The time following an accident that results in injury or death can be scary, isolating, traumatic and overwhelming. If the injury or death was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may consider getting legal help, which is why it’s important to know what to expect when hiring a personal injury attorney.
The client experience from injury through settlement or trial can be compared to a road with a standard mile markers and a few turns along the way. Though each case is unique, our team has developed a roadmap that outlines the typical steps a client can expect to take when seeking justice after a personal injury.
If You’re Injured Due to Negligence, Time is of the Essence
Research, Reach Out, Consult
After you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, always seek medical treatment first. Then, it’s important to consider taking legal action relatively quickly as you begin to receive medical treatment.
Start by researching attorneys and their specializations online. Look for personal injury attorneys local to your area, and read reviews and testimonials from former clients. If you are in the hospital or unable to research on your own, a loved one can help compile a list of potential attorneys and contact them on your behalf.
Trustworthy personal injury attorneys should offer a free consultation for new clients. Once you’ve narrowed down your list of lawyers, schedule a free consultation with a few of them – either in person or virtually. You can ask questions and get to know the attorney and his or her firm. Read our Q&A for tips on which questions to ask your potential attorney, and hire the person or team who you feel will keep your best interests in mind.
Attorneys Will Get to Work While You Recover
After making your decision to hire a personal injury attorney, he or she will begin gathering evidence from the accident. During this time, you may still be receiving medical treatment and working through the extent of your injuries.
Remember to keep documentation of your medical records and bills after your injury. As your attorney gathers evidence, medical records and bills become a key factor for the value of your case.
Next, a demand letter will be sent before a lawsuit is filed. This is a written demand to the at-fault driver or their insurance company. Georgia law requires the plaintiff to give the other side 30 days to consider the offer in the demand letter.
Forks in the Road: Settling, Lawsuits and Trial
After the insurance company or at fault driver receives the demand letter, a plaintiff can initiate the lawsuit by filing a document known as the complaint. The complaint lays out your allegations in broad terms. It identifies each defendant and the damage claims you have against them. Once the defendants are formally notified of the claim, they have a set amount of time to file a formal response. This response must address each aspect of your claim and either admit or deny its accuracy.
This leads to the question, “will we settle?”
- If the answer is yes, disbursement of funds will take place
- If the answer is no, a lawsuit is initiated
Remember to carefully consider whether to settle. Your attorney can help you navigate this decision.
Phases of a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you do not settle, a lawsuit will be initiated. The discovery process will take place first, which allows both sides to sift through and evaluate the evidence in the case.
Next, mediation will occur. The plaintiff and defendant will attempt to settle the case without going to trial by way of mediation. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution where a neutral third party facilitates an agreement between the parties. It is a shorter and cheaper way to settle a dispute than litigation, and can give the parties full control of the outcome. It requires both parties to compromise.
From mediation will come another crossroads – to settle, or go to trial. If an agreement is reached during mediation, a disbursement of funds will take place. If neither party can agree to a compromise to settle the case, it will move forward to the trial phase.
Most personal injury cases do not go to trial, but in the case of an unfair settlement offer, taking a case to trial is often your best chance of obtaining the compensation you deserve.
During the trial, both sides will have a say in picking the jury. Each side will also put on evidence, including any witnesses who can help establish liability or prove the amount of damages. In the end, the judge or jury will make the determination on whether you will obtain a judgment.
Trustworthy Personal Injury Attorneys in Georgia
Though the legal process can seem daunting, trustworthy personal injury attorneys like those at Williams Elleby are committed to transparency and service to each client. You don’t have to face a lawsuit alone – we’ll help you get the compensation you deserve. To learn more, call 833-LEGALGA (833-534-2542) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.