Working with a personal injury lawyer to file a claim, also termed a lawsuit, is common for victims of others’ neglect or wrongdoing. The attorney handles the legal aspects of filing a case, such as determining whether a legal breach has occurred and whether compensation can be collected on behalf of the victim. Legal pleadings, such as the Complaint and related documents, will also be filed on the plaintiff’s behalf. A schedule of legal proceedings, as well as interactions with the defendant’s attorney, likewise fall under the purview of the plaintiff’s attorney. Helping a plaintiff to answer interrogatories and prepare for a deposition may need to be done, as well. Final arrangements for trial or a settlement agreement, which may include paying the plaintiff’s medical providers and recouping any lost wages or other costs related to the injury are among the final tasks accomplished by attorneys to conclude a personal injury lawsuit.
You should plan to set aside time to assist your attorney with each of the above, as needed. For starters, you will need to discuss the case in detail and inform the attorney about the particulars, such as county or city where the injury occurred, medical professionals’ names who evaluated the injuries or provided treatment, and follow-up therapy if required. A list of medical providers, along with dates of service and any amounts paid by your medical insurance provider as well as out-of-pocket costs like deductibles or copays would be helpful. The list may need to be updated periodically if extended treatment is needed or new symptoms emerge for evaluation. It is helpful to include the patient’s file number if applicable, along with the names and contact information of all medical professionals who were consulted about the injuries sustained or suspected to be related to the accident or injury that has resulted in patient losses of health or income.
A timeline is also a helpful personal record. Notations should be dated and can be brief, consisting of a few sentences or a short paragraph unless more detailed explanation is needed. It is usually helpful to include injury-related events, symptoms, medical treatment, impact on job performance, and personal lifestyle adjustments, if applicable. Some victims update their timelines weekly, while others may need to add notes on a monthly basis.
Your personal injury attorney may ask you to sign medical releases or other release-type documents to obtain information that could be pertinent to your case. These give permission to doctors and other medical personnel to release your records to your attorney or to the defendant’s attorney for review. Work-related releases may provide information about lost job wages due to the nature of your injuries or the need for special job accommodations if you can no longer perform your regular job duties. If you are assigned to another work position, that information would likely be helpful, as well.
You may be asked to provide copies of recent tax returns, along with job salary information. Prompt compliance will help to expedite the processing of your claim. Your lawyer will probably want to discuss deposition guidelines, and eventually, courtroom protocols if your case proceeds to trial. A deposition may last a couple of hours. Legal consultations of this type are infrequent and seldom last more than an hour or two, but they are important.
When all injury- and loss-related information has been collected and evaluated, a settlement conference may be recommended by the court. This provides the opportunity for both sides to summarize their positions and support while negotiating a settlement offer to conclude the case. Settlement conferences can last an hour or two, or all day. If negotiations are unsuccessful, the case will proceed to trial. Personal injury trials may last days or weeks, based on the extent of the injuries and number of experts called by each side. Up to and during the trial, settlement offers may be exchanged between the plaintiff’s and defendant’s lawyers, and the case could be settled before it goes to trial.
Assuming the case goes to trial, you will need to be present each day in court unless your attorney advises you differently. You may need some preparation time as well as consultation time with your attorney to decide how to proceed.
Typically, a personal injury case does not require day-to-day involvement by the plaintiff. A modest amount of consultation time will be needed, along with preparation time for significant events. At the time of trial, more time may be needed, but that follows months or even a year or more of the discovery phase of litigation.
If you believe your injuries deserve legal compensation, and if you have the means to prove your injuries were caused by another person’s negligence or failure, you will probably decide to invest the time needed to help your attorney legally represent your position and request suitable compensation for your losses. However, mitigating circumstances like poor health or living abroad could intervene. If so, your attorney can discuss alternate ways of litigating your claim in your absence, for example, using videoconferencing if permitted by the court.
A personal injury claim can often help an injured person collect remuneration for losses that have severely impacted or damaged his or her life. A lawyer can help to evaluate the merits of a personal injury claim and advise you on whether and how to proceed.