10 Crucial Stages of a Car Accident Lawsuit
It’s a sad fact that nine people die and more than 1,000 are injured every day because of a distracted driver. If you have been injured in an accident due to a distracted driver, then you may have a case for a car accident lawsuit.
This can seem like a confusing and scary time. After all, you’re dealing with injuries, vehicle damage, and insurance companies. The best thing to do is to be prepared.
If you are injured in an accident, follow these ten steps for your recovery.
1. Initial Investigation
Your first priority at the scene of the accident should be to make sure that everyone is ok or gets the medical treatment they need. Once this is taken care of, try to do some initial evidence gathering.
Take pictures of the scene, the damaged vehicles, and get any witness information. This will put you one step ahead later on.
The police may take pictures, but don’t depend on these. Taking your own ensures that you have evidence of everything from where the debris ended up to where the cars are located.
2. Treat Your Injuries
Getting the medical treatment you need is the only way to get your life back on track as quickly as possible. It is also vital because some states, such as Florida, have laws about when you need to seek treatment. For instance, in Florida, you need to seek medical treatment within ten days of your accident.
Make sure you continue to receive treatment. Insurance companies will view any gaps as a sign that you are healing and getting better.
3. File a Claim
In the days following your accident, you need to file a claim with your insurance company. Even if the accident was not your fault, you still need to notify your insurance company. Some states are no-fault states, which means that the insurance companies share the cost regardless of fault.
Do not provide the at-fault driver’s insurance company with a statement. Do not accept their nominal settlement offering.
4. Attorney Consultation
Now is the time to start looking for an attorney. Bring your claim information and initial evidence that you gathered at the scene of the accident. You want to find an attorney who has experience representing plaintiffs in an auto accident lawsuit.
To make sure you have the right attorney, you need to make sure you feel comfortable with them and confident in their abilities. Make sure they have experience in representing plaintiffs with similar accidents and injuries.
5. Medical and Liability Investigation
Once you secure an attorney, they will begin to investigate. They will start with the evidence you gathered. They will then go further by contacting your witnesses, getting a police report, and keeping up to date with your doctors.
6. Settlement Demand
Once your attorney has all of the information, they will make a settlement demand to the insurance company. Sometimes the insurance company will make the first offer. This is usually a back and forth situation.
7. Settlement or Lawsuit
Once your attorney is done negotiating with the insurance company, they will present you with a final offer. It is now your choice whether you accept it or not. If you choose not to accept the offer, then you will need to file a lawsuit to recover compensation.
Keep in mind that insurance companies know that most people don’t want to file a lawsuit and would rather settle. An experienced attorney will be able to guide you towards a decision by explaining the possible outcomes if you choose to file a lawsuit.
If you decide to reject the final settlement offer and file a lawsuit, then discovery will begin. This is when your team of attorneys and the insurance company will dig deeper into who you are and your background.
This process will include interrogatories, depositions, and requests for documents. These documents could be anything from photos taken at the scene, to police reports, witness statements, and medical records.
Before you can go to trial, mediation will take place. This is where a neutral third party will sit down with the parties. The goal of this phase is to promote a settlement and avoid going to trial.
Unlike the movies, you are typically in one room with your attorney will the other party is in another room. The mediator will move between the two rooms to hear each side and determine a settlement amount.
If mediation fails, then the case will proceed to trial. Be prepared for this to take a long time. It could very well be a year or more after the lawsuit is filed.
It is your burden to prove that the other party was negligent. It is also on you to prove your injuries and justify the amount you are asking for.
The jury will also look at whether or not you were negligent, and if you were, did your own negligence caused your injuries.
Different states use different methods for determining your award based on liability. In some states, you cannot be liable at all. Others, you cannot be more than 50% liable.
Then some states allow you to recover the percentage that you were not liable; even if that amount is only 1%.
Do You Have a Car Accident Lawsuit?
If you have recently been injured in an accident, then you may have a case for a car accident lawsuit. Before you take any action, the best thing to do is to sit down with an experienced attorney.
They can listen to your experience and help you determine if you have a case.
Follow our blog and learn more about the blog from our regularly posted content.