If you have been involved in a car accident, you have probably had to deal with multiple doctor’s appointments, physical therapy sessions, and hours off of work. If your accident was caused by another person’s negligence, your friends and co-workers may have asked you if you have plans to sue for damages. It can be helpful to know the basic steps to take before and during a personal injury lawsuit.
1. Gather Evidence
When you are involved in a car accident, you should pull over and call 911. You should get the names and telephone numbers of any witnesses to the crash and take pictures if you can.
You should save every medical bill that you have had and receipts for any medications you have taken, whether they are prescription or non-prescription. You should also get your employer to write you a letter stating the number of hours you have missed from work due to the crash.
2. Contact Your Insurance Company
You should contact your insurance company and report the accident to them as soon as possible. They will contact the at-fault driver’s insurance company, and that insurance company will investigate the claim. Once they investigate the claim, they will approve or deny it. If they approve the claim, they will make you a settlement offer. You will want to talk to an attorney before accepting the offer.
3. Contacting an Attorney
Most personal injury attorneys offer free consultation and work on a contingency basis. They will look over the facts in your case and tell you if you should accept the settlement offer. In most cases, the insurance company’s first offer will be too low. Your attorney will try to negotiate with them, and if they are unable to make a deal, you may move forward with a lawsuit.
4. Filing a Lawsuit
Your attorney will send the insurance company a letter requesting the amount of money you believe you deserve. If the insurance company does not pay it, you will then file your claim with the appropriate court.
The Court in which you sue them will depend upon the amount of money for which you are suing them. If you are suing them for under $10,000, you will file your case in small claims court. If you are suing them for more money than that, you will file your case in county court.
The insurance company will be served with a summons. They can either pay the amount of money that you are requesting or file an answer. If they file an answer, your case will go to court.
The case will then go into the discovery phase, where each side will provide the other one with all of the evidence they have for the case.
You will have a deposition where each side can take statements from witnesses who are under oath. Your attorney and the insurance company will attempt to negotiate a deal many times throughout this process.
Going to Court
If you are unable to work out an acceptable settlement, you will then go to court. Either a jury or a judge will listen to your respective attorneys argue your case and determine whether or not they should pay you money and how much they should pay you. According to car accident lawyer Greg Kirakosian, very few personal injury cases make it to court.
Being injured in an accident is one of life’s most difficult experiences. Taking the right step after an accident will give you a good chance of getting the money you are owed.