When you are injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by another driver’s negligence, you are entitled to seek compensation for your injuries and damages through a personal injury claim. This compensation can cover your medical expenses, lost wages during your recovery, and your pain and suffering. How does the car accident settlement process work?

The process is more than submitting a claim to the other driver’s auto insurance provider and receiving a check to cover your losses. Similar to the circumstances surrounding an auto accident, the timeline of a personal injury case varies depending on the severity of your injuries, the defendant’s level of cooperation, and the complexity of the case. The following steps are a general guide to building a personal injury claim.

Get medical care - 
If you have been involved in an accident or sustained an injury, you should seek medical treatment immediately - even if you don’t appear to be injured. This may involve a visit to the emergency room or your primary care doctor. Many conditions do not appear instantly after an accident, but symptoms may be relieved or prevented with an early examination. Early medical records also serve as evidence with insurance companies and a jury should filing a lawsuit become necessary.

Prepare documentation - 
Once you’ve received proper medical care, you should consider documenting all damages, injuries, and medical treatments related to the accident. Collect evidence surrounding the cause of the accident, as well as how the accident or injury has affected your life. It is also critical to note any hospital visits, lost work, or medical expenses.

Schedule a legal consultation -
 While most small personal injury claims can be settled without legal representation, personal injury attorneys tend to produce larger awards versus victims to try to settle their claim on their own. Personal injury attorneys, including Hudgins Law Firm, usually offer free initial consultations, so it’s to your benefit to discuss your case with an attorney before filing. 

Investigate the accident and injuries - 
When you hire an attorney, he or she will begin by interviewing you to gain more information about the accident, injuries, and medical treatment. Your attorney will then request the records from your medical treatment. Depending on your case, your attorney may work with accident reconstruction specialists or other experts to help build your case.

Establish negligence -
 Most personal injury cases center on negligence, or a failure to use reasonable care in a situation where an individual could be injured. For example, a driver may be considered negligent if driving while under the influence. If not impaired by alcohol, the driver likely would not have neglected the rules of the road and thus not caused the accident. While proving negligence can be difficult if you choose to represent yourself, an experienced personal injury attorney helps you successfully navigate this step.

Serve notice of claim -
 If you decide to pursue a personal injury case, you must inform all involved parties of your intent to file suit. Also known as “service of process,” the notice is delivered in person by a law enforcement officer or professional process server. 

Begin settlement talks - 
Before the case goes to court, your attorney may make a demand to the defendant’s attorney or insurance provider. The attorneys will then try to negotiate a settlement acceptable to both parties. A majority of personal injury claims settle prior to going to court. 

File a lawsuit -
 If a settlement cannot be reached, your attorney begins the litigation phase by filing your claim in court. This initiates the discovery phase, in which each party completes an investigation into the other parties’ claims and defenses in an attempt to gather evidence. Your attorney will ask questions and request documents from the opposing attorneys, and vice versa. Due to the amount of documentation involved, the discovery phase can last up to a year. 

Attempt mediation -
 At the end of the discovery phase, the attorneys will have another opportunity to settle the case through mediation. You and the defendant meet with a mediator, a neutral party who will attempt to resolve the case in a way that satisfies both parties. If mediation is unsuccessful, your case will go to trial.

At Hudgins Law Firm, our sole responsibility is to YOU. We will fight for the compensation you deserve following an auto accident. We deal with insurance companies and take them to court if necessary. To set up a FREE consultation, call us toll-free at 800-950-5534, or complete our online contact form. We’re the right team for you!