The Personal Injury Claim Process
How does all of this work?
If you’ve been involved in an incident which has resulted in an injury, you’re probably wondering what the next step is. How does this process work?
The first thing that anyone should be concerned with is taking the steps necessary to begin the healing process.. Go see a doctor and seek out treatment that will get you back to what’s called “Maximum Medical Improvement”. Most people have 3 years from the date of an auto accident to file a lawsuit*, so the priority for anyone who’s been injured should be to get better first. Once you’ve been released from care by your doctors, then you can start dealing with settling (or filing) your case, though the insurance company will probably be contacting you well before you have completed treatment.
After you’ve reached Maximum Medical Improvement, either you or an attorney will send a letter to the insurance company who covers the “at-fault” driver called a “Demand”. This letter will include a list of “damages” which will include your injuries, cost of medical treatment, records of lost wages, documentation of any permanent physical impairment and any other harms and losses you may have suffered as result of the crash. It will essentially be “your bill” to the insurance company.
After that, the negotiations begin. Either you, or your attorney, if you’ve hired one, will receive phone calls with offers to which you, or your attorney, will give counter-offers. If all goes well, the insurance adjusters and your attorney (or you) will find common ground and settle the claim without ever having to walk into a courtroom.
If negotiations are unsuccessful, then your attorney will file a lawsuit with the Courts. Once the lawsuit begins, the insurance company hires a team of attorneys to represent the person(s) that collided with you to handle the case and the insurance adjusters may no longer be involved. The case will likely involve a “settlement conference” where everyone will try and continue negotiations with a 3rd party mediator, and, if that doesn’t work, the case will eventually go to trial for a jury to decide.
*If a governmental entity was involved in the auto accident, you have 6 months to let them know…so if that is the case, you should go ahead and speak to an attorney as soon as you can.
If you were injured in a “slip and fall” then you have 2 years from the date of injury to file a lawsuit with the courts.