In Indiana, accidents often occur when we’re least prepared, and in a second our lives can be transformed. Whether you’ve suffered in a car accident, a slip and fall accident on private property, or had an accident at work, you may have severe injuries as the result of someone else’s negligence.
Unfortunately, insurance companies are often reluctant to pay out expensive settlements: Your claim could be denied, undercut, or, you may be given extensive red tape to cut through. How can you ensure that you’ll receive just compensation for your pain and suffering?
By understanding the personal injury lawsuit process, you may have a better idea of your legal options.
What to know about personal injury lawsuits
According to the Federal Judicial Caseload Statistics, personal injury claims increased by a shocking 150% in 2021. In 2022, the National Safety Council (NSC) reported 62 million documented injuries in the US.
The good news about those staggering numbers is that you’re in significant company if you choose to file a personal injury lawsuit. Other statistics to help inform your decision to file a claim include:
- 95% of civil personal injury cases are settled out of court before they ever go to trial
- 90% of cases that go to trial are decided in favor of the plaintiff
- A personal injury court verdict could take 1-3 years
- Settlements on personal injury claims may take anywhere from 3 months to a few years
How can a personal injury lawyer help?
Depending on the severity of your accident and the complexities of your case, it may be wise to consult a personal injury lawyer before you even file a claim with the negligent party’s insurance provider.
An Indiana personal injury attorney can help fight for just compensation in the insurance claims process, and help you to navigate the often difficult legal road to justice. If you cannot reach an agreed settlement with the insurance company, your lawyer can guide you through the next steps to take.
Several ways a personal injury lawyer can help include:
- Gather evidence:
Your lawyer can collect evidence from the scene of your accident, including photos and video documentation, and any police or incident reports you filed.
- Explain the lawsuit and trial process:
An attorney will help deepen your understanding of the personal injury lawsuit process, and discern what steps you should take in your lawsuit.
Should your case make it to court, a personal injury lawyer will explain what you can anticipate for each day of court proceedings. They can also advise you on how your trial is going.
- File legal papers:
Most insurance and court documents have a strict filing deadline. A lawyer can ensure that all paperwork is filed in a timely manner.
- Obtain testimony:
Your lawyer can call eyewitnesses to your accident and witnesses to the trauma you’ve endured to testify on your behalf. An attorney might also hire expert forensic witnesses such as doctors and accident reconstruction experts.
- Hire private investigators:
Your legal team might also enlist a private investigator to discover evidence to strengthen your case. For example, an investigator may find a history of similar accidents involving the negligent party.
- Fight on your behalf:
A personal injury lawyer will represent you in any settlement negotiations and will fight for you should your lawsuit make it to trial.
How does the personal injury claim process work?
Before you choose to file a lawsuit against the parties responsible for your accident, you should file a claim with their (respective) insurers. Identify the responsible parties and make sure you get their contact and insurance information.
For example, if you suffered in a slip and fall or product liability accident, you may need to contact multiple insurance companies.
Once you’ve contacted the appropriate insurers, you will receive a claims number and be assigned to a claims adjuster. The adjuster is your contact person throughout the duration of your claim. If a settlement cannot be reached, you might choose to file a lawsuit.
What to know about a personal injury claim and trial
Personal injury claims may be settled quickly, and you may receive a lump sum payout. However, these payouts may often pale in comparison to your pain and suffering.
If you accept a payout without first consulting an attorney, you may find you have no further legal recourse regardless of future bills and other expenses that stem from your accident.
When should you file a personal injury lawsuit?
If an insurance company denies your claim or offers you an unfair settlement, it may be time to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you haven’t already consulted a lawyer, you should do so before you file your claim with the courts.
Per the statute of limitations in Indiana, you must file your lawsuit within two years from the date of your accident. Although it may take months or years to reach a settlement or go to trial, if you miss this time window, you may find you have no legal recourse left at your disposal.
The pretrial stages of a personal injury lawsuit
After you’ve filed a legal complaint with the courts, there are several steps that will occur before your case goes to trial. These steps in the personal injury lawsuit process include:
- Serving the defendant:
A legal process server will serve official notice and a summons to respond to the defendant in your case.
- Awaiting the defendant’s response:
Per Indiana Trial Rule 6, the parties you are targeting in your lawsuit will then have 20 days to respond to your notice.
- Participating in the discovery process:
This is the lengthiest step in the personal injury lawsuit process. Legally, discovery means that both the plaintiff and the defendant must disclose their evidence and witnesses to one another. This period will also include depositions of the witnesses.
- Pre-trial motions:
After the discovery process is complete, both the defense counsel and the plaintiff’s counsel may submit pre-trial motions. These motions allow settlements to be reached before a lawsuit can make it to trial.
- Settlement negotiations:
Negotiation or mediation meetings will occur between the representatives of both sides in order to try to reach a settlement before a trial date is scheduled. If a settlement cannot be reached, then you will need to begin preparing for your trial.
What happens in a personal injury trial?
When settlement negotiations fail, your personal injury case will be scheduled for trial. You should be prepared for the trial to take anywhere from several days to several months. Here are some of the common stages in the personal injury trial process:
- Jury selection
- Opening statements
- Testimonies and cross-examinations
- Closing Arguments
- Jury Instructions
- Jury deliberation
- Damages awarded
- Distribution of compensation
- Appeals process
How long will you have to wait for your awarded damages?
If the defendant in your personal injury case chooses to appeal the verdict, you may have to wait months, if not years, for your compensation to arrive. However, if the appeal is rejected or there is no appeal, you’ll receive your awarded damages via your attorney.
Your lawyer will take their fees from your compensation, and will pay any other outstanding debts associated with your trial. Then, you’ll receive a check for the remaining amount owed to you.
Contact Yosha Law
Understanding the personal injury lawsuit process can be complicated, but you don’t have to walk the road alone. By retaining a personal injury lawyer, you gain guidance and legal knowledge to help you along the way.
We understand the stress and trauma an accident can bring, and we want you to be able to concentrate on your recovery. At Yosha Law, our clients become members of our extended family. We will fight for your just compensation and explore the merits of your case.
Connect with us for a free consultation today.