When you’re injured in an accident, it’s normal to have concerns about your health and financial future. How will I pay my medical bills? What about my job? Do I need to file a lawsuit?
These are all fair questions. The personal injury claims process can be confusing. And depending on the facts of the case, it could take anywhere from weeks to years to reach a resolution. At Christensen Law, we want to take the mystery out of the process and give Michiganders a better sense of the personal injury timeline.
If you suffered injuries in an accident that wasn’t your fault, call or contact us today to learn how a personal injury attorney can help you seek justice and compensation for your injuries. The first consultation is free. In fact, you don’t pay us anything until we win your case for you.
What Is the Personal Injury Claims Process?
Filing a personal injury claim gives victims of negligence the means to pursue meaningful compensation for their injuries. A wide range of accidents fall under the umbrella of personal injury law, such as slip-and-falls, motor vehicle accidents, and dog bites, among others.
There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy to a personal injury case. But most cases start with filing a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. However, there are times when a personal injury lawsuit is the best path forward. Before making any decisions, it would be wise to speak with an experienced attorney.
Initial Appointment with a Personal Injury Lawyer
The personal injury claims process begins with a conversation. At Christensen Law, we offer accident victims a free case review. During this consultation, you will sit down with a knowledgeable attorney to discuss the details of your case. This can also be done over Zoom, if you prefer.
During the first case evaluation, be very open with your attorney. Provide them with the facts surrounding the incident. Share any documents, photographs, or other information that you have to give them a better understanding of what happened. This will give your attorney the information required to determine whether you have a valid legal claim and what types of compensation you may be entitled to.
During your case evaluation, take notes. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions. The initial consultation is your opportunity to learn how we can help you through the process.
Researching Statutes and Case Law
Every case requires meticulous research. First, an attorney will dig into the accident timeline. In Michigan, victims of motor vehicle and slip and fall accidents only have three years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. An attorney must verify this timeline early so they can meet critical deadlines. If a government vehicle or a public bus is involved, there are much shorter notice requirements that must be met. You may eventually need to file a lawsuit if negotiations with an insurer stall or break down, and an expired statute of limitations could mean you lose your right to compensation.
An attorney may also research similar cases to find legal precedents that may apply to your case during this time. These legal patterns can help an attorney strengthen your claim.
Your legal team will also be busy investigating the accident and gathering proof to support your claim. Evidence may include witness statements, medical records, police accident reports, photographs, video surveillance footage, cell phone records, witness testimony, and investigations by expert witnesses.
Preparing Settlement Demand Letters
Once the evidence and documentation are organized, your personal injury attorney will prepare a demand package to send to the insurer. This package includes information about the extent of your injuries, your projected prognosis, and the overall facts about the accident. The package will also include a demand for fair compensation while outlining your losses.
An insurance adjuster will review the settlement package and may request more information from your attorney. They may also wish to talk more in-depth about the details of the settlement demand letters.
Negotiating a Settlement Agreement
An insurer rarely agrees to the first settlement demand. Insurance agencies are for-profit companies. It is in their best interest to keep settlements low and profits high by making the lowest payout possible.
Most likely, an insurer will respond to your settlement demand by offering a lower sum of money than you requested. You and your attorney can review this figure and respond in a way that leads to a sum that fairly and adequately accounts for your losses.
If the initial offer is unacceptable, negotiations will continue between the insurer and your lawyer to reach a mutual agreement. There may come a point where an insurer stops negotiating in good faith or negotiations break down entirely. When this happens, a lawsuit could be your best course of action for recovering compensation.
If the early negotiations fail, your attorney may recommend filing a personal injury lawsuit. The case may still settle before going to trial. Most cases go through a mediation process, which is when all parties meet with an impartial mediator in an attempt to reach an agreement. If the dispute is not resolved, your case will continue to trial. The odds are high that your lawsuit will reach a settlement without a trial, as 98 percent of cases reach a settlement without a trial. But, we do go to trial in many cases so we are always preparing every case as if it will go to trial.
If your case goes to trial, you will be completely prepared by your trial team. During a trial, your attorney will present the court with the facts of the case and evidence proving the at-fault party’s liability and the medical proof of your injuries. The jury will consider all arguments and then make a legally binding judgment.
Factors That Could Extend Personal Injury Timelines
Personal injury claims are not resolved overnight. However, some claims can take longer than others. Some of the factors that can extend the timeline for your case include:
- The complexity of the accident
- If there are questions over who is at fault
- If multiple people are involved in an accident
- The severity of a victim’s injuries
- The caseload in your particular jurisdiction
- An insurer’s willingness to settle
Understandably, many accident victims want compensation as soon as possible to pay their bills and move on with life. Unfortunately, a speedy settlement may benefit the insurer more than the victim. Talk to your attorney about your situation, your potential personal injury timeline, and your options for managing your financial obligations while your case is pending.
Contact Christensen Law Today
If you have been hurt in an accident caused by another party’s recklessness, contact a Michigan personal injury attorney with Christensen Law today. Our award-winning personal injury attorneys will fight aggressively to obtain maximum compensation for your losses.
Call or contact us today to get started.