Most Americans have never been in court, let alone sued someone. It is not uncommon to speak with injured people who tell us that they did not believe in suing others before they were injured. But now, after being injured by a company’s negligence, they understand that it is the only way to get the compensation needed to help with medical bills and lost wages. But remember, most lawsuits do not end up going to trial and the vast majority of suits are settled out of court. Below is a list of steps involved in a personal injury case.
Here To Ease Your Stress
If you or a loved one has been injured you are probably feeling a lot of stress, pressure and are worried about getting the compensation you need to put your life back together. We are here to ease your burden and help you with filing a personal injury claim to protect your rights.
Step 1: Seek Medical Treatment in Indianapolis
If you are reading this, you or your injured loved one has already left the area where the injury occurred and hopefully has already sought medical assistance. As a general rule of thumb, your first step after being injured due to someone else’s negligence is to seek medical treatment. If you fail to see a doctor, the insurance company will later say that you were not really injured or that your injury really wasn’t that bad. So step one is…go see a doctor.
Step 2: Know the Statute of Limitations
If you are injured, you must be diligent about protecting your right to compensation. There is a statute of limitations for each type of injury. You must file a Complaint in court before the statute of limitations expires or you will be forever barred from receiving compensation. Generally, in Indiana the statute of limitations for an injury claim is two years from the date of the negligence that caused the injury. There are some exceptions to this, and only an attorney can tell you when your statute of limitations expires. Because of the technicalities in the law related to determining when the statute of limitations expires, it is very important to hire a lawyer to help you with this. But remember it is your responsibility to be diligent in protecting your right to compensation. Don’t wait to call an attorney.
Step 3: Don’t Talk to an Insurance Company Unless it is YOUR Insurance Company
If you are injured, the insurance company for the person who harmed you may try to contact you. They may want to take your statement and ask you what happened. They may be very friendly and comforting. This is by design. They want resolve your claim for injuries for as little money as possible. If you talk to them or give them a statement, they may use what you say to show that your injuries are better, that you are back to normal, and that you don’t have any long-term problems from the accident.
Step 4: Don’t Sign Anything from an Insurance Company Unless it is from YOUR Insurance Company
If you are injured, the insurance company for the person who harmed may offer you a settlement. They may even send you settlement papers to encourage you to settle, even if you don’t agree to settle. Don’t sign something from an insurance company until you have consulted with an attorney. If you settle your claim, you will be forever barred from receiving any additional compensation for your injuries.
Step 5: How to Evaluate the Attorney
Your choice of an attorney is an important one. It can make the difference between winning and losing your case. During your meetings ask each lawyer about his or her experience, how he or she communicates with clients and any other questions you may have. During your meeting, the attorneys will ask you many questions about your case to get a better understanding of the likelihood of success. If one of the lawyers makes promises about how much money you should expect to receive, I suggest you leave. A good attorney will take the time to investigate your case.
Step 6: How Are Personal Injury Lawyers Paid in Indianapolis, IN
Most personal injury attorneys are paid only if they win money for you. This is called a "contingency" basis, which means the attorney is paid contingent on winning your case. Usually, the lawyer's fee is between 33% and 40% of your recovery. So the lawyer is not paid until the end of your case. If you have any questions about the attorney's fee you need to ask BEFORE you sign a contract to retain the lawyer.
Step 7: The Investigation in Indianapolis, IN
Investigating your case is vital for your personal injury lawyer to fully comprehend how your injury occurred and to learn the scope of your injuries, damages, and costs you have incurred. Once your personal injury attorney comprehends your case he or she will typically contact the insurance company and/or the insurance company’s attorney.
The best personal injury attorneys will keep you informed of any significant developments, including negotiations, while your case is pending. During this time, you should concentrate on your recovery, rehabilitation, and getting back to a normal life.
Step 8: Do We have to go to Court? Negotiating a Settlement in Indianapolis
It is not uncommon for a personal injury claim, like car accidents, to be settled before even filing a lawsuit. During the negotiation phase, your attorney may be presented with an offer of settlement from the insurance company. Your lawyer will discuss the offer with you and provide you with an opinion on whether or not you should accept the offer. While your attorney will give his or her opinion on the offer, it is ultimately your decision to accept or reject the settlement offer.
