We have compiled a timeline of the common steps in a personal injury case. While every case is different, many personal injury cases take months or years to resolve. Keep in mind that it is typical for most personal injury cases to settle before going to trial, so you may not necessarily reach every stage as outlined here.
Table of Contents
- Seek Medical Treatment
- Meet with an Attorney
- Exploratory Investigation
- Determination to Accept or Refuse Case
- Investigation of Your Claim
- Demands and Negotiations
- File a Lawsuit
- Mediation and Negotiation (Settlement)
Seek Medical Treatment
First, things first – if you are hurt from an accident and need medical treatment, you should get the help you need, whether it’s going straight to the emergency room or making an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. Your health is the most important priority and you should always do what is necessary to get treatment caused in a crash, medical malpractice, or injuries caused by others’ negligence. Getting the best care is critical and is always the biggest priority whether there is a case for a lawsuit or not.
File a Police Report
After you’ve addressed your medical concerns, you should ensure a police report of your accident has been filed. This report and the medical report you receive from your doctor are two of the most crucial documents for building your case. Once you have obtained your medical and police reports, you should contact an attorney.
Meet With a Personal Injury Attorney
After seeking treatment, consult a personal injury lawyer to discuss your particular situation and your injury. When you get in touch with Crosby Law, we will first collect some basic information about you and your case, which is reviewed by an attorney.
Crosby Law offers a free 15-30 minute consultation with an attorney. This will not cost you anything, so you have nothing to lose by reaching out to us.
If, after the initial consultation, it appears that the plaintiff might have a case, the attorney may agree to conduct an initial exploratory investigation to examine your case in more detail.
At this point, the attorney will review your medical records and the bills you incurred from the injury. Crosby Law works with its skilled network of doctors, professionals and other experts to help analyze the evidence and make a determination about your case.
Once all relevant information and medical records have been reviewed, the attorney will decide whether or not they can take the case. If your case is refused, it does not mean your case lacks merit, only that we believe we could not be successful in taking on your case. We encourage you to reach out to other law firms before the statute of limitations expires.
If the attorney accepts your case, this is the point when you actually hire the attorney and sign into an agreement to make the attorney-client relationship official.
Investigation of Your Claim
To investigate your claim, your lawyer will need all available information about your case. Be prepared to talk and answer questions about your injury, what the cause was, and the medical treatment you sought out and received. At this point, we may also need to gather more documents, medical records and first person testimony.
This stage of the process can take several months.
Demands and Negotiations
After thoroughly investigating your claim, your lawyer will then consider what demands can be made of your case in regard to lawsuits and settlements. Minor personal injury cases may settle before the lawsuit ever goes to trial. Your lawyer may send a letter of demands to the other attorney or the other party’s insurance company if they think your case can be settled.
[Could include information about maximum medical improvement here? I.e. Plaintiff should reach MMI before demands are made.]
If the settlement is not reached and the two sides can’t come to an agreement, the case will then transition into the litigation phase.
Filing a Lawsuit
Your case will enter a litigation phase once you and your lawyer file a personal injury lawsuit in court. Normally, it takes approximately 1 to 2 years for a personal injury case to reach trial. Each state has its own time constraints to file a lawsuit in civil court after an injury occurs, based on its statute of limitations. In Minnesota, the limit is two years, and the clock starts running on the date of the injury.
The discovery phase is the time when each party will investigate the other side’s legal claims, asking each other questions and requesting documents. This stage also includes the collection of depositions from experts and witnesses whose experience is relevant to the case. Depending on the needs and intricacies of the case, discovery may also take a substantial amount of time, lasting from six months to a year.
Mediation and Negotiation (Settlement)
After the stage of discovery comes to a close, it is time to discuss the settlement. If both sides are unable to come to an agreement, they will move into mediation. Mediation is a process in which both parties will seek the guidance from a third, unbiased party who will “mediate” the case with the aim of finally coming to a resolution.
If mediation is successful, the case ends then and there. If not, the case would proceed to trial.
Finally, if mediation is not successful, the case will go to trial in court. Most cases typically do not reach trial, as mediation works to resolve the case. Personal injury trials can last anywhere from a day to a week, or longer.
Contact Us Today
If you are seeking legal assistance for your own personal injury case, Crosby Law may be able to help you get the compensation and justice you deserve.
For a free consultation with an experienced Personal Injury Attorney, contact Crosby Law Office today.