When an individual files a claim or lawsuit following a personal injury accident, the goal is to recover the maximum possible in damages. A claim can reimburse the victim for medical expenses, loss of income both now and estimated for the future, pain and suffering, rehabilitative therapy, emotional anguish, and more. In certain instances the injured person may be able to recover punitive damages when it can be proven that the liable party acted with intent to harm. An experienced West Virginia personal injury lawyer is an extremely valuable asset and advocate to have on your side, particularly when it comes to proving liability and building a solid case that leads to positive results.
Each personal injury case is different. The length of time needed to settle your case may vary depending on several factors. A large number of cases will be settled long before going to trial. Your case may or may not require litigation, contingent upon the facts and what your lawyer deems will be in your best interests. To get a better estimate on how long your case will take, it is first necessary to understand the stages involved in both the settlement phase and the litigation phase.
Stages Involved in Settling a Personal Injury Case in West Virginia
The first stage is for you to get medical attention and care. While you are under medical care, your lawyer will gather the police and accident reports, get statements from eyewitnesses, and assemble the evidence necessary to prove your claim. Reports may also need to be filed with your insurance company and the other party's insurance company. Verification of policy limits can be gathered at this time as well.
This stage can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on the severity of the injuries sustained.
When your medical treatment is complete, or in very serious injury cases, you are stabilized, your medical records will be requested from your doctor. As an average it may take between 45-60 days to obtain these records. Once records are received, a demand package will be prepared by your lawyer. The firm believes in working closely with its clients, so you will have the opportunity to review the information pertaining to your claim, so you understand value ranges being sought prior to the demand package going to the insurance company. This action will get the negotiation process rolling.
Expect that a counter-offer will be returned in about 30-60 days and further negotiations will follow.
If at any point during negotiations you and your lawyer are satisfied with a settlement offer, your case will conclude upon acceptance of the offer.
It many cases it could be necessary to move to the litigation stage to help you recover fair compensation. Should that be needed in your case, preparations for filling a lawsuit will take between 30-45 days in most cases. Once the lawsuit is filed and papers are served to the defendant, there are 30 days in which to respond. A failure to respond will strongly weigh in your favor. The more likely response is for the opposing counsel to answer the lawsuit and respond with a clear set of questions, also known as interrogatories.
This stage of the process is known as discovery and usually goes back and forth for approximately 6 months or more. Upon completion, you will be required to give your deposition and sworn statement.
At this point the trial preparation stage will begin. Getting a jury trial on the schedule can be a lengthy process, lasting between 10 months and a couple of years, depending on the court, judge and trial scheduling. Once your case goes to trial the firm will present your case, fully prepared, with expert witnesses testifying on various facts. With more than 30 years' experience practicing personal injury law and having obtained Top 100 verdicts in the U.S., a West Virginia personal injury attorney from the firm has the experience you need in serious injury cases.
Call Fitzsimmons Law Firm PLLC right away to start the process of recovering compensation.