All personal injury cases follow basic progression guidelines. No matter what type of accident it is, everyone should follow the same steps. Some of these steps will take the same amount of time for each type of case, while some steps may take longer for certain types of injuries or accidents.
When you have a basic understanding of the process, it will be much easier for you to understand where your case is and how long to wait for completion. Here are some considerations from the main timeline of an auto accident case.
The car accident occurs
When the vehicle accident occurs is very important to your case. If you have been injured in a car accident, you only have a specific time to file a claim for compensation. This time limitation is what is called the statute of limitations. In Nevada, the statute of limitations says you have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim.
If you exceed this time limit, you may not be able to seek compensation. Injury victims are always encouraged to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after a car accident.
Initial medical care after the accident
As a victim of a car injury, you should seek immediate medical attention for your injuries. At this time, your injuries will be evaluated and your doctor can develop a recovery plan.
If your injuries require a specialist visit, your initial medical care will not be considered complete until you meet with this specialist. The time frame for this could be from one day to several weeks depending on the appointment times, and what types of doctor visits are needed.
Hire a car accident attorney
The next step you should take should be hiring a qualified car accident attorney to represent your case. Your attorney will provide you with the valuable service of managing your case and representing you before the insurance company. Once you’ve hired your attorney, they will begin to build your case.
The discovery process
Discovery is the word used in the legal field to collect evidence. The discovery process is often the longest part of your case. During this time your attorney:
- Notify the insurance company that you intend to sue for compensation for your injuries. The insurance company will have between 30 and 45 days to respond to this complaint.
- Look up the medical records of all health care providers regarding your accident. They can also look up pre-accident medical records to show that you didn’t have these problems before the accident.
- Request financial records from your employer, banks and investments to show the financial losses you have incurred.
- Interview witnesses to the event to get a complete overview of what happened at the time of the accident.
- Take your statement on the case for an official record.
- Review your medical data and talk with your doctors about your recovery and future medical needs.
- Create a case to present to the insurer.
Although each of the above steps is completed simultaneously, it can also take some time to complete. Much of the time is waiting for requested documents and scheduling interview appointments.
Once all the evidence is gathered and the case is built, the attorney will begin negotiations with the insurance company. During this process, each party will determine the value of the compensation they will receive.
Your attorney must be very aggressive on your behalf. During this period, they will only bring you a clearance offer if they think the offer is the best for you. The time period for negotiations can be one day or several months.
At this point, your case is between 12 and 24 months old. Most cases are resolved within this time period if the injury victim has achieved maximum medical improvement and the insurance company negotiates fairly.
If you accept the offer from the insurance company, your case will be settled and closed. If you do not accept the offer, you must proceed to the next step.
File a lawsuit against the insurer
If negotiations fail, your attorney will file a lawsuit on your behalf against the insurance company. At this point, more discoveries may be necessary, and the process will take many more months, possibly years.
Once the lawsuit enters the court system, there is a whole new set of guidelines and deadlines to follow. However, negotiations can continue throughout this process, until you enter the courtroom for trial, so there is still a chance to resolve the case.
These are just basic guidelines with approximate times attached to each step. Each case is as individual as the person who presented it, and each will proceed at a different pace based on this fact.
Your attorney will always find it in your best interest to move the process as quickly as possible. However, there are many times when you simply have to wait for the other party to respond to your requests, and that can take time. It is not uncommon for insurance companies to wait until the last day to respond to any request as it discourages the injury victim from pursuing the case.
If you have any questions about where your case stands in the process, speak with your attorney. Your attorney will be able to provide you with an approximate timeframe based on the facts of your case.
Why It Is Important To Hire An Accident Lawyer
An attorney is your best bet to avoid the potential dangers of the statute of limitations. An experienced car accident attorney can help make sure you know what these restrictions are and will make sure you don’t miss out on the opportunity to recover the compensation you need for your recovery.
Several factors can slow the progression of your auto accident case. Claimants who go alone are much more likely to experience complications that can potentially derail the outcome of their case. An experienced attorney will be aware of these potential pitfalls and can implement strategies to avoid them. If you or someone you know has been injured after a car accident, schedule your free consultation today to make sure your rights are protected.