Most personal injury claims resolve in settlements between the victim and the at-fault party. But negotiations sometimes break down. If you’re unable to reach a full and fair settlement agreement, the next choice to cover your losses may be to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. You’ll benefit from getting advice from an experienced attorney before making any decisions.
At The Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan, our legal team will look at the facts of your case and determine whether a lawsuit is the best path towards achieving your needs and goals. Our accomplished Massachusetts personal injury lawyers can build a strong case on your behalf and represent you in court from start to finish.
Knowing the steps involved in a lawsuit can make the entire process seem less overwhelming. This guide will give you a better idea of what to expect from a personal injury suit. For more information, contact our office by calling or completing our online form. The first consultation is free.
Consulting a Personal Injury Lawyer
When a victim is injured in any type of accident due to someone else’s recklessness, a personal injury claim may be possible. How can you know for sure? By talking to a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer.
Attorneys know what it takes to craft a convincing court case. They are also trained in the art of negotiation — an essential skill when trying to reach a resolution without the need for trial. If a lawsuit becomes necessary, a lawyer will gather the evidence necessary to substantiate your demand for maximum compensation.
There are also many court protocols that must be followed in order to present a case to a judge and jury. Years of legal training make these procedures common knowledge to lawyers and very challenging for private individuals to understand and execute correctly.
Your attorney will be able to place an appropriate value on your case that accounts for all of your financial, physical, and emotional losses. An attorney will also make sure that your rights are being protected and you aren’t being taken advantage of because of your vulnerable situation. For all of these reasons, it’s in your best interest to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your injury.
Investigating Claims and Medical Records
The backbone of any case is evidence. Evidence consists of records, documentation, videos, witness statements, and at times, expert testimony. All of this information will help re-create the event and explain why the other party should be held liable for the accident that injured you.
The compensation awarded — and who is responsible for paying that money — comes down to successfully outlining the extent of your losses who is ultimately to blame for the accident.
An attorney will leverage the full breadth of their experience and resources to secure evidence. Lawyers have the power to request and subpoena valuable proof before it is lost, altered, or destroyed.
Victims can help their legal standing by seeing a doctor promptly after an accident. Not only does this ensure that they are not more seriously injured than they seem to be, it also creates a medical record linking the injuries to the accident. Demonstrating that you have been to a physician and are receiving treatment for accident-related injuries is a necessity.
Making Demands and Negotiating
Not all personal injury cases make it to court. If your attorney believes that a settlement may be reached without the need for trial, he or she can send a demand letter to the at-fault party’s insurance company. The insurer can agree to the demand, or the negotiating process will begin.
If an agreement cannot be reached, or if the insurance company does not want to negotiate in good faith, litigation will be the next course of action.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If a settlement cannot be reached, then an attorney will begin the process of filing a personal injury lawsuit in court. This can be a lengthy process, depending on the circumstances. Sometimes it can take up to one to two years for a case to finally make it to trial due to procedural and pretrial procedures. An attorney will be very aware of the statute of limitations, or time limit, to file a suit and take steps to make sure the process proceeds smoothly and according to all state laws.
The Discovery Phase
The discovery phase occurs when attorneys from both sides collect statements and information pertaining to the case. This information can come in the form of documentation, oral interviews, depositions, and interrogatories. Interrogatories are a list of questions that must be answered completely and honestly. The list of the necessary information, records, and testimony may be extensive, but is essential to build the strongest and most airtight case possible.
Mediation and Negotiation
Once the discovery phase has wrapped up, attorneys may end up back at the negotiating table. The discovery phase can shed new light on a situation, and it may be in the best interest of all parties to settle instead of going to trial. Negotiation is the process of hammering out the terms of a settlement between attorneys.
Mediation is the process of attempting to reach a settlement using a neutral third-party. A mediator can help facilitate communication and cooperation between both sides. A mediator is used to help each side attempt to reach a compromise and ultimately avoid a trial.
Trial and Appeals
If negotiations fail or a mediator cannot get both sides to compromise, the result will be a trial held in court. Each side will be allowed to explain their side of the story and present supporting evidence. It will then be up to a judge or a jury to determine the outcome.
An appeal is a challenge to the court’s final decision. An appeal may result in a higher court reexamining the case and how it was conducted. The Supreme Judicial Court is the court of last resort in Massachusetts.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer Today
At The Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan, we understand that the process of filing a personal injury lawsuit may seem complicated. Our goal is to make navigating the legal framework as easy and as stress-free as possible for you.
If you’ve been injured in an accident, you don’t deserve to pay for it out of your own pocket. Get help by calling us or filling out our online form for a free consultation. There’s no fee unless we win.