If you’ve been injured in an accident in Carmel, Indiana, the sooner you find an experienced Carmel personal injury lawyer, the better your chance for a successful outcome. The personal injury claim process can be long and complicated and depends on many factors which are outlined below.

Types of Personal Injury Cases

A personal injury case arises when one party is harmed by another party due to their negligence, recklessness, or intentional act. How much time each one takes to settle is unique and depends on many factors, including the type and severity of the case. The most common types of personal injury cases include:

There are also many different types of damages that can be sought depending on the type of negligence including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages and benefits
  • Property repairs and/or replacements
  • Other out-of-pocket expenses
  • Pain and suffering (emotional, mental)
  • Loss of quality of life due to long-term disability
  • Punitive damages (punishment for deterring reckless behavior such as hit-and-run)

Factors That Affect the Timeline

In addition to the type of personal injury case and damages sought, there are several other factors that can affect the timeline such as:

Severity of the Injury

It is often difficult to predict the full extent of an injury and how much time and therapy will be needed to recuperate. Thus, it’s best to wait until the injured party makes a full recovery before reaching a final settlement. If a settlement is reached too soon, the case cannot be reopened.

Complexity of the Case

The more players involved (i.e. the number of plaintiffs, defendants, and witnesses, etc.), the more complicated the process will be due to the quantity of paperwork, the scheduling of interviews, and conflicts that will need to be resolved.

Client Cooperation

The client’s responsiveness can also affect how long the process takes. Issues such as a change in contact information, missed appointments, scheduling conflicts, and a lack of communication can all prolong the process.

Willingness of All Parties to Settle

In general, the at-fault party’s willingness to settle will depend on the strength of the evidence against them. At the same time, the defendant’s insurance company is more concerned with their bottom line and may employ different tactics to delay payments or stall the process, especially regarding larger amounts of compensation, hoping to pressure the plaintiff to accept a lower amount.

The Legal Process

Filing a personal injury claim is a complex, multi-step process that varies in duration. As stated above, this process can be shortened or prolonged based on the facts of each case and the defendant’s willingness to settle. While most claims are settled before reaching trial, your personal injury lawyer in Carmel will start the process by enacting the following steps:

1. The Investigation

The first step is for your lawyer to investigate the accident and gather evidence to support your case. Through the collection and review of the police report, medical records, photos and expert interviews, they will determine the cause of the accident, who is responsible for your injuries, and to what extent they are liable for damages.

2. Settlement Negotiations

Next, your lawyer will initiate settlement negotiations with the defendant’s insurance company with a demand letter. The insurance company will respond by either disputing the claim or making an offer, though it will typically be less than or only partially what is owed. What follows next is a series of offers and counteroffers between the opposing parties until a fair settlement is reached which can take from a few months to a year.

Going to Trial

However, if both parties cannot come to an agreement, your lawyer can take more serious action by filing a lawsuit and preparing for trial. These steps are as follows:

1. Filing a Lawsuit

Your personal injury lawyer will file a complaint with the appropriate court and serve the defendant with a complaint and summons to court. Sometimes it can take up to a month for the defendant to be found and/or appear in court.

2. Trial Preparations

During this stage, known as discovery, both sides participate in a written dialogue of questions and answers based on the shared evidence. Then, all parties involved will provide spoken testimonies under oath (depositions). This stage is often long and tedious, so it’s important to be patient and stand your ground. Once all the evidence is presented, a settlement may still be negotiated outside of court through a neutral third party called a mediator. 

3. Trial by Jury

Although settlement can be reached at any point in the process, going to trial is still a possibility. Therefore, your lawyer should always be prepared to represent you in court where the verdict will be decided by a jury. Trials are very expensive and cumbersome for all parties involved and verdicts can often be unpredictable, so the goal is to reach a fair settlement as soon as possible.

3. Appeal

If you and/or your lawyer are not satisfied with the verdict, it may be possible to apply for an appeal to a higher court to hear the case.

Contact the Personal Injury Attorneys at Wagner Reese in Carmel

No matter what the circumstances of a personal injury case, it can take months, sometimes years to reach a settlement. That’s why it’s important to find a seasoned, local personal injury in Carmel who can start building your case right away.

Here at Wagner Reese, we are the personal injury lawyers Carmel residents have come to depend on to fight for them at every stage of the legal process. If you have been injured or lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, contact our Wagner Reese personal injury lawyers to schedule your free consultation today.