After an injury, the first thing you want to focus on is recovery — however, that can seem difficult when escalating medical bills and lost wages hold you back. At Casey, Devoti & Brockland, we understand that making a personal injury claim can be complicated without an expert at your side. For injury victims ready to fight back, our attorneys outlined 10 critical stages of the claim process to bring you clarity moving forward.
Stage 1 — The Event
A personal injury case starts off with an accident that leaves you injured, through no fault of your own. Though it may be hard to do moments after a disaster, it is important to calmly take note of every element for later use, including your surroundings and your interactions with those around you. To ensure your own safety, cooperate with first responders and stick to the facts as you speak with additional medical professionals.
Stage 2 — The Report
As you begin building a personal injury claim, keep in mind that time is of the essence. We recommend that you physically record a recollection of the events and individuals surrounding your injury as soon as possible. In addition, you should report the event to a governmental authority and inform the at-fault individual’s insurance provider. This initial report should include the identity of the people or things involved as well as the location, date and time of the accident.
Stage 3 — The Care
Amidst the noise of the legal process, your well-being should remain your top priority. You should immediately seek medical care and treatment. As you receive care, be as specific as possible about your symptoms, their frequency and how they impact your daily life. From there, you should follow their professional advice and handle the ensuing medical expenses as you would normally, saving the bills for reference in future legal action.
Stage 4 — The Search for an Attorney
Finding a proper legal partner for your personal injury claim may require some digging. Personal injury victims may find attorneys through word-of-mouth, internet searches or advertisements. Regardless of where you encountered an attorney first, use your initial communications to delve into their prior experience and their opinions on the viability of your case. We recommend that you take caution to fully vet their qualifications before agreeing to their representation.
Stage 5 — The Personal Injury Claim
A claim is often submitted in a written package that includes reports from governmental agencies, photographs of evidence, itemized billing statements and more. The package is accompanied by a settlement damage that outlines the amount of money you will accept to resolve the dispute. Our firm’s practice is to attempt to resolve the case prior to suit through the transmission of a settlement package — however, a suit will be filed if a reasonable result cannot be reached.
Stage 6 — The Suit
If the proposed settlement is not accepted, your lawyers will aid you, the plaintiff, in filing suit against the defendant. Missouri attorneys begin by drafting a petition that identifies the parties, the circumstances surrounding the dispute and the damages resulting from the choices made. The petition must be filed in the county where the incident occurred — from there, the Circuit Clerk will prepare a summons to inform the defendant that they have been sued.
The summons is typically served to the defendant by the county sheriff within 30 days. The defendant may prepare an answer to the allegations or file a motion to dismiss the personal injury claim.
Stage 7 — The Discovery
Discovery is the stage of the suit with open opportunities to delve into the opposing party’s respective position as well as the evidence at their disposal. Each party can request information from their opposition, removing any element of surprise at trial. The plaintiff, defendant and their respective witnesses will be called to give a deposition, or a statement given under oath, about the incident in question. Prior to your deposition, your lawyer will prepare you for the process by educating you about what to expect and reviewing your memory of the incident.
Stage 8 — The Settlement
A settlement is a final resolution of the dispute with the party that caused your harm and losses — a vast majority of cases end here. If your case settles, you typically receive money within four to six weeks and the at-fault party will be released from future liability. You may use your settlement funds to satisfy all outstanding expenses in your personal injury claim such as attorney payments and medical balances.
Stage 9 — The Judgment
Cases that proceed to trial end in one of two ways: a judgment following a trial by a judge or jury. In Missouri, the judgment becomes “final” 30 days after it is entered by the trial court. Once final, the judgment may be appealed by either party. If the judgment is not appealed, the plaintiff may move to collect a favorable judgment.
Stage 10 — The Post-Judgment
Every party has the right to challenge the judgment through an appeal to a higher court. However, cases with a jury verdict cannot be directly appealed — a party must file a motion for a new trial to bring the judges attention to errors that may have occurred and potentially impacted the trial’s outcome. If successful, the motion will result in a new trial. If not successful, the losing party may appeal to a higher court. Our team has previously found success in the appeals process for a personal injury claim.
Take the Next Steps
Building a personal injury claim can be far from straightforward — our attorneys work diligently behind the scenes to gather evidence, educate you about the process, keep you informed and ultimately move you forward in your journey toward justice. When you are ready to bring those responsible for your injury to justice, we are here for you — contact the attorneys at Casey, Devoti & Brockland for a free consultation today.