If you have been injured in a car crash, a slip and fall, or any other type of accident, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the person who caused your injuries. People often want to know how long their personal injury case will take. While there is no one answer to the question, there are several common steps in all personal injury lawsuits that can help you estimate how long your case will take. Below, our experienced attorney outlines the general personal injury timeline.
Meet With a Lawyer
The first thing you should do after being in an accident is to speak to an Arizona personal injury lawyer. The majority of personal injury lawyers offer free consultations. During the free consultation, an attorney will ask many questions to understand the nature of your accident and how it occurred. You should be prepared to ask many questions, as well. A free consultation is not only to determine if you will proceed with a lawsuit, but also whether you will work with that specific attorney.
One of the most valuable aspects of working with a lawyer is that they will collect evidence that supports your case. This allows you to focus on your recovery and getting better. The most common examples of strong evidence in personal injury lawsuits include the following:
- Police reports, particularly if you were in a car accident
- Electronic crash data
- Accident reconstruction data
- Eyewitness statements
- Photos and videos of the accident scene
- Medical records and invoices
Your lawyer may ask you for certain pieces of evidence, such as pay stubs or medical bills. It is important to provide these items as soon as possible when they are requested. Failing to provide this evidence right away can create unnecessary delays in your case.
The Demand Letter
After your lawyer has collected evidence to strengthen your case, they will send a demand letter, also sometimes called a settlement offer, to the negligent party or the insurance company or lawyer representing them. The demand letter will outline the facts of the case and detail why the negligent party is liable. The demand letter typically also asks for a certain amount of money to settle the case. Your lawyer will also attach supporting documents to the demand letter, such as police reports, medical bills, and eyewitness statements.
Demand letters provide the other side with an opportunity to settle the case without incurring the additional expense and time associated with filing a lawsuit. If the negligent party accepts the offer, your lawyer will draft a settlement agreement and collect the damages. More likely, the other side will make a counteroffer. If your attorney believes the counteroffer is reasonable, they may continue negotiating without filing a lawsuit. If the negligent party declines the initial offer and does not make a fair counteroffer, your lawyer may file a lawsuit.
File the Complaint
If a suitable settlement is not reached after your lawyer has sent the demand letter, they will likely file a lawsuit. This step involves filing a summons and complaint with the appropriate court and serving the summons and complaint on the negligent party. For the majority of personal injury lawsuits in Arizona, you must file the lawsuit and serve the other side within two years of the accident that caused your accident.
The Discovery Process
The discovery process allows each side an opportunity to review the evidence that is being presented by the other party. It essentially places both sides on a level playing field so there are no surprises during the case. Generally speaking, one side can ask the other for any information that is relevant to the case, and that is not considered privileged, such as private correspondence between you and your personal injury lawyer. The four main tools used during discovery are as follows:
- Depositions: During a deposition, the lawyers for each side ask questions to a witness or opposing party. The person being deposed must answer the questions while under oath.
- Requests for production: One side can ask the other to produce physical evidence, which is known as a request for production.
- Interrogatories: Questions can be sent from one party to the other in written form. The answers must also be sent in writing and are also given under oath.
- Requests for admission: One side may ask the other to confirm that certain facts are true, which is known as a request for admission.
Negotiations can continue during a lawsuit until a final verdict is made. Your lawyer will continue to try and negotiate a fair settlement during the discovery process. Your lawyer may also suggest mediation, which can help you and the other side reach a fair settlement. The right lawyer will not be intimidated by the thought of a trial but will still understand the benefit of reaching a reasonable settlement outside of the trial process.
Pre-Trial Hearings and Motions
A pre-trial motion is a request to the court to resolve a certain issue before the trial starts. For example, a motion in limine asks the court to determine if certain evidence is admissible. A motion to compel, on the other hand, asks the judge to force the other party to take certain actions, such as producing discovery requests.
The vast majority of personal injury cases settle before they go to trial. Still, a trial is necessary when the two opposing sides cannot reach a fair settlement offer. During the trial, both sides will present their evidence and arguments to the judge or jury, depending on the case, and a decision will then be made.
Call Our Personal Injury Lawyers in Arizona for Legal Help
It is critical to work with an Arizona personal injury lawyer after any accident. At Impact Legal, our seasoned attorneys can guide you through the process so you receive the fair damages you need as quickly as possible. Call us now at 602-345-1818 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about the impact we can make.