Personal Injury claims are as varied as you can imagine, which makes it difficult to identify a timeline for a settlement to be reached without considering the facts of the case. Some personal injury claims are settled within a few months; however, those involving a fatality or serious personal injury, can take years to settle or litigate.
The first step in any injury accident is to speak to your attorney before accepting a settlement offer from an insurance adjustor. Insurance companies know injury victims desire to quickly settle claims and they often take advantage of this fact by seeking acceptance of an offer before you speak to an attorney. You can waive your ability to seek additional compensation, if you accept a personal injury settlement offer without considering all your methods of recover. Although an immediate check is satisfying, the money may run out long before all the medical issues / pain and suffering are still on going.
Why do Personal Injury Claims Take Time?
Personal injury claims take time for a number of reasons; a primary cause is the number of steps necessary to ensure you receive full compensation for your injury. Insurance companies will not pay more than a policy limit, even when the injury is clearly far greater than the policy limit. An unfortunately common event. Take the following example, your injuries and medical bills total $150,000; however, the other party has $100,000 as a policy limit. The insurance company will offer no more than $100,000, potentially less. Once insurance liability has been met; the insurance company has not obligation to pay your additional damages. Even receiving 2/3 of your damages presumes that the other party accepts liability outright, an uncommon event.
Establishing a powerful argument for the other party’s causing your personal injury accident is a crucial part of a good personal injury lawyers work.
Fault State Liability Determination
Oklahoma is a Fault state, meaning you must be less than 50% at fault in order to recover damages following an accident. In order to build a personal injury case, for settlement or litigation, you may have to prove that you are less than 50% responsible for the accident. In complex or serious cases, building your case may include hiring accident reconstructionist, medical experts, and other experts to fight your case. In order to build a case for damages an investigation may be necessary from your personal injury attorney for months.
Types of Damages in a Personal Injury Case
- Current and future medical and rehabilitation expenses
- Current and future lost wages
- Collateral consequences of permanent injuries, i.e. paralysis or loss of physical abilities
- Property Damages
- Pain and Suffering
What is Pain and Suffering Compensation for?
Most of the identified types of personal injury case damages identified above are based on concrete losses or expenses. However, “Pain and Suffering” is a more of an objective type of harm. Pain and suffering will not be considered in insurance company initial settlements and addresses the undefinable damages that come for dealing with the injury suffered in a serious personal injury case. These damages are intended to financially compensate a personal injury victim for losses that are difficult to define.
Process of an Oklahoma Personal Injury Claim
There are two processes to consider in a personal injury claim: settlement and litigation. Although settlement and litigation have some overlap; settlement is typically considered and pursued prior to filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Settlement Prior to Personal Injury Lawsuit
The settlement path involves research and investigation into the causes of the personal injury claim and least likely and most likely outcomes of settlement. Once your personal injury attorney has fully investigated the points of your personal injury claim, injuries, and future damages; a Demand Letter will likely be drafted and set to the responsible party or their insurance company.
Often insurance companies refuse to provide fair compensation to protect their bottom line and a personal injury lawsuit must be filed. The filing of a personal injury lawsuit begins the litigation process. However, in many cases with experienced application of Oklahoma personal injury laws and Fierce Advocacy your personal injury attorney will be able to reach a fair settlement without you ever having to go to court or file a lawsuit.
Personal Injury Lawsuit
If your injuries or damages are too great to be resolved by settlement or the other party / the other party’s insurance company is unwilling to provide you fair compensation, a personal injury lawsuit may be necessary. Personal injury lawsuits are rare, as more than 75% of claims are resolved by settlement; however, this fact makes it even more important to hire a Fierce Advocate for your personal injury claim, if you decide to file a lawsuit.
Similar to other types of civil lawsuits, the first major phase after filing a personal injury lawsuit is the discovery phase. During discovery, both your personal injury plaintiff attorney and the insurance defense attorney will gather information to support their opposing claims. The attorneys will interview witnesses, conduct depositions of witnesses, review documents/medical records and reports, and serve discovery requests on the other party, which they are required to answer under oath. Your attorney must aggressively conduct discovery, in order to build a successful claim for trial or to strengthen your personal injury claim to force the other party to a settlement.
Negotiation and Mediation
After all the facts, claims, and defenses are laid, your personal injury lawyer and the defense attorney will likely negotiate around settlement of your personal injury claim. Your reward or damages will increase, if your personal injury lawyer can show the significance of your injury and its future effects on your life. Fierce Advocacy in the discovery phase and experienced negotiation can result in a great settlement offer resulting at this phase. In some cases, the litigation will move on to formal mediation.
In a formal personal injury mediation, the parties meet with a neutral third party with experience in personal injury litigation. The party may be appointed by the judge over your personal injury lawsuit or may be agreed upon by the parties. Both parties will draft mediation statements, including evidence that supports the party’s position and the mediator will make a recommendation for settlement and amount; after hearing the arguments of your attorney and the defense. Even fewer cases survive this phase of litigation; however, some proceed to personal injury trials.
Personal Injury Trial
After an unsuccessful personal injury mediation, a trial scheduling order will be put in place and a trial date will be set in the future based on the schedule of the parties and the Court. Additional preparation will take place before your personal injury trial, including accident reconstruction, expert testimony preparation, witness preparation, and other steps to put your best case forward.
Although, the litigation process in a personal injury case, as in any case, may take over a year; the time and effort is well worth it to seek the compensation you deserve and need to deal with a serious personal injury. Severe injuries cause significant damages, some of which can never be fully compensated. It is crucial to ensure the personal injury law firm you work with has experienced trial attorneys and Fierce Advocates to take your case all the way, if necessary.
The Personal Injury Attorneys at Cannon & Associates are FIERCE ADVOCATES for those injured due to the negligence of another person or company. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of someone’s negligence or willful act, call us for a free confidential case evaluation. Edmond Personal Injury Attorneys at Cannon & Associates are FIERCE ADVOCATES and available to talk to you today. Call Cannon & Associates at (405) 657-2323 and prepare your case.
Contact – Cannon & Associates: Oklahoma Personal Injury Advocates
Experience matters when you or a loved one has been injured or died as a result of the negligence of someone in a vehicle accident in Oklahoma. It is important to know the Oklahoma personal injury lawyer you hire is dedicated to your cause and versed in all aspects of car accident law in Oklahoma.
Cannon & Associates is dedicated to Fierce Advocacy for accident victims and will fight for you. Founder John Cannon has been recognized as a Super Lawyer and Top 40 under 40. Contact Cannon & Associates to protect your rights and fight for compensation in your car accident case in Oklahoma. Complete the CONTACT FORM ON THIS PAGE NOW or CALL at 405-657-2323 for a free confidential case evaluation.