If you’ve never worked with an attorney before, there’s a lot of the legal system you should know, just so you know what to expect. There are a lot of intricacies that go into every case, and with every case being unique, there are a lot of different ways a case can go. It’s impossible to outline the entire process with any precision, but here are a few things to expect from the process, from the beginning to the end.
Hiring an Attorney
Expect to shop around. Schedule meetings with several attorneys and interview them. Your attorney will be working for you, so you need to make sure you have the attorney that you click with best. “Hiring the Right Attorney” will give you a more in-depth look at the process.
If you were injured and think you have a case, it’s very important that you discuss your case with an attorney to make sure it’s something worth pursuing. Some personal injury attorneys will offer a free consultation. They’ll point out the strengths and weaknesses of your case. They will likely request paperwork from treatment or any information you have about the accident.
Your attorney will then spend time gathering information about the elements surrounding your injury and about your treatment. Your attorney will correspond with the hospital, with the doctor(s) who treated you, and your insurance company. With all of the information in place, the attorney will write a demand, and negotiation will continue from there. Your case may require mediation, where it may be settled out of court.
The majority of personal injury cases never make it to court—they’re settled out-of-court. If negotiation comes to a halt and isn’t settled during mediation, your case will go to trial, with a judge and jury deciding the outcome.
If there’s any one thing to know about a case, it’s that it’s a lengthy process. The discovery process alone, where your attorney gathers information about your injury to submit to the court, can take up to six months. You’ll be responsible for turning over a significant amount of paperwork, like medical bills and insurance policies, and the attorneys on both sides will have to disclose this information. After it’s been submitted, the defense will need a certain amount of time to formulate a response. If your case makes it to court, it may take up to another six months before you’re able to get it onto the docket, and then the trial itself could take up to an additional two weeks.
All in all, trying a case is a lengthy process, and it requires patience. If you’re working with an experienced personal injury attorney, trust that he or she is moving the case along as swiftly as can be allowed.