Most people don’t know what happens during the litigation process of an automobile accident. After handling many personal injury cases in Kansas and Missouri, I can clarify some general guidelines.
Settlement. The vast majority of auto accident claims are settled with the insurance companies without a lawsuit being filed in court. Unfortunately, many car wreck victims try to settle a case on their own, without the aid of an experienced car wreck attorney. While the insurance companies exploit that, it is not in the interest of the victim injured in the car wreck to proceed without an attorney. Insurance companies are trained to pay out the minimum amount of damages possible. Instead, an experienced attorney should negotiate the settlement with the insurance company, and advocate for the victim’s legal right to compensation. Such representation is invaluable. Don’t try to settle a case without representation. It leads to lower compensation and can even seriously hurt your case for the future. We have helped people turn cases around for people who initially tried to settle the case on their own. However, the cases are better resolved when the attorney was providing the representation from the beginning.
Road to Settlement. The attorney will begin working with and communicating with the different insurance companies and parties involved in the wreck. Along the way they will be gathering policy information, police records, potential court records, and constantly advocating for your interest. Furthermore, when preparing to settle a case, a good personal injury lawyer will often work with a medical provider to discuss and obtain critical guidance and documentation to support the claim and help the injured victim. This can help the attorney persuade the insurance company to provide significant financial compensation to our injured clients. Moreover, your health is of utmost importance and receiving the care you need should be a top priority instead of just going in and out of a hospital without truly and fully addressing your injuries.
Preparing for litigation. As efforts are made by your PI attorney to settle the case, much of the documentation being gathered and developed will be the same evidence used at trial if the case cannot be settled. So, obtaining the right evidence is crucial whether for settlement or for trial.
Filing the lawsuit. If an out of court settlement cannot be reached, then a trial lawyer may file your case in court. It is generally filed in the county and state where the wreck occurred. This begins to put extra pressure on the insurance company and can sometimes help the settlement process. However, it does add extra litigation expense. It should be noted that Kansas and Missouri each has separate statute of limitation laws that prevent a person from filing suit if not filed in time. It is generally 2 years for Kansas and 5 years for Missouri.
Obtaining service of process. After the lawsuit is filed, the party who caused the wreck must be served the lawsuit paperwork. Once they are served, they are then provided a limited amount of time to answer. The case is then set for a status conference in Court. This is a chance for the parties to discuss basic legal issues, calendar, and clarify to the court the status of the case. The case will eventually lead to a Case management Order which outlines some of the basic stipulations, theory of the case, damages, exhibits, timelines, and etc.
Discovery. The parties are allowed to utilize interrogatories, requests for production of documents, requests for admissions, and depositions. The other party is then required to spend time answering the numerous requests, questions, etc., and providing documentation back to the party who requested them.
Trial. At trial, your attorney will need to prove by a preponderance of the evidence 1.) Negligence - the other party fell below an acceptable standard 2.) Causation – it was because of the other party’s negligence that you were injured and therefore the negligent party should be held liable. 3.) Damages – this is often the most contested part of the litigation and includes things like the medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and anticipated future medical needs.
Read What Our Former Clients Have Said
"Professional, informative, and vital in working with the prosecutor to secure the most favorable outcome possible".Barb
"Jerry kept in constant contact with us and our son during the case and went the extra mile to plea before the judge outside and inside the courtroom".Joanne from Nebraska