If you have been hurt in a car accident, you may have to file a lawsuit to get the compensation you're entitled to. When you decide to file a lawsuit, this puts several things in motion. Your vehicle accident attorney is an essential part of this process, but you will be contributing a significant amount to the case as well. Below, you can read about the four things that happen in auto accident lawsuits prior to trial.
Meeting With Your Vehicle Accident Attorney
The first part of the process is a meeting with your vehicle accident attorney. At this meeting, your lawyer will ask you questions about how the accident happened. It is also important that you tell your lawyer about any and all contact that you've had with the other person or persons involved in the accident.
If you have heard from the other party's insurance company, you need to relay this information to the attorney as well. At this meeting, your attorney will normally tell you not to have any further contact with the insurance company or the other driver. If you hear from them in the future, refer them directly to your lawyer.
Filing the Lawsuit
Your lawyer will file a petition with the court on your behalf. This petition, also known as a complaint, explains the basics of the case, including any injuries that you may have suffered.
The petition also states that you are requesting compensation for those injuries. Since a complaint is only a basic explanation of the case for the court, your injuries don't have to be exhaustively detailed at this point.
The Discovery Process
The discovery process happens after the petition is filed. This process allows time for your attorney to collect information about the case. Similarly, the other person involved in the case (or their legal representation) will collect information during this period.
During the discovery process, attorneys involved in the case can submit interrogatories. The interrogatory is basically a question, or series of questions, about the accident. These questions must be answered under oath. Your lawyer can use the interrogatory to get evidence that supports your case by questioning the other driver under oath.
The Negotiation Period
While you are awaiting your court date, the attorney will typically negotiate for you. Normally, the insurance company (or the lawyer representing the insurance company) will send you a settlement offer first. This first offer is rarely a large one, but it is only a starting point. Your attorney will send a counteroffer after the initial offer. The other side can then respond with a new offer, continuing the negotiation process.
Your lawyer will discuss every offer with you, and you have the power to decide whether to accept at any time. However, it is always best to take the attorney's advice on offers. Your lawyer knows how much a case is really worth, and they usually know what they can get in your case.
The vast majority of auto accident cases are settled during this negotiation phase. 95 to 96 percent of personal injury cases end prior to trial today. Therefore, this is almost always the last step in an auto accident lawsuit. In the event that your attorney is unable to negotiate a fair settlement, they will proceed to prove your case in court. Your lawyer is your best friend in an auto accident lawsuit, so make sure that you contact a skilled lawyer (such as one from Armstrong & Surin) as soon as you've been injured!