The timeline involved in any car accident lawsuit is something that needs to be considered by those involved in what can often be an emotionally and financially challenging time.
Various stages of proceeding with a lawsuit are required to be completed to obtain a successful outcome and knowing what to expect during this process and help ease some of the anxiety involved in the post-accident time.
We asked an experienced Philadelphia car accident attorney to outline the key steps necessary to pursue a car accident claim. Here are the seven key steps necessary to reach a successful outcome.
The Consultation and Investigation Stage
The first step that is taken when filing a car accident lawsuit begins with an initial consultation with a local legal team. During this free, no-obligation consultation, you will have the opportunity to discuss the details of your case, provide any evidence you have, and share your side of the story with the attorney. Your attorney will then conduct a thorough investigation in order to gather additional evidence, such as police reports, statements from witnesses, and medical records.
Your attorney will work with experts who are able to re-create the accident. These professionals, known as reconstructionists, will analyze the situation and re-create your accident to demonstrate the speeds of the vehicles involved, their actions at the time of the accident, whether weather contributed to the incident taking place, and various other factors. This report can be invaluable when it comes to proving your side of the story.
In addition, your attorney will also work with financial experts who are able to determine the extent of damages that your accident has caused, including other key economic loss factors such as your lost earnings.
This calculation of financial loss will be based on your level of education, your chances of being promoted, and various other factors. The calculation includes the use medical bills, vehicle repair statements, and other evidence to prove the extent of damages that you have been forced to endure.
Filing the Complaint
Once all of the necessary information has been gathered on your behalf, your attorney will file a complaint. This legal document outlines your claims for compensation against the defendant and will also serve as an official notification that you are seeking money for the damages that you face from the car accident.
The complaint will be served on the attorney for the defendant or their insurance company. The complaint will outline all of the damages that you have suffered and how the defendant is responsible for them. It will also include some of the evidence that your attorney gathered on your behalf during the investigation process.
The Discovery Process
In this stage, both you and the attorney for the defendant will formally exchange relevant information through written requests for answers to questions and documents, which are called interrogatories.
You will also request sworn statements and engage in various other investigative techniques. This process allows each side to understand their opponent’s position better and build their case accordingly.
The discovery process can help you determine what type of evidence the defendant has to disprove that they are liable for the accident taking place. It can also demonstrate if they have determined that you contributed to the accident in any way.
Settlement Negotiations or Mediation
After you complete the discovery process, there may be an opportunity for settlement negotiations or mediation outside of court. Your car accident attorney can help communicate your desired outcome effectively to the insurance company for the defendant while also exploring other options that may be available to help you resolve your claim.
Preparing for Trial
If your attorney is unable to reach a settlement agreement during negotiation or mediation, they will begin to prepare your case to go to trial. This involves developing a strategy for presenting evidence for your case in court, identifying potential witnesses who can support your claims, and outlining arguments to present before a judge or jury.
Hiring an Attorney is the Best First Step
Although this sounds like a lot of work, filing legal action after suffering injuries as a result of a car accident is a very important step to take when it comes to healing and overcoming your injuries and damages.
It is not an ‘essential’ to have a lawyer handle these processes, but it will measurably improve your chances of success in having one. Trying to navigate the complex legal system after an accident while overcoming injuries is daunting, so too are several of the legal hurdles needed to be overcome.
An experienced attorney who works in these areas (with good reviews, good ‘word-of-mouth’ comments and the like) will help you achieve a good result and hold the negligent party accountable for the pain and suffering caused.
How Long Does Each Stage Take?
Each stage of the legal process has a different length of time that it will take to complete. The initial investigation process can depend on how complex your case is. It will also depend on if all of the parties involved are cooperative with you. The negotiation process will begin after the investigation is finished. This can take several weeks or months to come to a settlement agreement. If you have to go to mediation, the process can be longer.
If you have to file a lawsuit in court, it can take several months for your case to make it to trial. The discovery phase will happen as you wait to go to court and can take several weeks to months to complete.
Trial itself can take several days to present evidence. Both sides will be able to present the evidence that they have and make arguments against the opposite party. After the trial concludes, it can take several days for a verdict to be reached. After a verdict is reached, it can take several weeks to receive any compensation that you are awarded.
Your attorney will remain by your side through every step of the legal process and answer any questions that you have. They will provide you guidance and support during this very difficult time so you have the best chance of getting justice.
Source: Edelstein, Martin & Nelson PA