If you’ve been injured due to the negligent actions of another, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit in order to recover compensation for your damages. When facing costly medical bills and lost wages due to missing work while you heal, a personal injury settlement can be a crucial way to stay financially afloat during this difficult time in your life.
The personal injury process can be long and complex. By understanding the steps involved, the process can seem much less stressful and overwhelming. Below is an explanation of the potential steps associated with a personal injury claim. Depending on the specifics of your case, it is possible that not all of these steps will apply. During your complimentary consultation at our office in Oklahoma City, one of our attorneys will discuss this process with you in greater detail and answer any questions you may have.
You Suffer an Injury
In order to have a valid personal injury claim, you must suffer an accident or injury caused by the negligence of another. Your injury can potentially be caused by a variety of incidents, including:
This list is by no means exhaustive. Regardless of the cause of your accident, it’s crucial that the negligent actions of a third party were primarily responsible for the damages you suffered. In addition, you must suffer an injury that results in some sort of financial loss.
For example, if you suffer a slip and fall accident on a wet floor at a grocery store and only sustain a bruise that heals on its own in a few days, you are unlikely to be able to recover compensation. However, if this slip and fall accident resulted in broken bones that required medical treatment, you are much more likely to recover compensation in a personal injury claim.
Seek Medical Treatment
After the accident, you should seek medical treatment as soon as you can even if you don’t appear to be seriously injured. In some instances, such as with a brain injury, it may take days or weeks for symptoms to develop. By seeking prompt treatment, you will ensure all injuries are detected right away. Often, timely medical treatment can prevent additional complications from developing and increase your likelihood of a full recovery.
One additional benefit of seeking prompt medical treatment is that it will help document that your injuries were in fact caused by the accident. If symptoms take time to develop, insurance companies will often try to claim that your injury was caused by a different incident. Therefore, having documentation from a medical professional can significantly strengthen your case.
Speak with a Personal Injury Lawyer
Insurance companies will often try to convince you to accept a settlement right away. This is never in your best interest. The insurance company is not on your side. Their goal is to minimize the amount of money they must pay on your claim.
Therefore, it’s crucial to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help ensure your rights are protected every step of the way. In fact, a study conducted by the Insurance Research Council found that personal injury victims who work with an attorney receive a 3.5 times larger settlement on overage than those who negotiate with the insurance company on their own.
Investigate Your Claim
During your complimentary consultation, our lawyers will listen carefully to your story in order to get a clear understanding of the events that occurred. We will then advise you of your legal options and start building a case on your behalf.
This process involves gathering as much evidence as possible regarding your accident and injury. We will review your medical records from the injury to get a better sense of the current medical issues you are dealing with. Our attorneys will also compile evidence regarding the specific events associated with your injury. This may involve:
- Reviewing photos you took at the accident scene
- Interviewing witnesses who can provide additional details about what happened
- Reviewing any police reports or other accident reports filed at the time of your injury
- When appropriate, examining the accident scene in person
Negotiate with the Insurance Company
Many personal injury cases never make it to trial. Often, a fair settlement can be negotiated with the insurance company. This is the ideal outcome since it will reduce the time associated with your claim and ensure you receive this important compensation as quickly as possible.
However, it’s important to understand that our lawyers will never settle your case if we feel it is not in your best interests. If the insurance company doesn’t offer a settlement that reflects the fair value of your loss, we will be prepared to fight for your rights in court.
Filing Your Personal Injury Lawsuit
In the event that our lawyers can’t reach a fair settlement with the insurance company, we will file a lawsuit. In Oklahoma, you have two years from the date of your injury to file a personal injury lawsuit.
There are several steps in the filing process:
- Your claim will be filed in the Circuit Court in the county where the accident took place.
- Our lawyers will request a summons be issued by the Clerk of Court. This summons, along with the complaint you’re filing and any discovery evidence, will be served on the defendant (the negligent party responsible for your injuries).
- The defendant will then respond to the charges made in your complaint.
Once the lawsuit commences, each party’s lawyers will investigate the claims made by the other side. The attorneys will send questions and document requests to each other. In addition, they will take depositions (testimony given under oath) of all witnesses and experts involved in the case. This is called the discovery process.
Mediation and Negotiation
Once the discovery process has been completed and all information has been shared, the attorneys will start negotiating a settlement. Often, it can be easier to reach a fair settlement at this stage of the process since both parties are aware of the total body of evidence that will be presented if the case goes to trial.
Sometimes, this negotiation process will just involve the attorneys. In other instances, these negotiations are handled as part of a mediation process. In mediation, a neutral third party, called a mediator, will meet with both sides in an attempt to help them reach a fair agreement.
If a settlement can’t be reached during negotiation or mediation, your case will proceed to trial. The length of a personal injury trial varies from case to case. In some instances, it can take a day or two. Other times, it can take a week or possibly even longer.
During the trial, all information gathered during the discovery process will be presented to the judge or jury (if your case includes a jury). After all evidence has been presented, the lawyers will present their closing arguments and the case will be decided by the judge or jury.
It’s important to understand that there are never any guarantees regarding the outcome when your case goes to trial. In addition, there are no guarantees regarding the compensation that will be delivered in the event that the trial is decided in your favor. For this reason, it is often preferable to try and reach a settlement earlier in the process whenever possible in order to avoid this uncertainty.
Contact our Oklahoma City Personal Injury Lawyers
Please contact Johnson & Biscone using the form on this page or call 405-232-6490 today to schedule your complimentary personal injury consultation. We serve clients in Oklahoma City, Edmond, Norman and throughout Oklahoma.