How Does the Personal Injury Claims Process Work?
For many people, filing a personal injury claim seems confusing and overwhelming. Still, it’s important to file a claim for damages when you’ve been hurt by someone else’s negligence. Knowing what to expect from the process can help alleviate your fears and make it a little bit easier. Below, we’ll review how the personal injury claims process works. If you need assistance with your claim, reach out to an experienced New York personal injury attorney today.
The Preliminary Interview
Your personal injury case will begin when you meet with one of our experienced attorneys. During the preliminary interview, we’ll review your case and determine if you have a valid claim. For example, if the statute of limitations ran out on your claim years ago, we’ll advise you of the fact that you have likely forfeited your right to claim damages. While the preliminary interview is a great chance for us to get to know you and your case, it’s also an opportunity for you to get to know us. Come prepared to ask all of your questions because we are always happy to answer them.
The intake phase is an opportunity for you to tell us everything about your accident. This is an important phase, as we’ll identify all of the legally significant facts. Your account of the accident also forms the basis of the complaint, and it affects the opening and closing arguments we’ll use at trial, if this is how your case ends. It’s important to try and remember how the accident happened, how your injuries have impacted your life, and all the other relevant details.
During the intake phase, we’ll also advise on the strengths and weaknesses of your case. For example, if you slipped and fell on uncleared ice on someone else’s property, we’ll let you know that you can file a claim against the property owner. If you were not wearing proper footwear for the weather conditions, though, we will also advise that you may have contributed to the accident, and how that will affect your claim.
Filing a Summons and Complaint
Once you enter the summons and complaint stage of your personal injury claim, you’re officially the plaintiff in your case, or the party that was hurt. The person you’re filing the claim against is known as the defendant. When you file the summons and complaint, you’re notifying both the court and defendant that you were hurt and expect compensation for your losses. Your spouse and children may also have a legal claim against the defendant if they suffered due to your injuries.
The Collection of Evidence and Discovery
Simply stating that someone else was responsible for the accident that caused your injuries is not enough. You must also prove it.
It’s difficult to collect evidence while you’re trying to recover from your injuries. Our personal injury lawyers will collect the relevant evidence, including medical records and reports, accident reports, photos, witness statements, and more to prove your case.
Not only do you need evidence to prove your claim, you also need to know what evidence the other side plans to use against you. You can obtain this evidence during the discovery phase. During discovery, each side asks the other for information and documents regarding the case. If there’s a dispute and one side refuses to provide the evidence requested, the matter must be resolved by a judge.
Depositions, also known as the examination before trial, require you to testify under oath. Depositions are not taken in court but instead, they’re usually conducted in a lawyer’s office. The testimony is recorded and is used for two purposes. The first is so each side can gain an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the other side’s case. The deposition can also help ensure that any statements made at trial are accurate and consistent.
It’s not unusual for people to become intimidated at the thought of being questioned by lawyers. This is another reason it’s so important to work with a personal injury lawyer. A lawyer will prepare you for the deposition by telling you which questions you can expect and by providing tips on how to answer them. Practicing these questions can make you feel better prepared and comfortable during the deposition.
Negotiations and Mediation
Both negotiations and mediation can happen at any point in your case. In fact, your lawyer will likely start negotiating with the other side early in your case. The insurance company or liable party will likely offer a settlement, and your lawyer will likely come back with a counter-offer. If you and the other side can reach a settlement agreement, you don’t need to go to trial. The vast majority of personal injury cases settle out of court, but sometimes a trial is necessary.
Mediation provides another way to settle your dispute without going to court. During mediation, you’ll meet with a third party mediator that will help foster compromise and communication between you and the other party. If your case is resolved during mediation, the mediator will draft the agreement and submit it to the court for approval. Mediation is not practical in every case, and it’s also not always successful. However, it may be a necessary step.
Although most personal injury cases don’t go to trial, it’s sometimes the only way to hold the liable party accountable for their negligent actions. During trial, a judge and jury will hear from both sides. If a jury is present, they’ll determine if you’re entitled to damages and the amount they feel is appropriate. If your case is heard by only a judge, they will make these decisions. It’s always important to work with a personal injury lawyer that has trial experience in the event that this is the only way to resolve your case.
Call Our New York Personal Injury Lawyers Today
We hope you have a better understanding of how the personal injury claims process works. If you’ve been hurt by the careless actions of another person, our personal injury lawyers in New York can advise on your case, including what to expect at any point during the process. At Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, P.C., our knowledgeable attorneys know what evidence to collect to prove your claim and have the necessary experience in the event your case goes to trial. Call us today at 1-877-ASK4SAM or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.