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There are many steps to a personal injury claim. Things can get very complex and confusing to say the least. We've broken down every step of a personal injury process to show just how complex a claim can truly be.
The crash/incident + Injury: Obviously, this must occur first for a claim to result. Car crash, slip and fall, etc…
Medical Treatment: Getting medical treatment in a reasonable time post incident is extremely important. Wait too long, and you will have to prove that the medical care you sought and received was truly related to the incident. How long is too long? All cases are different, but generally, you should see a medical provider no later than 1 week post-incident.
Hire An Attorney: There is no time frame required for this, but keep in mind, dealing with insurance companies is neither easy nor pleasant. Everything you say can be twisted, turned and used against you. What to say? What not to say? Without experience in this area, you cannot possibly know. An experienced attorney will be your mouthpiece. Find the right one for you.
Investigate and secure evidence: Often, investigation of the facts, the scene and preservation of evidence can be crucial to winning your case. This is another piece where an experienced attorney can be your best asset.
Track medical care and client recovery: If you need treatment, therapy or MRIs and specialists, this takes time. A good attorney will stay in tough, track your medical are and make recommendation based upon his experience. Gather all medical records and evidence, and prepare for presentation to the insurance company; All along the way, your law firm should be gathering medical records and bills.
When your medical care ends, then a final request for these meds can be made, and your injury file be completed for review and preparation of the settlement to be sent to the insurance companies.
Submit the Claim for Settlement: In conjunction with the attorney’s review and discussion with you, a value range for your case will be assessed, and the settlement package sent for insurance company consideration.
Negotiate: Eventually, the insurance company will contact your attorney to make an offer. The negotiation will begin, and may require multiple exchanges before a settlement is reached.
File a Lawsuit: Sometimes, the insurance companies just see it a different way, and settlement is not reach. At this point, you know you have the right attorney if he is willing to fight for you, file a lawsuit and do what is needed to prove the insurance company wrong.
Conduct Discovery: This is the investigation phase of the lawsuit called litigation) process. You can request information from the other side, and they can request the same from you. Experts can be retained, and all witnesses “deposed” to determine exactly what they have to say regarding the issues in the case.
Mediation/Arbitration: Often, cases can be resolved without going to trial. An “arbitration” is when you choose a neutral decision-maker in the case, to hear both sides and make a final ruling which the parties agree to honor. A “mediation” is when you choose a neutral evaluator to sit down talk to everyone to help bring the sides together to reach a mutually agreeable result.
Trial: Not all cases can be settled. If a trial is needed, the court will obtain a jury (people from the community) to come to court, listen to both sides and make a decision as to who is right, and the proper amount of money that should be awarded for the injuries and damages.
Appeal: If a party who loses at trial believes error caused them to lose, then can appeal the result to the Arizona Court of Appeals, and then, the Arizona Supreme Court. The entire purpose of these courts is to review the decisions made in the trial courts, look for error, and help change the result if error is found.