What to Expect When Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit After an Injury

If you have been injured in a car accident or other injury that was caused by someone else’s negligence, you are often entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other losses. However, pursuing a personal injury lawsuit can be a complex and lengthy process that requires legal expertise and patience. Having a lawyer in your corner greatly maximizes your chances of obtaining justice and being adequately compensated for your expenses, pain and suffering. Here are some of the basic steps and stages of a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident (or any other injury, for that matter):

  • Consulting a personal injury lawyer. The first thing you should do after getting medical treatment is to consult a personal injury lawyer who can evaluate your case and advise you on your legal options. A personal injury lawyer can help you gather evidence, negotiate with the insurance company, and file a lawsuit if necessary. Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means they only get paid if you win or settle your case. Generally, you will be required to either obtain or release your medical records so that your attorney can review them and prepare an accurate and compelling case.
  • Filing a complaint and serving the defendant. If the insurance company does not offer a fair settlement, your lawyer may file a formal complaint in the appropriate civil court, stating your claims and damages against the defendant (the defendant is the person or entity responsible for your injury). The complaint is the first official document in the case and sets the tone for the litigation. After filing the complaint, your lawyer will serve it on the defendant, who will have a certain amount of time to respond or forward it to his or her injurer for defense. In Michigan, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is generally three years from the date of injury, with some exceptions (for instance, medical malpractice claims must be filed within two years). It’s therefore critical to contact an attorney to discuss the specifics of your case).
  • Conducting discovery and exchanging evidence. Discovery is the phase of the lawsuit where both sides exchange information and evidence related to the case. This may include interrogatories, requests for documents, depositions, and expert opinions. Discovery can take several months, depending on the complexity of the case and the cooperation of the parties. Our attorneys will work to present all of the evidence to the other side during this phase of the litigation in an effort to show the seriousness of your injuries and the strength of your case. More often than not, this is sufficient to induce a settlement offer or a better result without the need to go to trial.
  • Mediating and negotiating a settlement. Even after filing a lawsuit, most personal injury cases are resolved through settlement, which means the parties agree to a certain amount of money in exchange for dropping the case. Settlement can happen at any point during the litigation, but it is more likely after discovery, when both sides have a clearer picture of the strengths and weaknesses of their case. Mediation is a very common method of facilitating settlement, where a neutral third party helps the parties reach a mutually acceptable agreement. Our office has relationships with many effective, sympathetic mediators who can often persuade defendants or insurance companies to offer more to settle cases than they otherwise would be willing to pay.
  • Going to trial and getting a verdict. If settlement is not possible or desirable, the case will proceed to trial, where a judge or jury will decide who is liable and how much compensation is owed. A trial can last from a few days to weeks, depending on the number of witnesses, evidence, and arguments. The verdict is the final decision of the court, which can be appealed by either side if there are legal errors or other grounds.

Filing a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident can be a daunting and stressful experience, but it can also be a rewarding one if you have a strong case and a skilled lawyer. We have found that litigating personal injury cases to a successful resolution can bring great satisfaction and closure to clients who have experienced physical trauma and the emotional challenges that often result. If you have been injured in a car accident, contact us today to schedule a free consultation and to determine if you have a case. We look forward to talking with you.