[h2 dotted]Timeline of a Personal Injury Case[/h2]
[dropcap]In a personal injury case, we have to prove at arbitration or trial through testimony of witnesses and other evidence that the person or company we are suing on your behalf was legally responsible for your injuries. Usually this involves the question of whether or not the party was negligent.[/dropcap]
In simple terms, negligence means that it was the other party’s fault due to the party’s failure to exercise reasonable care. However, even if the other party was negligent, if the party can prove that you were also negligent, the damages you recover may be reduced by the percentage of negligence attributed to you.
The first step in a liability case is for us to notify the other party of our intentions to file a claim or lawsuit against the party. This normally results in our being contacted within a short time by the insurance company or in-house claims adjuster representing the other party.
A case cannot be settled until we know all of the facts and until the nature and extent of your injuries are established. We must have all of the medical reports and bills from all of the doctors and health professionals, all of your employment information related to any loss of wages claims, and we must have thoroughly investigated all of the facts.
When a liability case is settled, it is settled for one lump sum and the settlement is final. Any increased expenses, such as further lost wages, additional medical treatment, or change in your physical condition, cannot be the subject of future claims once the case has been settled. For this reason, we wait until we have all of the facts so that we are sure that we have covered all of the possibilities when we attempt settlement.
If we determine that the insurance company or in-house claims adjuster is not going to offer a sufficient amount to justify settlement, we will continue preparing the matter for arbitration and/or trial. While some claims settle quickly, it’s important to understand that many cases may take between six months and three years (or even longer in some instances) to proceed through the claims/trial process.
Part of this period will include “discovery” conducted by the attorneys. Discovery generally consists of interrogatories and depositions. Interrogatories are long lists of questions about the case submitted by each side to the other. Depositions are sworn testimony taken in the office of an attorney before a court reporter. Both of these devices are used so that each party knows as much as possible about the other side. Sometimes we cannot fully evaluate your case until months or years of discovery. Also, in many cases the other side will not try to settle until the eve of trial, which, as discussed above, often takes a long time.
If you have been injured or if your loved one has been killed in any type of accident in Hawaii, contact Bancroft Law today to schedule your free case evaluation.