Injured victims pursuing a personal injury claim typically have little to no experience with suing someone for compensation. You likely have questions about the claims process, so our personal injury lawyer has compiled a step-by-step timeline on how a personal injury claim or lawsuit works.
Personal Injury Lawyer Ira Maurer in Fishkill, New York has recovered $100 million for his clients for 40 years.
1. The Consultation Should Always be FREE.
All consultations should be free. The lawyer you meet with should ask thorough questions about your accident and injuries as well as get to know you. During this appointment, the lawyer should evaluate your potential claim by explaining the legal process and discussing the weaknesses and strengths of your case. He or she needs to educate you about your injuries and pay close attention to what you have to say. This is also the time in which you need to ask questions about the lawyer’s background and experience. It’s essential to hire a lawyer with whom you feel comfortable and trust to represent your case well.
The consultation should involve the lawyer explaining payments. Most personal injury plaintiffs can’t afford to pay their lawyer on an hourly basis, which is why injury attorneys often work on a contingency basis, meaning you don’t pay him or her unless your case reaches a settlement or successful verdict. The standard portion of the settlement, or awarded amount, (outside of medical malpractice claims) is one-third of the net sum recovered. Now, legal firms usually cover the expenses needed during the claims process. They are reimbursed for those expenses, and the remaining amount is separated with the plaintiff receiving two-thirds of the net sum.
If you decide to hire the lawyer, a “retainer agreement” is written up, and it’s essential you read and understand every word before you sign.
2. Gathering Medical Documents, Police Report, & Witnesses
The first phase of a personal injury claim involves your medical treatment and condition. The lawyer will gather copies of all your treatment records, monitor your health, evaluate your accident, and interview witnesses. Your lawyer should give you guidance to help you make educated decisions about your treatment. While that’s your doctor’s job, many physicians don’t schedule enough time to talk with patients about their injuries and answer questions, which leaves many of our Fishkill injured clients confused and anxiety-ridden. Once we’ve gathered and reviewed this information, our personal injury lawyer decides negotiations for a settlement or to start a lawsuit.
3. Discovery Process and Negotiations for Settlement
Once you’ve met with your lawyer to review your case, they will speak to the defendant’s insurance company representative to summarize the evidence, provide the opening settlement demand and explain how that demand was reached. The point is to give a good number that’s high enough to provide you with room for negotiations, but not so high that the insurance company refuses altogether. The insurance company evaluates your claim and decides to settle or proceed to trial.
Claims involving severe injuries pursue significantly high sums and may need to be litigated in court to make the insurance company pay the large amount. If that’s the case with your claim, we file a complaint with the appropriate court that identifies the parties involved, sets forth facts, lists your injuries, and amount of damages you’re pursuing. That complaint is served to the defendant whose insurance then hires a law firm to defend the lawsuit. They serve a formal answer citing whether they admit or deny your allegations. The defendant’s insurance serves a pre-trial written discovery demand to determine as much as possible about your claim. Your lawyer also serves pre-trial demands.
4. Preparing Depositions for Your Personal Injury Settlement or Lawsuit
When both sides have responded to the complaint, pre-trial testimony, called depositions, begins. These testimonies typically start with you, the plaintiff, and are held at your lawyer’s office, such as the Maurer Law Firm in Fishkill. Both the plaintiff’s and the defendant’s lawyers are present along with a witness and court reporter who writes down everything that’s said and provides a written transcript to the witness to look over and correct if necessary. You, the plaintiff, have the right to be at every deposition.
Once pre-trial testimony is complete, you need to have a physical exam by one or more doctors hired by the defense who prepares a written summary of you, your medical records, and opinions. The reports are given to both parties, and experts are chosen to testify, and depositions are taken. Pre-trial motions are filed for the court to dismiss all or part of the claims or defenses by the parties and limit the testimony and exhibits that are admitted as evidence during your personal injury trial.
You need to meet with your lawyer during this step (and all stages, ideally) to make sure there are no surprises at court. Your claim’s strengths and weaknesses are discussed again as well as the chances of success or failure at trial. This is when your lawyer should give you an appropriate appraisal of your claim’s worth and a range of settlement value.
5. Preparing for Trial
Extensive preparation is necessary to reach a successful verdict at trial. Your lawyer needs to read everything in your file and regarding your claim. That includes evidence, subpoenas to the court, and preparation of all witnesses. You’ll likely spend hours going over every question your lawyer will ask you during your testimony and what questions he or she anticipates the defense attorney will ask. This is also the time when your lawyer prepares the treating doctors who will testify at your trial.
6. Going to Trial
The court determines the trial date, and the jury is selected in one of two ways: Either sometime before the trial begins or immediately before it starts. The trial involves introductory remarks to the jury explaining the process. Each side gives opening statements, and the plaintiff’s attorney offers all evidence first because you have the burden of proving your case to the jury. There may be rebuttal evidence to counter the opposite side. Then the lawyers meet privately with the judge to determine what the judge will say to the jury about the law.
Trial ends with summations to the jury which argue what the evidence proves, followed by the judge’s instructions. The jury deliberates and may send notes asking questions. Once a verdict is reached, the Jury Foreman presents the verdict form to the judge and reads it in court. Both lawyers have the opportunity to make post-verdict motions, and the parties decide to accept or appeal the verdict.
Contact Our Fishkill Personal Injury Lawyer for FREE Consultation
If you or someone you know was injured due to someone else’s negligence, please contact the Maurer Law Firm in Fishkill, New York today at (845) 896-5295 to schedule your free consultation. We serve clients in surrounding areas including Lagrangeville, Hudson Valley, Myers Corner, and Beacon.