in order to make sure you achieve the best result possible. Call our offices today to speak to our team of specialists and experts, and get started on the road to recovery.