Step 9: Filing Your Lawsuit in Indianapolis
If you have reached this phase then you and the insurance company have not reached an agreement...yet...and you and your lawyer have decided to file a lawsuit in court. The judge will set several deadlines for each of the phases that will occur before going to trial. The process of moving through these phases can take months or even several years. There are three primary phases.
Phase 1: Complaint and Answer
A civil lawsuit is initiated by filing a pleading called a complaint. You will be called the plaintiff. The plaintiff is the person initiating the action and submits a complaint stating how you were injured, the extent of your injuries, and what damages you are seeking. It generally must be filed in the county where your injury occurred or where the person who injured you lives.
The Defendant is the person being sued and must be notified of the lawsuit. Typically, the defendant is provided notice of the lawsuit by sending a copy of the complaint and a summons by certified mail or is served in person by a deputy sheriff or process server (like you see on TV). After receiving a copy of the complaint the defendant must respond with an Answer within a set period of time. In the Answer, the defendants either admits or denies the allegations of the Complaint.
Phase 2: Discovery
During the discovery phase, each party can obtain evidence from the opposing party. This is done by asking the other party for answers to Interrogatories (the legal word for questions), requests for production of documents, and requests for admissions. Discovery can be obtained from non-parties using subpoenas. Oral discovery is known as depositions. During depositions, witnesses, experts, and each party answer questions asked by the lawyers.
Phase 3: Pretrial Motions
Either party can file a motion with the Court before or after the discovery phase asking the Court to take action on their behalf. For instance, the Defendant can file a motion with the Court asking for the entire case to be dismissed. Your personal injury attorney has a limited period of time to file a written response opposing the motion. The Court may require a hearing requiring both parties to present their side in during an oral argument.
Step 9: Mediation
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution. The mediator, who is generally another lawyer, serves as a neutral party to help the parties reach an agreement that both sides can live with. Mediations allow the parties to accept or reject the other party’s settlement offer. Either side can request mediation at any time during the case. But generally, mediation is required before a trial. In fact, most courts require mediation before trial. The vast majority of cases (approximately 95% or more) are resolved via negotiation or mediation. If the parties reach an agreement at mediation, the agreement is binding and trial is not necessary. If the parties are unable to negotiate a settlement at mediation, the case will likely move to trial.
Step 10: Trial
A personal injury trial has several different segments. During the trial your attorney will present your side to the judge or jury, then the defendant will present their evidence. The segments of a personal injury trial include:
- Jury selection
- Opening statements
- Witness testimony and cross-examination
- Closing arguments
- Jury deliberations and verdict
After both parties have presented their evidence, the jury will decide: (1) if the defendant is legally responsible (liable) for your injuries, and (2) if so, how much the defendant must pay you for your damages.
Contact Our Personal Injury Attorneys in Indianapolis, Indiana Today
The process of progressing through a personal injury case is multifaceted and requires your lawyer to make complex decisions. You need to trust that your attorney has your best interest in mind and has the expertise to move forward with your case. You only have one shot at your case, and finding the right Indianapolis personal injury attorney can make the difference between success and failure with your claim.
You Are Our Top Priority
Our phones are answered 24/7 by friendly people so we can discuss your case with you. We make it a priority to answer all of your questions as soon as possible. We provide every potential personal injury client with a free initial consultation so we can listen to your story and prepare a plan of action. We are passionate about the law and will explain all of your options to you so you are fully prepared to move forward.
For compassionate, honest, and dedicated representation from Emerson Divorce & Accident Injury Attorneys LLC, call us today. There is no cost to talk to us about your injury.
We’re Here to Help You!
We are available by phone 24/7 to discuss your case, and we make it a priority to answer all of your questions as soon as possible.(317) 969-8000
What Our Clients Say
Very professional and knowledgeable, and fighter when needed.”
- Tyler Height, Emerson Law Client
JR is a problem solver, he works well with people and is very comfortable in court. My ex and I are decent friends and JR made this a very easy thing for us. I hope you the same! Glad I chose JR, couldn't have imagined this going any smoother than this!”
- Amanda, Emerson Law Client