Personal injury cases follow a process, just like anything else in the legal world. Whether you’re suffering from a slip and fall, a car accident, or any other kind of injury, it’s helpful to know how your personal injury case will be handled. In most instances, it will take just seven main steps.
The 7 Steps of Handling a Personal Injury Case
While all personal injury cases have certain elements that make them unique, they tend to generally follow the same pattern. You can review how a case typically plays out to know what to expect.
1. The Injury or Accident
Every injury happens differently, and depending on how severe it is, you may or may not be taken to the hospital immediately by an ambulance. However, if you don’t need emergency medical attention, your injury case really starts at the scene itself. This is your chance to take pictures, talk to witnesses, and inform the property owner or call the police as needed.
2. Medical Attention
Without some kind of treatment and medical documentation, there really is no personal injury case. That means it’s essential to go to the doctor even if you do not need emergency help. Doing so can help both your own well-being and your injury claim.
3. Your Initial Consultation With an Attorney
Whether you intend to hire a lawyer or not, talking to an attorney is one of the most valuable things you can do. You may find out that the insurance company’s initial offer is fair, or you may find out you have a right to much more. You’ll also get a clear sense of whether you have a valid injury case at all, along with the steps ahead for which you must make a plan.
At John Foy & Associates, we offer this consultation for free, allowing you to get a legal opinion with no risk.
If you do choose to hire a lawyer, they will begin the process of investigating your injury and building a case. Of course, you may already know what happened and who’s at fault. However, the investigation can turn up crucial evidence to prove your case.
This evidence could include anything from security camera footage or maintenance records in a premises liability case to witness statements or forensic work in a vehicle accident. This is how personal injury cases are won.
5. Filing an Insurance Claim
Next, you or your lawyer will need to officially file a claim with the insurer, if you haven’t already. In many cases, you will also send a legal letter that demands a settlement, with a specific dollar amount attached. This is how you move past the insurer’s initial offer and start working to get the full amount you deserve under the law.
6. Negotiating a Settlement
The majority of personal injury cases come down to negotiation. Your attorney draws on all the evidence they’ve built and their sense of how your case would do at trial and pushes the insurer to make a more reasonable settlement offer. In many cases, they will eventually offer you a fair amount.
Although it’s less common, some personal injury cases do proceed to trial. In Georgia, these cases are decided by a jury, and the amount of money awarded (if any) may be higher or lower than what you originally expected. There is no one answer to whether it’s better to accept a settlement or go to trial. It depends on the strength of your case, among other factors.
Not every case will follow these exact steps, and there are plenty of other legal processes involved in many of them. However, in general, this is how a personal case gets handled, from start to finish. Many will end without going through all seven steps as the insurer makes an offer you can accept or new information emerges in your case.
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The Cost of Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
The best tool in securing the compensation you deserve after suffering an injury is an experienced personal injury lawyer. Unfortunately, many people neglect to hire an attorney because they think the cost of doing so will be too high.
However, the good news is that you will never pay a personal injury lawyer a penny out of pocket. Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. That means that they only collect a fee if they are able to win you money.
When you do receive compensation, your attorney will get their fee as a prearranged percentage of your payout. With this payment method, it is in your lawyer’s best interest to ensure you get as much money as possible, because the more you receive, the higher their payday becomes.
Make Sure to File Your Lawsuit Before Time Runs Out
When filing a lawsuit for a personal injury, you must act quickly. Delays can end up negating your right to compensation. In Georgia, accident victims typically have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit and recover damages.
However, in certain personal injury cases, such as when the party against whom you are filing your lawsuit is a government agency, that timeframe can be significantly reduced.
By hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident, you can help ensure that you retain your right to compensation. Your attorney will review your case and file all necessary paperwork on time so that no deadlines end up derailing your lawsuit.
How to Get the Personal Injury Outcome You Deserve
There is no better way to ensure your rights are protected or to get the full amount of money you deserve than to have an experienced lawyer at your side. Let the attorneys of John Foy & Associates help you. We have over 20 years of experience handling personal injury cases in Georgia, and we get results.
Let us give you a free consultation to walk you through your case. Fill out the form to your right or call us to get in touch with us today.