Personal injury claims, such as car accidents and slip and fall accidents that are caused by someone else’s negligence, very rarely go all the way to court. Generally, these claims are settled between the two parties during the pre-litigation phase of the legal process. Some cases, however, do find their way to court, and understanding the phases of the legal process can better prepare you for what is likely to come.
Phase 1: Pre-Litigation
If you have been injured in an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, it is unlikely that you will immediately file a lawsuit. Instead, you and your experienced Killeen personal injury lawyer will move into the pre-litigation phase, which involves a number of important steps, including:
- Initial Consultation – To begin, you will consult with a personal injury lawyer to discuss the circumstances of your case and confirm that you have a valid case.
- Calculation of Damages – Your lawyer will review your documentation (like medical records) regarding the physical, emotional, and financial damages you have suffered to calculate your total damages.
- Crash Scene Investigation – Your lawyer will likely investigate the scene of the accident, review the police report, interview witnesses, evaluate the damage to both vehicles, and review the negligent driver’s phone records from the time of the accident (in the case of a car accident) to help corroborate your claim of negligence.
- Consult with Experts – Many personal injury cases rely on expert witnesses who help establish and corroborate major legal points
- Negotiate with the Insurance Company – Your personal injury lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to help you obtain the full compensation to which you are entitled. If the insurance company refuses to reach a satisfactory settlement offer, it may be time to progress toward a lawsuit.
Phase 2: Litigation
At this point, your lawyer will formally file a lawsuit against the negligent party, and although settlement negotiations will likely continue, you will also need to prepare for trial, including:
- Discovery – Discovery is the formal legal process of sharing important documentation, evidence, and other information between parties.
- Depositions – Depositions involve taking formal statements under oath from witnesses, the investigating police officer, and any relevant experts, which are transcribed and used at trial as deemed necessary by your lawyer.
- Mediation and Other Settlement Negotiations – It is very likely that your dedicated lawyer and the insurance company will continue to reach a settlement negotiation before proceeding to trial. Mediation is an alternative form of dispute resolution in which an experienced mediator will help both sides come to a fair settlement that bypasses the inherent risk of going in front of a jury at court.
Phase 3: Trial and Appeal
If you are ultimately unable to arrive at a reasonable settlement, the next phase is a trial in which the decision maker – generally a jury – will evaluate your case as presented by your attorney, determine fault, and award damages (as it deems fit). Finally, if you find no satisfaction at trial, you may be eligible to proceed to appeal, which represents another complicated legal process.
If You Have a Personal Injury Claim, Consult with an Experienced Lawyer Today
If you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, Attorney Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is on your side. Mr. Pritchard is a formidable personal injury attorney who is committed to helping you obtain the best possible resolution of your case – whether that involves moving forward to trial or not. We are on your side, so please do not hesitate to contact us or call us at (254) 220-4225 for more information today.