Just about any accident can result in debilitating injuries – or worse. Victims often face pain and uncertainty and don’t know what will happen next or how to obtain compensation for their medical bills and other expenses.
The attorneys with Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh would like to share information on how the typical personal injury case proceeds. We’ll do everything we can to maximize your compensation, just as we’ve done for many other clients through the years.
The Accident or Injury Occurs
Accidents are terrifying as well as painful, and they can leave a victim in a haze, unsure of what to do. Once an accident occurs, whether a car accident, truck accident, slip and fall, or anything else, the victim needs to clear their mind and take action.
Seek Medical Attention
The first priority after an accident, of course, is getting medical help. It’s surprising how many people don’t do so. They’re experiencing so much adrenaline that they feel normal, and it’s only after the adrenaline subsides that they realize something is seriously wrong.
If you haven’t sought medical help, please do so immediately. You could have a severe injury that needs attention; otherwise, it could worsen, so you might not recover completely.
But seeing a doctor isn’t just crucial for your health. Failing to get medical help will give the insurance company the necessary ammunition to deny your claim. They will argue you weren’t that badly hurt – if you were injured at all. If they’re successful, you won’t obtain the compensation you deserve.
Consult an Attorney
Speaking with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible will be as important as seeing a doctor. Many people hesitate to talk to an attorney because they fear it will cost them too much money. But at Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh, we operate on a contingency fee basis. You won’t pay a dime unless we win your case, and you’ll have nothing to lose.
Investigates Claim and Medical Records
Your attorney will then investigate the accident to find out how it happened and who’s to blame. They’ll gather the evidence it will take to make your case its strongest and then collect proof of your damages or financial losses. Your lawyer will obtain your medical records to determine the extent of your treatment and what it will cost. They’ll also get your pay stubs to show how much money you’ll lose because you can’t work.
File an Insurance Claim or Demand a Settlement
Next, your legal representative will help you file claims with your insurance and the carrier of the at-fault parties. There could be multiple parties to blame, each with its own insurer.
While you’d like to think insurance companies would do what’s right and approve your claim, that usually doesn’t happen. Your attorney will likely have to negotiate to get what you deserve.
The Lawsuit is Filed
Your attorney will recommend filing a lawsuit if the insurer refuses to offer a fair settlement. Unfortunately, insurance companies typically won’t start negotiating in good faith until this happens. Your legal representative will file what’s known as a “Complaint.” Once the defendant receives the complaint, they’ll usually have to file an answer within 20 days.
Discovery in a personal injury case refers to both sides, the plaintiff (you) and the defendant investigating the accident. The defendant’s attorney will likely want to ask you a lot of questions about the accident, your medical history and more. Never agree to speak with them unless you have your attorney present.
Mediation and/or Arbitration
Once the parties obtain the necessary information, the case will go through either mediation or arbitration to reach a fair settlement.
If both sides choose mediation (usually what happens), they’ll meet with a mediator approved by your lawyer and the defendant’s legal representative. The mediator is neutral, with no personal interest in how the case comes out.
The mediator doesn’t decide the case – they try to help with settlement negotiations. Those negotiations will typically lead to a settlement. When they don’t, the dispute has to go to trial.
Arbitration is different from mediation. When the defendant and plaintiff choose this route, they present their cases to a neutral third party. Unlike mediation, however, the third party decides the outcome, and their decision is final.
The vast majority of cases never have to go to trial because both sides eventually agree to an equitable settlement. This settlement may occur through negotiations or one of the two dispute resolution methods mentioned above.
Once it happens, the case ends. The defendant’s insurer writes a check to the plaintiff’s attorney, who then takes out their percentage. If you received medical care with the promise you’d pay out of what you receive in a settlement, your attorney will take care of that payment.
You’ll then receive a check for whatever’s left over. There’s no set time frame for this, but it will take anywhere from two to six weeks in most instances.
But what if that settlement doesn’t materialize? If that happens, the case goes to trial. Some trials conclude in hours. Others can take months to complete.
During a trial, the attorneys for the plaintiff and defendant present their cases using the information gathered during the discovery phase that was mentioned earlier. A jury will then decide the case based on the evidence provided.
Contact Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh to Learn More
Once you decide to take legal action, you need to know there are no shortcuts. No reputable attorney will ever promise you’ll win a certain amount of money unless they have all the facts of your case.
A Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh personal injury lawyer can provide much more information regarding how your case will likely unfold. We can also tell you how we’ll go about helping you obtain the compensation you have coming. Schedule a free consultation by calling or contacting us online.