What is the Legal Process for a Car Accident Case?

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The California Legal Process for Car Accident Claims

The legal process for a car accident personal injury case includes multiple phases. Some personal injury cases are resolved in earlier phases, while others require The May Firm to complete every phase of the process on your behalf.

Phase 1: The Accident

Every personal injury claim begins with some sort of an accident. In a car accident, victims may suffer serious injuries. It is also possible that they walk away unscathed with only property damage to their vehicle to worry about. If someone is contemplating filing a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver, it is likely that the person filing the personal injury claim was injured or suffered significant property damage.

While you are still at the scene of the accident, it’s important to call the police and have them investigate the cause of the accident. The police will write a report that might be helpful to your case later on. If possible, you should also be taking photos and speaking with witnesses to the crash .

Phase 2: Medical treatment

It should go without saying that if you have been injured in a car accident, get to a doctor! You should never leave potential injuries undiagnosed and untreated. What some people don’t realize is that not all injuries are readily apparent. Some injuries, like those to the brain and spine, are not easy to detect and can take weeks or months to display symptoms. These are the types of injuries that can have the most severe long-term consequences. Therefore, even if you don’t think you are injured, you should always get checked out by a doctor.

Phase 3: Consultation with lawyer(s)

After you receive medical treatment, you should speak with a personal injury attorney right away. In fact, you should speak to more than one lawyer so that you can receive a range of opinions on your case and feel confident that the attorney that you hire is the best “fit” for you. Bring any documentation that you have with you, including medical records and photos of the scene and injuries, to a consultation with a highly-qualified personal injury attorney.

Phase 4: Pre-filing settlement negotiations

Many personal injury firms will engage in settlement negotiations with the at-fault driver’s insurance company before a lawsuit is actually filed. Personal injury lawsuits are public, meaning that anyone can see that you filed a case. Lawsuits take time and are energy consuming. At The May Firm, if we can avoid the hassle of filing a lawsuit by settling with the at-fault party’s insurance beforehand, we will certainly do so. In a pre-filing settlement negotiation, the at-fault party may be inclined to agree to a settlement amount to compensate you for your injuries and avoid the need to file a lawsuit. Pre-lawsuit negotiations do not always happen in every case; sometimes we may go straight to filing a lawsuit.

Phase 5: Personal injury lawsuit filed (Case by Case Basis)

If pre-lawsuit settlement negotiations are not successful – meaning that the at-fault party doesn’t agree to fairly compensate you for your injuries – then the next step is to actually file a lawsuit in an effort to get a judge and jury to force them to do the right thing.

Phase 6: Post-filing settlement negotiations

After a personal injury case is filed, the attorneys on both sides will meet to try to negotiate a settlement. Depending on when the case was filed, this might be the first or the second time that everyone is meeting to try to reach a settlement agreement.

Phase 7: Litigation

If the parties aren’t able to reach a settlement, your case will eventually proceed to trial. The civil litigation process can be tedious and time consuming with many court hearings between filing your case and trial. At trial, both sides will present evidence and the trier of fact (a judge or jury) will decide who was at fault for the accident. At this point, damages would also be awarded.

Disclaimer: Information on this page is designed for general information purposes only and should not be interpreted as being legal advice or a legal opinion on specific facts or circumstances. You should always consult with an attorney before making a decision about your case. Pages are updated periodically but information provided on this page may not be up to date as circumstances may change over time. Please see our [LEGAL DISCLAIMERS] page for additional legal disclaimers.

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