We at Tourtlotte Law in the Billings, Montana area handle many personal injury cases every year. One of the most difficult things for you, as a client, in this process is understanding what is going on and what will be happening next. To help you with this, below are the eight major steps that go into a personal injury case.
Before any legal action is taken, it is critical that you get medical treatment. Not only is this important for obvious health reasons but putting off getting treatment leads the judge and the jury to think that you weren’t seriously injured aren’t justified in your personal injury claim.
For anything larger than a small claim, you will need a lawyer to help you through the process. Even with small claims, a lawyer is beneficial, however. The sooner you hire an attorney the better as personal injury cases can drag out for a long time.
The first thing your lawyer will do is examine the details surrounding your case. Your lawyer needs to know everything about the accident and doesn’t want any surprises. Thus, you need to be totally open and honest with your lawyer about everything that happened. At this point, your lawyer will be able to really see how strong of a case you have.
Most personal injury claims are settled before ever going to a trial. Thus, this step is a critically important part of the process. Your lawyer will make demands to other attorney or insurance company seeking to get you the best deal possible. Both sides will go back and forth on a deal. If they agree upon one, the case will settle stopping the process here as you are rewarded your settlement.
If an agreement is not made in the pre-trial stage then your lawyer will file a lawsuit. This starts the clock running on when you case will go to trial. The system is fairly slow so it usually takes a personal injury somewhere between one and two years to finally get to trial. Remember that a lawsuit must be filed within the timeframe given in the statute of limitation for the state you live in.
Discovery is a legal term that basically means the process during which both sides of the case investigate the claims of the other party to understand what their legal claims and defenses will be. Depending on the court’s deadlines and the complexity of you case this process usually takes somewhere between six months and a year.
Once the discovery period ends, there is one more opportunity for your case to settle in the mediation and negotiation stage. Mediation is the process in which the clients and lawyers go in front of a mediator to try and reach a settlement for the case.
Last of all is the trial stage. This is where everything in this entire process comes to a head. Hopefully, a favorable ruling will be coming your way at the culmination of the trial!
This step-by-step process of a personal injury is very compact and generalized. Even so, it is still a lot of information to take in. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed in this complex and drawn out process. Hire an attorney that will represent you well and help you gain the compensation you deserve. At Tourtlotte Law Firm in the Billings, Montana area our specialized attorneys are here to help you do exactly that.