Every personal injury case follows basic guidelines of progression. It does not matter what type of accident it is, they all must follow the same steps. Some of these measures will take the same amount of time to complete in every kind 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 make it much easier to understand where your case is at and how long you should expect it to take to finish. Here are some considerations of the core timeline of an auto accident case.
The Auto Accident Occurs
When the vehicle accident occurs is very important to your case. If you have been injured in a car crash, you only have a specific amount of time to make 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 an auto accident injury victim, you should seek immediate medical care for your injuries. At this time your injuries will be evaluated, and your physician can develop a recovery plan.
If the injuries require a visit to a specialist, your initial medical care is not seen as complete until you meet with this specialist. The timeline for this could be one day to several weeks based on appointment times, and what types of doctor’s consultations are necessary.
Hiring A Car Accident Attorney
The next step you take should be the hiring of 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 have hired your lawyer, they will begin to build your case.
The Discovery Process
Discovery is the word used in the legal field for gathering evidence. The discovery process is often the longest portion of your case. During this time your attorney will:
- Notify the insurance company that you have intentions to sue for compensation for your injuries. The insurance company will then have between 30 and 45 days to respond to this complaint.
- Seek medical records from all medical care providers regarding your accident. They may also pursue medical records from before the accident to prove that you did not suffer from these problems before the crash.
- Request financial records from your employer, banks, and investments to show the financial losses that you have incurred.
- Interview witnesses to the event to gather a comprehensive overview of what happened at the time of the accident.
- Take your deposition about the case for an official record.
- Review medical data and speak with doctors about your recovery and future medical needs.
- Create a case to present to the insurer.
Although each of the above steps are completed simultaneously, they can also take some time to complete. Much of the time consists of waiting to receive the requested documents and scheduling appointments for interviews.
Once all the evidence is gathered, and the case is built, the attorney will begin negotiations with the insurance company. During this process, each side will determine the value of the compensation that you will receive.
Your attorney should be very aggressive on your behalf. During this period, they will only bring you an offer of settlement if they believe that the offer is in your best interest. The time period for the negotiations can be as little as one day or take several months.
At this point, your case is between 12 and 24 months old. Most cases settle within this time period if the injury victim has reached maximum medical improvement and the insurance company negotiates fairly.
If you accept the offer from the insurance company, your case will settle, and it is closed. If you do not accept the offer, you will have to proceed to the next step.
File A Lawsuit Against the Insurer
If the negotiations fail, your attorney will file a lawsuit on your behalf against the insurance company. At this point, more discovery may be necessary, and the process will be extended for many more months, possibly years.
Once the lawsuit enters the court system, there is an entirely new set of guidelines and deadlines to follow. However, negotiations can continue throughout this entire process, up until you enter the court room for the trial, so there is still a chance to settle the case.
These are just basic guidelines with approximate times attached to each step. Every case is as individual as the person who filed 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 they simply must wait for the other party to respond to their requests, and that can take time. It is not unusual for insurance companies to wait until the very last day to answer to any requests because it discourages the injury victim from continuing with the case.
If you have any questions about where your case is in the process, speak with your attorney. Your lawyer will be able to provide you with an approximate timeline based on the facts of your case.
Why It’s Important to Hire an Accident Attorney
An attorney is your best bet to avoid the potential pitfalls of the statute of limitations. An experienced auto accident attorney can help ensure you know what these restrictions are, and will ensure you don’t miss your window of opportunity to recover the compensation you need for your recovery.
Several factors can hold up the progression of your auto accident case. Claimants who go at it alone are much more likely to experience complications that can potentially derail the outcome of their case. An experienced attorney will have knowledge of these potential pitfalls and can implement strategies to avoid them. If you or someone you know has sustained injuries after a car accident, schedule your free consultation today to ensure your rights are protected.