No one wants to be in this situation, but it happens every day. Someone did not take care of their responsibility and the result was someone being injured. While we would hope for fair and honest efforts from both parties, we have to be wise enough to understand that everyone is not fair and honest.
We are going to explain the basic steps that happen in a personal injury case. However, each injury case is different, so please accept that this a generality.
- Call a Lawyer
There are several rules and laws that you probably do not know about and you cannot actually think the responsible person is going to offer money to you. If the accident is work-related, it becomes a workers’ compensation issue. They have procedures and time restrictions that they maintain to the letter. Your attorney will make sure you do not fall through any of their legal loopholes.
- Meeting With the Attorney
When you meet with the attorney, he or she will explain every step and tell you what to expect. They are on your team. Be 100% honest with them and tell them everything.
- Just the Facts
This is the “fact-finding” stage. This is where each party tries to find out what happened, why, and who is to blame. This is where your attorney finds out if the property owner knew or should have known about the danger that hurt you.
- Coming to a Resolution
After everything has been looked at by the lawyers, they may make an offer of settlement. Your attorney will use their experience and knowledge to know how strong your case is and whether you should even consider the offer. If he or she feels they have a hands-down winning case, your lawyer will be willing to go to trial. But, there are few cases that are that black and white. Usually, a compromise will be suggested, and the attorneys will argue about the validity of the case.
If an agreement is made, the settlement is offered and accepted. The lawyers work out the terms of the settlement.
Going to Trial
If the attorneys cannot come to an agreement, the next step for you (via your attorney) is to sue them. Your personal injury attorney will tell you exactly what to expect. Your personal injury lawyer will also tell you how to behave in court. The courts are to be given the highest of respect. Do not get angry and frustrated. The attorney against you is going to try to disprove what you said happened. After everyone has been heard, the judge (or jury) will decide if you deserve the settlement and how much it will be.
Sometimes it will be done in percentages. The judge may say the property manager was 90% at fault for not repairing the structure, but you were 10% at fault for walking near a structure that you know was unsafe. So, if the settlement is for $20,000.00 and you were 10% at fault, your recovery will be $18,000.00.