Most people understand the importance of receiving medical care when they have been injured. But in the blur of treatment and recovery from the injury, what many may not understand is the importance of receiving timely legal advice about how you or your family will pay for that expensive medical care and lost work time.
Determining who is responsible for the injury to you or a family member can be a quick or a drawn-out process, so it’s important that you understand the timeline for a Minnesota personal injury claim.
What Is a Personal Injury Claim?
But before we get into the timeline of an injury claim, maybe we should better define what qualifies as a personal injury in a legal case, as you may think your case wouldn’t qualify.
The more common injury cases involve traffic accidents, where the legal system is asked to determine which driver is at fault, or a work-related accident, where multiple factors come into play as to who has liability for your injury. Personal injury cases also can arise from many other incidents, such as a fall outside your favorite supermarket or a bite from the neighbor’s dog. Instances where you have been harmed by a company’s product also fall into the personal injury category.
All of these examples and more can result in a personal injury claim or court case as you are faced with mounting medical bills, lost income from time off work and other bills involved in your treatment such as transportation costs and expenses if you need treatment out of town. While you’d like to think the responsible parties will be fair with you and pay their share, that’s likely to be the case only if you have experienced legal help on your side.
Now, let’s get into the timeline of a personal injury claim and potential court case:
The Injury and Medical Treatment
Immediately after your injury, you need to seek medical treatment. Oftentimes this is obvious and in many cases you will have been taken to the hospital by ambulance. But in certain cases such as spinal or brain or soft tissue injury, you may think you are OK initially and decline treatment, but it’s best to see a doctor right away to determine if there is damage that could grow worse.
Having a medical record of injury and treatment will be important to your future case.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
Having experienced legal assistance immediately after the injury is important as they will be able to advise you on treatment and return to work options. They also will be able to get into investigation mode quickly to determine who holds liability for your injury and recovery.
Reputable personal injury attorneys will offer a free opening consultation and take your case on a contingency basis, meaning you don’t spend any money up front. Their fees are taken from the settlement or judgment you receive.
While every injury case presents different situations, an experienced attorney will have worked on similar cases and be quick to move in the right direction to get the best outcome.
During the investigation, your attorneys will review all records of the incident, whether that be police reports in the case of an accident, for which you may need an Abogados de accidentes if you’re living in Florida; or reports from your employer and co-workers if you were injured on the job. The attorneys also will interview all potential witnesses and experts involved in the case to construct the truest possible story of what happened. They also will review your medical records and determine the full effect of the injury on your work situation.
Exploration of Settlement Options
Some 85 to 90 percent of personal injury cases are settled before they go to trial, so after a thorough investigation, your attorneys will explore the settlement options with all the parties involved. This could be the quickest way to get your case resolved and ease your stresses over how you will pay your growing debts. However, an experienced attorney will work to get you the best settlement and advise you against settling for payments that will not address all of your needs.
If your case cannot be settled quickly and fairly, your attorney will file the case in court. Sometimes this must be done to meet a statute of limitations, which can vary depending upon the type of case.
Once the case is filed, the parties you are suing will have time to file an answer to your claims. They also will ask for certain information your attorney has, and vice versa, your attorney will seek records from them. Each side also must disclose what witnesses they will be using so the other side has an opportunity to interview those witnesses.
Mediation and Negotiation
Once the various sides understand each others’ cases, a new round of mediation and negotiation begins to see if a settlement can be reached. A mediator is an independent, third party who can review the sides of the case and recommend a settlement, again offering a quicker way for you to receive your money.
Case Goes to Trial
If no settlement is reached, your case will go to trial. Cases can be tried before a jury of your peers or a judge. That decision normally is left to you, depending upon where your attorney thinks you can get a better outcome.
Both sides have the opportunity to present their case and to cross examine witnesses to determine the validity of the case.
Once a jury or judge’s verdict is reached, the case can be appealed to higher courts, or the two sides can abide by the verdict and your case will end. Appeals can add months or years to the resolution of your case.
Now that you understand the timeline behind a personal injury case, you can better see the importance of having an experienced personal injury attorney representing you from the beginning. Contact us today for a free consultation to see how we can best help you.