The Timeline of An Injury Case: From Injury to Compensation?
The majority of our personal injury clients have never been injured because of another person’s fault. As a result, our clients often have questions about the process – specifically how long they can expect before the case is resolved. Like with so many things, the short answer is: it depends. Below, if a general timeline of the injury process that may give you some idea of the length of time typically involved in resolving a personal injury case.
Accident and/or Injury Date:
This is the date on which you were injured because of another person, whether it was in a car accident, truck accident, or on their property. Insurance companies often refer to this as “Date of Loss.” At this stage the two most important things for the injured person to do are: 1.) Seek and undergo competent medical treatment; and 2.) Hire a good lawyer. The medical professionals will guide with your physical recovery while the lawyer’s office handles all the details of protecting your case. I cannot over-stress the importance of hiring a lawyer as soon as possible after an injury because it ensures that your case is set up for success. Not hiring a lawyer can harm your case and chances of success moving forward.
Pre-Suit/Demand Package: (1-2 months after medical treatment ends)
Once your medical treatment has ended (or at least arrived a point where your future treatment can be easily estimated), the next step is preparing and serving your Demand Package upon the insurance company. The Marietta personal injury lawyers at our firm gather all your medical records, medical bills, accident reports, witness statements, photographs and any other important information to present to the insurance company to make a “demand.” A demand is a formal request by an injured person’s attorney to the at-fault party’s insurer that the pay a certain amount of compensation (a precise dollar amount) in order to resolve the claim against their insured. The Marietta personal injury attorneys at our firm present a legal and factual argument to the insurer to convince them that the evidence shows that they need to pay the full value of the injured person’s claim and that they need to do so quickly. The demand package always includes a deadline for the insurer to accept the demand offered. If the insurer fails to offer an amount that fully satisfies the injured person, then a lawsuit is filed against the at-fault party.
Litigation/Suit (1-2 months after demand ends)
Because your attorney has given the insurer a deadline within which to pay a fair settlement, if they fail to “come to the table,” the injured party has the right to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. Oftentimes, the act of filing the lawsuit makes the insurer realize that you “mean business” and we have regularly seen increased offers at this point. The insurer in Georgia must pay not only for any settlement of the injury claim, but also for an attorney to represent the injured party. This means the insurance company has strong incentive to try and resolve your claim as early as possible.
Discovery (7 months after suit is filed)
By law, the discovery period of the lawsuit does not begin until around 30 days after he suit is filed. Also, by operation of law, the discovery period in state court in Georgia then lasts six (6) months. During this phase, each side exchanges written lists of questions (called “Interrogatories”) and written requests to produce copies of documents (called “Requests for Production”). This allows for each side to gather all potential evidence that might be used at a trial. Once enough of that information is gathered, each side can re-evaluate their chances of success at trial and determine whether they want to engage in settlement negotiations. In recent years, injured parties and insurers are settling their cases in formal settlement meetings called “mediation.” The experienced Marietta personal injury attorneys at our firm have attended hundreds of mediations where we have successfully obtained a result that fully satisfies our clients.
Trial (3-6 months after discovery ends)
Once the discovery period is closed, the case is generally ready to be tried in front of a jury. This phase of the case is the most difficult to estimate in length of time because every state court has a different number of cases that it is handling at any given time. In addition, unexpected events (such as the court closures in the first half of 2020 for COVID-19 quarantine) can cause delays on a trial date. Nonetheless, an injured party has a right to trial, so it has to happen at some point. The experienced personal injury attorneys at our firm have tried cases in Georgia for nearly twenty (20) years (as of 2020) and have a great track record of successfully obtaining generous verdicts for our clients.
The Marietta personal injury attorneys at The Strickland Firm can help you understand your options going forward, and protect your rights if trial becomes necessary. Contact the offices today for a free consultation.