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What to Expect in a Washington Car Accident Case

Car accidents and other personal injury cases progress through different stages as they move towards resolution. Depending on the nature of the accident, the complexity of the case, and the severity of your injuries, your car accident case may take a few months to a few years to settle.

If you were hurt in a car accident, it’s important that you understand the typical phases of a car accident case, what to expect, and how an experienced personal injury attorney can help you in each phase. This way, you are prepared for what is to come and can ensure a better outcome for yourself and any settlement that may be reached.

Investigating Your Car Accident Case and Negotiating with the Insurance Company

After a car accident, you should seek medical attention, have the police complete an accident report, and contact an attorney.

During your initial meeting, your personal injury attorney will ask questions and discuss details of the accident to determine that you have a valid claim. You will also be able to ask questions about the process, how your lawyer has handled other similar cases, and the likelihood of success. Once the meeting is over, your attorney will contact your medical providers to request copies of your medical records, medical bills, and medical history. This will allow him to fully understand and document the nature and extent of your injuries and car accident case.

This information will be used to calculate your economic damages, such as past and future medical expenses, property damage, and lost wages, as well as non-economic damages like pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and other intangible effects of the car accident.

Your attorney will also collect more in-depth information about the car accident case, including the accident scene, including the police report, names and contact information for witnesses, and photographs. He will evaluate the condition of the vehicles and the roadway, and will assess other factors that may have contributed to the accident, such as whether the other driver was talking on the phone, texting while driving, or driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This information will be used to prove that the other driver was at fault.

Your attorney may also consult with medical and non-medical experts to evaluate the nature, extent, and cause of your injuries. Depending on the circumstances of your case, your lawyer may also work with liability experts to prove how the accident occurred and that the other driver was at fault.

In most car accident cases, you will not need to file a lawsuit immediately. Instead, your attorney will gather evidence that supports your claim and present it to insurance companies representatives in an attempt to resolve the case without a lawsuit. Many claims settle out of court. But if the insurance company refuses to make a fair and reasonable offer, your lawyer will file a lawsuit.

Filing a Lawsuit and Preparing for Trial

If you were unable to resolve your case, your lawyer will formally commence a lawsuit by filing a complaint. This is a written document that identifies the basis for your claim and puts the other driver on notice that they have been named as a defendant in a lawsuit. Your lawyer will prepare and file the complaint, pay a filing fee, and have paperwork served on the other parties.

Once the lawsuit has begun, the attorneys will engage in discovery, which is the process of exchanging the information they anticipate presenting at trial. This includes the exchange of documents and answering written questions called interrogatories. The other attorneys will send you written questions, and your attorney will submit written questions to the other driver. The parties to the lawsuit have wide discretion to obtain relevant information about the case; however, some information will be deemed irrelevant, and legally privileged information will remain confidential.

The attorneys will also schedule depositions of fact witnesses and expert witnesses. A deposition is a statement that is taken under oath and transcribed by a court reporter. