5 General Stages of Personal Injury Claims
Personal injury claims can take years to resolve. The time frame varies based on several factors, such as the nature and extent of the injuries, the existence of verifiable evidence to support the claims and defenses, and the court’s availability. Biesterveld & Crook, LLC created the following summary of the stages of personal injury claims to help injury victims better understand the process.
An injury victim should see a doctor right away for an evaluation and medical treatment. First responders will often provide emergency treatment at the scene of the injury incident before transporting the victim to the nearest Emergency Room. If the injuries do not require emergency treatment, the victim should schedule an appointment with a primary care physician. Following doctors’ orders is critical for two reasons. One, it is the best strategy for making a full recovery from injuries. Two, it makes it difficult for the insurance carrier to argue the injury symptoms never existed.
It is critical to begin investigating the circumstances surrounding the injury incident as soon as possible. The injury attorneys at Biesterveld & Crook, LLC build the strongest case possible for their clients by investigating the injury incident the moment they are hired. It is best to hire an injury attorney early in the process so important facts are still fresh to witnesses and the parties involved. Waiting to conduct an investigation can cause serious harm to an injury claim. An experienced injury attorney will gather pictures of the scene of the injury incident, property damage, injuries, contact witnesses for recorded statements, and, when necessary, hire expert witnesses for property damage evaluations, crash reconstruction, and diagrams, and automobile crash event data extraction.
Demand Compensation from The Insurance Company
An injury claim should be reported to the liability insurance carrier for the at-fault party since this is the entity that will ultimately be responsible for reimbursing the injury victim for his or her damages resulting from the injuries. For injury claims stemming from a motor vehicle collision, the injury victim may also start a claim with his or her own insurance carrier for personal injury protection coverage or medical payments coverage, both of which pay for medical bills incurred by the victim while the injury claim is being investigated.
Once an injury victim has fully recovered from their injuries or is at a point where full recovery seems unlikely to occur in the near future, it is time to demand compensation from the insurance carrier for the at-fault party. The amount demanded depends on the unique circumstance of each case, taking in to account the medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, and inconvenience caused by the at-fault party’s negligence. The injury attorney will usually give the claims adjuster 30 days to respond to the demand.
File a Lawsuit
If demands are not met, the next step is to file a lawsuit against the party responsible. This is done by filing a complaint outlining the allegations and damages with the District Court (in Kansas) or Circuit Court (in Missouri), typically in the county where the injury occurred. Once the lawsuit is filed, the injury victim becomes a Plaintiff and must serve notice of the lawsuit on the at-fault party, now referred to as a Defendant.
Once all defendants are served with notice of the lawsuit, the injured plaintiff’s attorney can begin using legal procedures to continue investigating the circumstances surrounding the injuries. This process is known as the “Discovery” phase of a lawsuit and can take months to complete. Both the plaintiff and the defendant utilize this time to gather information to prepare their respective cases for trial.
The vast majority of personal injury cases are settled prior to going to trial, but four to five percent of cases in the United States do end up going to trial. Despite the unlikelihood of a trial, a personal injury attorney prepares every case as if it will reach that point. The attorney would not want the client to appear unprepared in the event a trial is found to be necessary.
The attorneys at Biesterveld & Crook, LLC provide years of experience in all areas of personal injury cases: domestic animal attacks, motor vehicle collisions, nursing home abuse, commercial trucking negligence, dangerous product liability, and dangerous premises liability. If you or someone you know has been injured in an incident that you feel is worthy of a claim, call today to schedule your free consultation.