Whether or not your case goes to trial is dependent on the facts of your case. While most personal injury cases settle without the plaintiff ever having to set foot in a court room, it is important that you and your attorney prepare your case as though it will be tried to verdict.
What Can I Expect When My Case Is First Filed?
The early stages of your case or some of the most crucial as the quality of evidence and the ability of witnesses to accurately recall details of your accident and injuries can diminish rapidly. This is why it is best to contact an attorney as soon as you can follow a personal injury accident.
As soon as you contact Thomas J. Henry, an attorney will begin taking the steps necessary to preserve and gather evidence for your claim. This may include gathering photographic evidence, taking witnesses statements, reviewing official reports, and even filing a temporary restraining order if your attorney feels any evidence is at risk of damage, destruction, or tampering.
Once your doctor believes your condition is stable, your attorney will begin assembling medical reports, records, and bills and begin calculating damages. If you missed work due to your injury, your attorney will seek out employment records in order to evaluate damages related to loss of wages and loss of earning potential.
The goal is to establish the facts of your case. Specifically, that your accident was the result of negligent behavior by the defendant, that the accident resulted in injuries or damages, and that the defendant should be held liable of those injuries and damages.
When Will My Attorney Enter into Settlement Negotiations?
Typically, true settlement negotiations will not begin until your attorney and the defense have both completed their pretrial investigations and had time to go through the discovery process. Part of the discovery process may include your attorney and the defense soliciting written answers from the opposition, called interrogatories, and may even request sworn testimony be given under oath, known as a deposition.
Keep in mind, it is very rare for an insurance company to engage in serious settlement talks before the facts of the case can be acquired. If your case is particularly complex or involves a large commercial entity, the defense may decide to wait for your attorney to identify their expert witnesses before discussing potential settlement amounts.
In such a scenario, the defense is trying to gauge the risk of going to trial versus settling out of court. If an attorney has access to high-quality expert witnesses, the defense takes this as a sign that the attorney has the resources and experience to fight it out in trial and that a settlement may be the safer option.
In extreme cases, the defense will not engage in serious settlement negotiations until they have filed a motion for a summary judgment, often called a motion to dismiss. If the motion is granted, your case is over; however, if the motion is denied by the court, an experience attorney will be able to use the failed motion as leverage in subsequent negations.
If a Settlement is Not Reached, Does that Mean I Go to Trial?
If your attorney and the defense are unable to agree on a fair settlement or if the defense challenges liability in the case, then your case will go to trial. If your attorney has not prepared your case accordingly, your claim may be in jeopardy.
At Thomas J. Henry, we treat every case as though it will go to trial. This way, if trial becomes necessary, has already gathered the evidence and witness testimony to prove your claim before a jury or judge. It is important to understand that trials take time – as such, patience is key. While there is little that can be done to speed up the litigation process, there are ways to use this time to your advantage. While your case is pending, your attorney will coach you on court room procedures and how to handle questioning and cross-examination. They will also continue to review evidence for new opportunities to improve your claim to compensation.
Thomas J. Henry has been successfully trying cases against large companies for the past 30 years and has built a reputation by securing record-breaking jury verdicts. With a team of more than 100 attorneys ready to represent injured clients at a moment’s notice, we have the money and the resources to fight and win against even the largest trucking and insurance companies.