An In-Depth Look at a Car Accident Case Timeline

Categories: Car Accidents

car models on file folder

Palm Beach County’s Trusted Car Accident Attorney

When you suffer physical injuries in a car accident, recovering just compensation for your outstanding medical bills, future medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost income means dealing with insurance companies. While most insurance claims settle, some settle more quickly than others – and occasionally accident victims need to take their claims to trial.

Keeping in mind that car accident claims can settle at almost any stage of the process, here is an in-depth look at the timeline of a car accident case from the date of the accident through a verdict at trial.

1. Car Accident Resulting in Physical Injury

Car accidents are a daily occurrence in Palm Beach County. While some of these accidents can truly be considered “minor,” even in a low-speed collision, it is still possible for drivers and passengers to suffer serious physical injuries. If you were injured in an accident involving another vehicle – even if the other driver fled the scene of the accident – you may be able to recover financial compensation, and you should not make any assumptions your legal rights until you speak with an attorney.

2. Medical Diagnosis and Treatment

After any type of car accident, it is important to seek a medical attention right away. Obtaining a prompt diagnosis will help ensure that you have the best chance of making a full physical recovery, and your treatment records will be key evidence in your claim for compensation. If you wait to see a doctor, the insurance companies may try to argue that there is not a clear link between your accident and your injuries – and they may try to use this to deny your claim for financial recovery.

3. Attorney Consultation

As soon as possible, you should meet with an attorney to discuss your case. An experienced car accident lawyer will be able to help you understand what you need to do to protect your rights, and the law firm’s should be able to handle many aspects of your case. You will need legal representation to ensure that the insurance companies do not take advantage of you; and if the insurance companies refuse to settle, you will need an attorney who knows your case to take them to court.

4. Investigation and Review of Medical Records

If you meet with an attorney and they believe that you have a case, the next step will be to conduct a thorough investigation. The nature of the investigation will depend upon how long it has been since the accident occurred. If it is not too late, your attorney may hire forensic experts and accident reconstructionists to collect evidence at the scene of the accident – including photos of skid marks and debris. If it has been weeks or months since the accident, your attorney may still have investigators visit the scene to examine the road conditions, traffic signs and signals, and any lasting damage.

A car accident investigation may also involve collection of:

  • Police reports
  • Driver records
  • Employment records
  • Vehicle repair invoices
  • Other forms of physical and documentary evidence

At this time, your attorney will also obtain your medical records pertaining to the accident. In addition to proving the cause of the accident, you also need to prove the extent of your harm – and this starts with understanding the immediate and long-term effects of your injuries.

5. Insurance Claim(s)

With evidence of liability in hand, your attorney will next the insurance companies to submit your claim and begin the settlement negotiation process. While is a “no-fault” insurance state, accident victims can still seek compensation from at-fault drivers’ insurance companies for permanent injuries. Your attorney will negotiate with the insurers for all drivers involved in the accident in order to make sure that you receive just compensation – ideally as quickly as possible.

6. Personal Injury Lawsuit

Even when faced with clear evidence of liability, insurance companies will sometimes refuse to negotiate fair settlements. If your case does not appear to be on track for settlement, your attorney will file a lawsuit against the appropriate insurance company (or insurance companies) in the courts. Your lawsuit will begin with the filing of a “complaint” (which will be prepared by your attorney); and once the insurance companies have received service of process, they will be subject to mandatory deadlines for responding to your claim for compensation.

7. Discovery

Once your attorney files a lawsuit, he or she will have the opportunity to obtain additional evidence through the legal process known as “discovery.” In discovery, each party to the lawsuit is entitled to obtain relevant documents and information from the other parties involved in the litigation. The information brought to light through discovery will often spur further settlement negotiations, and discovery often (though not always) leads to settlement prior to trial.

8. Pre-Trial Practice

Assuming your case has not settled, as your trial date approaches, your attorney will engage in a number of pre-trial practices and procedures. These may include:

  • Filing motions to compel discovery
  • Filing motions to exclude inadmissible evidence
  • Seeking to expand or limit the scope of trial
  • Responding to the insurance companies’ motions
  • Engaging in mediation or arbitration

Each of these steps is designed to help ensure that you have the best chance to secure maximum compensation. And while the insurance companies’ defense lawyers are likely to have significant experience in this area, a skilled car accident litigator will be able to use the pre-trial process to your advantage.

9. Trial

Finally, if your case has not settled, your attorney will take your case to trial. During trial, the attorneys for both sides will present their opening statements, and then each attorney will have the opportunity to present evidence through witness testimony. Each attorney will have the opportunity to cross-examine the other side’s witnesses as well. After closing arguments, the judge or jury will render a verdict based on the evidence presented.

Schedule a Free Consultation Your Car Accident Case

If you have been injured in a Palm Beach County car accident, I encourage you to me, Brian D. Guralnick, personally to discuss your legal rights. To learn how the injury team at Brian D. Guralnick Injury Lawyers can help you Demand More® for your injuries, call 561.202.MORE(6673) now.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. If you need advice on specific legal issues, please consult with a licensed Personal Injury attorney.