If you have reason to file a personal injury claim, prepare for what may be a long and complicated legal process. Although you may wish to resolve your claim as quickly as possible, it is important not to rush into a settlement. With help from a personal injury lawyer in Missouri, you can navigate the personal injury claims process in a way that will optimize your results.
Attorney Will Examine If the PI Case Is Worth Pursuing
First, you will meet with a personal injury attorney for an initial consultation. The consultation allows you to ask questions and get answers from a trained and experienced legal professional. It also serves as a case evaluation, where the attorney will examine whether or not your case is worth pursuing, along with the probability of success.
To prepare for your initial consultation, create a list of questions about your accident. Ask questions about the attorney’s experience and credentials, as well. If you have any documents related to your accident, such as medical records, evidence of missed work or an accident report, bring these with you to the consultation. If the lawyer believes your case has merit, he or she may offer to represent you.
Independent Medical Examination After Injury
In general, an injured victim will seek medical care from the nearest hospital or his or her primary care doctor after an accident. If you get injured in an accident, you decide who is in charge of your initial medical treatment. Your attorney or the attorney for the defendant’s side of your personal injury case, however, may request that you also get an independent medical examination (IME).
An IME is normally performed by a licensed doctor who has experience or special training in the area of medicine related to your case. Although the name makes it seem like an IME is unbiased, your lawyer will tell you it is anything but; in many personal injury cases, the insurance company chooses the doctor performing the IME for a reason. Your lawyer can advise you on whether or not to submit to an independent medical examination, what to expect during your IME, and how the IME report might factor into your claim.
The Attorney Negotiates for a Settlement
Almost all personal injury claims in Missouri settle. This means the parties involved in the dispute resolve the case on their own, without involving a judge or jury. Your personal injury attorneys will attempt to reach a settlement by preparing a demand letter and sending it to the defendant’s insurance provider. Your lawyer will frame the demand letter in a way that will increase your odds of obtaining a fair and full amount for injuries and losses. Your lawyer can add up your economic damages and accurately calculate your noneconomic damages (pain and suffering) to demand the right amount. Then, your lawyer can negotiate with the insurance claims adjuster for the settlement you deserve.
A Personal Injury Lawsuit Is Filed
If the insurance company refuses to acknowledge the real value of your case, or if you receive a wrongful claim denial, your attorney can file a personal injury lawsuit with the civil courts in your county against the defendant. A lawsuit has several parts:
- Discovery phase
- Mediation and negotiation
- Pretrial motions
- Jury selection
- Personal injury trial
- Jury deliberation and verdict
- Appeal, in some cases
Your case could settle at any point leading up to the actual date of your trial. If it doesn’t settle, your attorney will represent you in court for the best possible case outcome. A personal injury trial can take longer and cost more money than a settlement, but if you obtain a positive verdict, you could receive greater financial compensation for your losses. To learn more about what to expect from the personal injury claims process in Missouri, as well as for assistance with each step of a claim, contact our Kansas City law firm to learn more for a better understanding.