Personal Injury Timeline
There is no magic time frame for any personal injury case. Each case is unique and personal. However, there are enough similarities that create the following expectations:
1). OBTAIN TREATMENT: The most important step of your case is to obtain and continue with proper treatment. Treatment should start at the emergency room or soon thereafter. Treatment should be continuous. If you stop treatment, you need to tell us and have a really good reason (my mother fell ill and I had to take care of her for three months until she passed). Once you are released from treatment, you need to set up a meeting with one of our attorneys. Obviously, if you suffered a soft tissue injury, your treatment period is most likely 3-6 months. On the other hand, if your injury is a broken back, you may need surgeries and physical therapy and your treatment could take 2-3 years! While you are treating, we will make initial contact with the insurance companies and advise them that you are represented. We also advise the doctors that we are assisting you with your claim.
2). THE DEMAND: Once you finish treatment, we begin the demand process. This will be frustrating. It starts with compiling all of your medical bills and treatment notes. Often times this can take weeks or months. Once we gather all documents, we analyze your particular case and assign it a dollar amount. We draft a formal demand letter and send it to the insurance company. From there, the insurance company will take 30-45 days to respond. The insurance company’s response it usually a low ball offer. We attempt to negotiate a reasonable settlement without filing a lawsuit. Reasonable depends on your particular situation and can be discussed with the attorneys in the future.
3). LITIGATION: When we are unable to contact the insurance adjuster or the offer on the table is too low, we move forward with litigation. We file a lawsuit, have the sheriff serve the insured (and/or insurance company), and begin discovery. A lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of your injury or you cannot recover. Once the lawsuit is filed, it can take over a month for service. From there, the insured will contact their insurance company, who will then turn the file over to a lawyer. We enter into the discovery process, which takes up to six months by law. We cannot force this process to move any faster and we request your patience. Often times it takes 2 years once the case is filed to reach a jury.
4). MEDIATION: After we finish amassing the facts and documents in your case, we sit down with a formal mediator, who is usually an attorney well versed in personal injury litigation. There, we attempt to negotiate a settlement. The insurance company will have videos and large displays to show you that your case is worthless. We ignore them and try to settle for a reasonable value. As your attorney, we do not force settlement. We advise you of the process and you can take it or leave it.
5). TRIAL: If all else failed, you go to a jury of 6 or 12 and explain your story. This date is usually 2-4 years after your initial injury. Each trial is unique and can last anywhere from 1 day to several weeks. More details are provided to you as your case progresses. A trial can be set on a particular date, and be continued for months at a time. This is due to court conflicts and conflicts of the attorneys involved in the case. It is our job to push your trial through as quickly as possible, but the process can be frustrating.