When people think about personal injury cases, they often think of battling it out in court. However, the vast majority of cases settle before trial. In many instances, a lawsuit is never filed.
Settlements could happen via insurance claims or the victim’s lawyer may start the process of filing a lawsuit only to reach a settlement before the case gets near a courtroom.
What Happens at Pre-Litigation?
Pre-litigation is the process that occurs before any litigation is initiated. In personal injury cases, this often involves gathering information about your accident and injuries, calculating the value of your case and preparation of legal arguments about why you should be eligible for compensation.
The first step in the process is to file a claim with the insurance company that covers the defendant. You may contact the insurance company and notify them of the accident, or your personal injury lawyer can handle this task.
An insurance adjuster will be assigned to your claim to investigate. His or her job is to resolve the claim and approve as little money as possible for your claim. The insurance adjuster may try to resolve your claim through a settlement to avoid the expense of going to court, but you must have strong evidence to support your claim.
After your lawyer investigates your claim and gathers evidence to determine the amount of damages you have sustained, he or she will prepare a demand letter to the defendant’s insurance company. The demand letter will contain important information about your claim, including:
The date, time and location of the accident
A summary of the injuries you have sustained and the medical treatments you required
The amount of damages you have sustained, including the cost of your medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering
Why the defendant is legally responsible for your damages
Why the insurance company should pay for damages
The insurance company reviews the demand letter and investigates the claim. The adjuster assigned to the case will either deny the claim or make a counteroffer that is less than the amount requested in the demand letter.
This process may continue as your lawyer and the insurance company make additional counteroffers. Both sides may eventually reach a deal to settle your case. If a settlement cannot be reached, your attorney’s next step will likely be to file a complaint.
Filing a Complaint
Filing a complaint means that you sue the defendant, which begins the litigation process. The complaint should include a summons that gives official notice to the defendant that you are suing him or her and that he or she needs to respond to the legal filing to avoid a default judgment.
Your complaint will include important information, such as:
The identities of all parties involved
Why this is the proper court to be filing the complaint
Your legal claims
Facts that support your legal claims
The amount of damages you are alleging you suffered
How Long Does This Take?
The timeline for the pre-litigation process varies by each case. There are various factors that can affect how long your case may take, such as:
The nature and extent of your injuries
How clear liability is
Whether you have fully healed from your injuries
The value of your claim
The insurance provider
The attorney you select
The amount of paperwork that is involved in your claim
Many personal injury claims can be resolved within months during the pre-litigation process. If litigation is necessary, it may take more than a year for your case to go to trial.
How Can a Lawyer Help with Pre-Litigation?
If you have been injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, an experienced personal injury lawyer can guide you through the process.
The Silver Spring personal injury lawyers at Goldberg Finnegan offer a free attorney consultation so that we can answer your questions and evaluate your claim.