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How Does the Personal Injury Claim Process Work?

If you suffer a personal injury in a vehicle accident, at work, on someone else's property or due to someone else's actions, you may be entitled to compensation due to that party being at-fault for your injury and its related expenses.

To obtain that compensation, though—and to ensure you're fully compensated for both direct and indirect costs—you will need to find a (lawyer with a personal injury) focus. (Personal injury) cases can vary in length and complexity depending on the cost and complexity of your case, as well as the liable party's willingness to work out a settlement agreement that gives you the compensation you deserve.

Interested in filing a personal injury claim, but you don't know where to start? Here's an outline of what to expect.

Step 1: Meet With a Personal Injury Attorney

If you're serious about filing a personal injury claim, the first and most important step is connecting with an attorney to represent your case.

Your attorney will be your trusted legal counsel guiding you through this process. This includes identifying the amount you need to be compensated, and developing a strategy to approach the liable party and negotiate an agreement.

Not sure where to find an attorney? One option is to ask friends, family and coworkers if they have an attorney they would recommend. You can also conduct an online search for "(personal injury lawyer near me)" to pull up a list of local lawyers who might be able to handle your case. Use online reviews and other research tools to identify which law offices might offer the best fit.

Step 2: Gather Records and Determine the Scope of Your Claim

Depending on the nature of your personal injury, your lawyer will concentrate most of their efforts on first gathering as much information as possible. This may include interviews with yourself and/or witnesses, as well as documentation of the incident through police reports, medical records, and other resources.

Your attorney will also want to make sure all of your costs are accounted for. While this commonly includes such costs as medical bills and property damage, you may also want to seek compensation for emotional distress, personal suffering, loss of income or employment, and other potential consequences of your injury.

Step 3: Contact the Responsible Party With Your Claim Demands

Once your claim is finalized, your attorney will reach out to the responsible party to notify them of your claim and deliver all supporting documents.

Once the liable party receives your claim, they will have a period of time to either agree to compensation, enter into negotiations on a settlement, or refuse the claim. If they refuse the claim or fail to negotiate a settlement, your lawyer will then file the claim in court.

Step 4: File a Claim in Court

Once a claim is filed in court, a legal process begins that will proceed forward unless both sides agree on a settlement that closes the court process.

A court process will involve the following key stages once a claim has been filed:

Discovery: This is where both sides have time to gather all necessary evidence and investigate the claims made by the other party.

Negotiation: After the discovery phase is concluded, both sides will reconvene for negotiations in hopes of averting a trial.

Mediation: A third-party mediator may be brought in to manage negotiations and facilitate communication between both sides. This step is typically sought out when negotiations fail to result in an agreement.

Step 5: Proceed to Trial if No Settlement is Reached

Although the meditation process usually resolves most settlement cases that reach this point in the process, mediation is sometimes not enough to secure a settlement between parties. If that happens, the last step in this process is to take your case to court.

A personal injury trial process will determine whether your claims are valid and entitled to compensation, or whether the judge sides with the liable party and denies your claim. In some cases, the judge may approve only part of your claim. Since this process involves less certainty, and also increases your legal fees, most sides are often eager to avoid a trial. Still, you and your lawyer should be prepared in the event your case reaches this stage.

Hopefully, your personal injury case will be resolved before reaching the trial stage, resulting in an agreed-upon settlement between you and the party liable for your injury. This leads to a faster, less stressful resolution for all sides, while still ensuring you receive the compensation to which you are entitled.

Ready to get started with a personal injury claim? Contact a personal injury lawyer today.

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