The Personal Injury Claims Process

Step 1: Talk with a Lawyer

Were you hurt in an accident? Do you believe it was someone else’s fault? You should talk with a New York personal injury attorney about what happened. We will listen to your story then explain your options. If another person’s negligence or other wrongful conduct caused you harm, the law might entitle you to compensation. We will efficiently guide you through the claims process.

Step 2: Conduct an Independent Investigation and Gather Evidence

Before pointing the finger at another person, you need proof. You need direct and circumstantial evidence that they were at fault for your injuries. We will perform a thorough, independent investigation into the accident. We leave no stone unturned to gather as much evidence as possible before going to court.

Step 3: Identify Liable Parties

Liability in a personal injury case can be complicated. During our investigation, we look for evidence about who directly caused the accident. We also look for other people and businesses that are involved. Another party might be liable for your injuries, even if they were not at the accident scene. Someone other than the negligent party might be liable for compensating you.

Step 4: Calculate the Value of Your Damages

Knowing how much your case is worth requires working with an attorney. We will calculate your past and future medical expenses and lost income. These are your economic or special damages. We also place a value on your non-economic or general damages, including any disfigurement, physical limitation, physical pain and suffering, and mental distress.

Step 5: Calculate the Statute of Limitations

We have to know how long we have to file a lawsuit. There is always a deadline. We will review the statute of limitations and note the last date you have to file a personal injury lawsuit in New York.

Step 6: Send a Demand Letter

Once we know who is liable and the value of your claim, we will send a demand letter. This letter demands the other party take responsibility for their actions in the form of compensation. We will include ali demand for a specific amount of compensation. We will give the other party a date to respond by.

Step 7: Communicate with the Insurer

In many personal injury cases, the negligent or liable party has insurance. You should limit how much you speak with the insurance company. You don’t have to answer questions or provide a statement. Instead, direct the insurer to talk with us. We will handle communications with the insurance company. We will provide the necessary evidence and pursue getting your claim approved.

Step 8: Reach a Resolution or File a Personal Injury Lawsuit

The insurer might make a settlement offer right away. Don’t accept it right away. Talk with us about whether it is a fair offer. Many initial settlement offers are low. If your case is worth more, we can begin negotiations. At this time, we might go through mediation to try and resolve your claim fairly. But if we can’t reach a settlement, our next step is to go to court.

The Personal Injury Lawsuit Process

Step 9: File the Complaint

Lawsuits are initiated by filing a summons and complaint for damages. The complaint is a carefully written document that states your legal claims as the plaintiff. It identifies the alleged at-fault parties as the defendants. It also details the different types of compensation we ask to recover.

Step 10: Serve the Defendant

For a lawsuit to move forward, the defendant or defendants must receive proper service of process. This is known as being served papers. New York law dictates how a person or business must be served. If the complaint and summons to court are not delivered properly, then the defendants can ask for the case to be dismissed.

Step 11: Receive the Defendant’s Answer

The defendant is entitled to respond to the complaint. In the answer, the defendant denies the claims made in the complaint. The defendant might state one or more defenses. The answer is often shorter than the complaint. The defendant can make a counterclaim or bring in a third-party defendant at the same time. If the defendant fails to respond to the complaint, we might file a Motion for Default Judgment.

Step 12: Utilize the Discovery Process

After we file the complaint and the other party answers, the lawsuit enters the fact-finding stage called discovery. It accounts for most of the personal injury lawsuit timeline. During discovery, both sides exchange relevant information to gather any evidence that supports their positions. Common legal tools used during discovery are Bill of Particulars, Requests for Admissions, Interrogatories, and Requests for Production of Documents. Discovery also requires taking depositions, which involves people testifying under oath, outside of court, about the facts of the case.

Step 13: Retain Expert Witnesses

Discovery is the continuation of our investigation. As we learn more, we might strengthen our case and notice weaknesses. This helps us decide whether we need any expert witnesses. We might hire a medical expert to testify regarding your injuries, an accident reconstruction expert to testify regarding the cause of the accident, or an economic expert to discuss the financial consequences of your injuries.

Step 14: File Pre-Trial Motions

Pre-trial motions are how procedural issues and matters of personal injury law are established before trial. Both sides will set the parameters of what evidence will be admitted and which witnesses will testify. Either side might file motions asking the judge to decide whether a piece of evidence is admissible. The defendant might file a Motion to Dismiss and ask the judge to throw out the case. If we believe our evidence is strong and the defendant can’t dispute liability, we might file a Motion for Summary Judgment asking the judge to rule in your favor.

Step 15: Participate in Settlement Negotiations

Once discovery is complete, we might enter settlement negotiations. We might go through mediation or arbitration. Both are alternative dispute resolution methods that take place out of court. We will fight hard to reach a settlement that is fair and covers all of your damages and fees.

Step 16: Prepare for Trial

If we can’t reach an appropriate settlement agreement, then we prepare for trial. We carefully organize the evidence we will exhibit at trial. We work closely with you, the experts, and other witnesses who will testify at trial. We also work with witnesses to plan for what the defendant’s attorneys will ask.

Step 17: Participate in a Personal Injury Trial

If you have a jury trial, we first go through the voir dire process, during which jurors are chosen from a large pool of randomly selected local residents. Once the jury is selected, both the plaintiff and defendants’ lawyers present their arguments to the court. After opening statements, we present our case-in-chief by questioning witnesses and showing different types of evidence. When we are finished, the defense presents its evidence. At the end of the trial, the judge gives the jury instructions, and then the jury deliberates in private.

Step 18: Receive the Jury’s Verdict

Many New York civil cases only have six jurors, and only five of the six jurors have to agree. The jury can take as much time as it needs before returning a verdict. The jury will find the defendant either liable or not. If the jury decides in your favor, they also will decide how much compensation you receive.

Step 19: File an Appeal

If the jury decides in the defendant’s favor, we will immediately obtain and scrutinize a record of the case. We will look for any possible legal error that could be a basis for an appeal.

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Do You Have Questions About the Personal Injury Claims Process?

If you have questions about how to move forward with a personal injury case, contact Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek, P.C. at (212) 490-5700 or through our online form. We offer free case reviews and have years of experience litigating serious and complex personal injury claims. We have recovered over $500 million for our clients.

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