[Transcript] If you’ve been injured by someone else’s negligence, you’re entering the complicated area of personal injury law. When we sit down for a new, personal injury consultation, which is a free absolutely no-cost consultation to discuss the facts of how someone was injured and what we might be able to do to help you maximize a recovery for what you’ve been through a big question I get is, “well, what’s the roadmap from me being injured to ultimately recovering something that compensates me for my injuries?”
Now, obviously, every case has different facts. Every one case is individual and none are going to be necessarily alike. However, a very general roadmap as to the process of a personal injury claim is what I want to address in this video.
So we start with the day that you are injured. That starts a two-year clock, what’s called the statute of limitations, to either settle your claim or bring a lawsuit before the expiration of those two years. That’s why it’s so important to talk to an attorney quickly after you’re injured so that we can start gathering evidence, learning what is involved in your case, and potentially, if it’s right for your case, having enough time to get what we call a pre-suit settlement. So let’s talk about the pre-suit phase of a personal injury claim. That just means that you’ve been injured and you haven’t filed a lawsuit yet. Some personal injury cases, never have a lawsuit filed, we never see the inside of a courtroom because they are settled with an insurance adjuster prior to having to file suit. There’s a lot of different factors that go into as to whether your case is a good candidate for a pre-suit settlement or not. That’s why you need a dedicated team of experienced personal injury attorneys to advise you in this process.
However, if your case is a good candidate for a pre-suit settlement, what we do is get your medical records and put together what we call a demand package. This is a demand letter that describes why we believe the other person is at fault, how they caused the total amount of damages that you have, and make some type of demand as a monetary amount for the recovery for you to settle your case. We then negotiate with the insurance adjuster, and if we get to what we believe is a fair and correct recovery for you, and you agree with that, your case is done. It’s settled. We’d never had to file suit. However, for some cases, we might need to file suit early, or it might not be able to reach a number that we believe is accurate or fair for you to recover any pre-suit settlement. So we have to file a lawsuit.
What’s the very general roadmap of a civil litigation lawsuit? It starts with a complaint a relatively simple filing that we file as the plaintiffs to start the lawsuit. There’s a document that the defense enters after that, which has an answer, an answer to our complaint. Then that opens up what will be called the discovery phase. This is where there’s an exchange of information between both parties so either side is working off the same set of facts to understand the case, to the best extent that we can.
Once the discovery phase is done, we enter what we call the settlement or mediation phase. This is to see if we can settle your case, which most cases do settle before everyone goes through the expense and risk of a jury trial. In the settlement or mediation phase, we will typically go to mediation, which is a process I explained in more detail in another video. If your case is able to be resolved at mediation, then it settles without ever having to go to trial. But if we can’t get a fair settlement for you, either party can’t agree on certain facts or the value of your case, then we need to go to a jury trial. In Indiana, personal injury cases, just like other civil litigation, are resolved with a six-person jury. That means we have a jury of six individuals, and usually a seventh alternate, that will come in to decide what they believe in the case, what the facts of the case are, and ultimately whether you’re going to recover anything. And the amount that you recover.
Trials are obviously risky, they’re expensive, and that’s why you need an experienced team of trial attorneys there with you to make sure that we present the correct evidence to show liability, causation, and damages, and ultimately maximize what will ideally be a plaintiff’s verdict for you. Now, even after a trial, that doesn’t always necessarily mean that the case is done.
Let’s say your case wasn’t able to settle at mediation. We went to trial and we got you a million-dollar verdict. That’s great. Obviously, that’s the position that we want to be in, but there’s still another phase of the litigation process that may occur if the defense decides to file what’s called an appeal, that would bring us into the appellate phase.
Almost all personal injury cases typically settle prior to trial. Some do have to go to trial to be resolved but that’s the minority of personal injury cases. Even a smaller percentage of those cases that go to trial ultimately ended up getting appealed but that means that there’s some type of legal issue that came from the trial that the other side is trying to argue, means we should either have a new trial or trying to mitigate the amount of money that was ultimately ordered by the jury in your case.
It can go to the court of appeals. If it’s a significant issue, might go to the Indiana Supreme Court. But ultimately we would have a decision from the appellate courts that may or may not affect ultimately what happened at the trial court. Obviously, most cases never go to trial and end up settling and a lot of cases that get tried don’t end up getting appealed. But that’s very generally the roadmap of civil litigation in the state of Indiana that could be a part of your personal injury case.
Obviously, like I said, at the beginning of this video, the area of personal injury is very complicated. You want a team of dedicated and especially experienced team of personal injury trial attorneys by your side, to help you navigate this complicated process. Because here at BB&C, we’re here for you and here for life, whatever that might bring.
Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended to be general and informational in nature. It is advertising material and is not intended to be, nor is it, legal advice to or for any particular person, case, or circumstance. Each situation is different, and you should consult an attorney if you have any questions about your situation.