What Are the Stages of a Personal Injury Claim?
The stages of a personal injury claim often go as follows:
- Hiring a lawyer
- Collecting evidence
- Asking for compensation
- Negotiating a settlement
- Going to court (if necessary)
Stage One: Hiring a Lawyer
The best way to protect your right to seek compensation and ensure you’re pursuing it in the right way is to consult with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. It is your personal injury lawyer’s job to do all they can to preserve your rights and help you seek enough money to cover your losses.
When considering who to hire, make sure you ask the firm questions about:
- Whether they have experience with claims similar to yours
- Whether they have courtroom experience
- What type of fee agreement you would be expected to sign
- How often they’ll update you on your case’s progress
In most cases, you have two years from the injury date to start a lawsuit, as stated in NRS § 11.190(4)(e). You will want to begin the process of finding a lawyer as soon as possible to make sure they have enough time to meet this deadline.
Stage Two: Collecting Evidence
This is one of the first things your lawyer can do. No matter what kind of accident you were in, your lawyer can investigate what happened to determine and/or confirm:
- How badly you were injured
- How much those injuries will cost you in money and physical and emotional distress
- Who is primarily or entirely responsible for the accident, and how much insurance they have
Your lawyer may collect evidence like police reports, medical records, surveillance footage, and witness testimony. The more they accumulate, the stronger your case may be, and the more accurately they can calculate how much compensation you deserve for all you’ve lost.
Your lawyer may also engage in discovery with the liable party. This means requesting to see any evidence they have collected and allowing the liable party’s team to look at your evidence. It is a normal part of filing a lawsuit.
Stage Three: Asking for Compensation
Now that your lawyer knows who caused your accident and who their insurance provider is, they can contact those parties and ask them to pay your compensation. Usually, this initial request takes the form of a demand letter sent to either the insurer or the liable party.
Your attorney may advise you to ask for the following types of compensation:
- Pain and Suffering
- Reduced quality of life
- Disabling injuries
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of income
- Property damage
- Medical expenses
- Loss of employment or earning capacity
How much compensation can you get in a personal injury claim? You should ask for whatever amount will cover all of your physical injuries, emotional distress, and financial losses. Your lawyer can calculate this amount for you.
Stage Four: Negotiating a Settlement
Once the insurance company acknowledges your demand letter, you and your lawyer will have the chance to meet with them and negotiate.
It is important to remember that this is not a friendly discussion. The insurer’s representatives may be polite and even seem sympathetic, but their job is to save their employer money. They may try to do so by:
- Driving a hard bargain, offering a very low settlement, and then saying they will not negotiate further
- Presenting evidence that supposedly proves you are mostly responsible for the accident or your injuries and aren’t entitled to compensation
- Presenting evidence that supposedly shows your injuries are not severe enough to justify the amount of compensation you asked for
This is a big part of the reason why stage one involves hiring a lawyer. It is important for both your case and your well-being to have a professional legal representative who can:
- Do all the talking at negotiations (you don’t even have to be there if you don’t want to be)
- Use evidence to bolster your case and refute the insurer’s claims
- Attend multiple meetings if negotiations run long
- Tell you if and when the insurance company makes a fair offer that is worthy of consideration
- Prepare and walk you through the settlement agreement before you sign it
Stage Five: Going to Court
Of all the stages of a personal injury claim, this is the only one you may not have to go through. If the insurance company is willing to negotiate, your Las Vegas personal injury lawyer may be able to secure an out-of-court settlement for you.
That said, you should still be prepared for the possibility that negotiations are unsuccessful or not an appropriate option in your case. Your personal injury attorney can walk you through what a court case may entail and take care of all legal tasks associated with it, including:
- Determining which court has jurisdiction over your case
- Scheduling trial dates
- Submitting evidence, legal briefs, and other paperwork to the judge
- Preparing friendly witnesses to testify
- Questioning friendly witnesses and cross-examining witnesses for the defense
- Preparing and delivering oral arguments at the beginning and conclusion of the case
- Raising objections if and when the defense tries to violate your rights
The ultimate goal of a trial is to secure you a jury award in place of the settlement you originally wanted. It is up to your attorney to persuade the jury that you deserve all of the money you asked for.
As with negotiations, it is not possible to know upfront exactly how long a trial will take. What you can be sure of is that your lawyer will be there for you from start to finish.
We Can Help You Navigate Your Personal Injury Claim
De Castroverde Accident & Injury Lawyers have experience with many types of personal injury claims, from car accidents to product liability to premises liability. Contact our firm to get a free case review and to learn more about what we can do to guide you through each stage of your claim.