The Top 5 Things I Should Expect During My Personal Injury Case.
It should probably go without saying, but you should fully expect to be responsible for, and compliant with, your medical care. There is no common sense reason not to listen to your doctor. You want to recover from your personal injury. If you don't like, or don't agree with your doctor, the correct course is to switch doctors, not ignore the current one. Moreover, there are cogent legal reason for following your doctor's advice. There is no such thing as a personal injury case without a documented personal injury. Keeping your medical appointments and heeding the advice of your doctor in each of the particulars is vital in substantiating and documenting the nature and extent of your personal injury.
Missed medical appointments, or non-compliance with medical care, give rise to the argument from an insurance company that you were not hurt, or not seriously hurt.
Practically, that might not be true, but non-compliance or a failure to take medical care seriously can give rise to that contention. You should also expect to have to tell you our side of the story -and maybe more than once. Many of my clients are very happy to tell the story of how an accident happened, or what happened to them, as often as needed. Some individuals, though, are surprised to learn that they might have to give their version of events under oath in court in front of a judge or a jury. Some individuals seem frankly shocked to learn that their burden of proof consists of more than simply reciting their version of events over the phone. The reality is not every case goes to trial, and frankly most don't go to trial. There are, nevertheless events that are typically scheduled during the progression of a personal injury claim such as: depositions; recorded statements; or examinations under oath that require a truthful accounting of the events. Any personal injury case is going to involve most likely at least one, and possibly all of those events, and may additionally require, live, in person testimony at trial. Of course these formal events are in addition to explaining the case to your own insurance claims adjuster and your own attorney. You should be prepared to talk about the case and give your side of the story as often as it's required.
It is essential that all of the versions should be internally consistent, as well as consistent with other independent facts in your case.
You should expect to be met with a version of events that is different than yours. You should expect to have your positions, beliefs or arguments questioned or challenged by the other side. You, of course, may feel very strongly that your position is correct, that an accident happened the way that you said it did, and that you were injured in exactly the fashion and to the extent that you claim. Often times, the individual on the other side of the claim has a different version of events. You should anticipate the insurance company or their lawyers having questions about the nature extent and mechanism of your injury. You should expect to have your positions challenged. As a plaintiff, you should expect to have to prove that your version is the most consistent, logical and believable. Of course, as seasoned personal injury attorney will provide guidance, but your credibility and sincerity can go a long way to making a successful case.
On a related note, you should expect to listen to the points of view on the other side and give those points of view reasoned consideration. If what the other side saying is ridiculous outlandish, or on the lower end of the spectrum just improbable, then an experienced personal injury lawyer will probably tell you to simply ignore or discount what's coming from the other side. However
... where the information and input coming from the other side is reasonable, plausible or possible, or is something that your lawyer says a judge or a jury could ultimately end up believing, then you might need to give greater weight to their position.
Where the details and specifics are such that a reasonable juror, or reasonable person sitting in the position of a judge or a juror could come down on one side or the other, perhaps a compromise is appropriate. While no attorney worth his or her salt would ever suggest that you settle the case just for the sake of settling it, all cases, whether litigated or not, involve some element of risk. The outcome of any trial is never guaranteed. Based on all of the facts and developments in the case, a compromise might be appropriate and in your best interest. It might not be. But you should keep an open mind regarding the possibility of compromise
It’s frustrating, but anyone with a personal injury claim should also be prepared to wait. A recovery in such claim is not going to happen overnight, or in a couple of weeks, or frankly, in most cases even in a couple of months.
Minimally, intelligent negotiation on the claim cannot start until all medical care is completed.
It is at this point that the nature, extent and scope of the injury can be accurately determined and an intelligent assessment of both past and future necessary medical expenses can be made. The negotiation process can additionally take some time. In some instances, third-party providers such as doctors, health insurance, or governmental entities need to be involved in the negotiation process. Finally, if your case cannot be revolved through the negotiation and settlement process, litigation is necessary. Litigation is something, of course, that entails a process on the order of months, and potentially years, not weeks or days. In the wake of the ongoing coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic, the normal waiting times are even more elongated. What I've seen is that you should expect to add 6 months or so to "pre-COVID" time frames.
You should expect that a certain amount of patience is called for, and understand that a recovery in a personal injury case is a process-not an event.
-This Article was updated by Eric Kirk on 10/6/20.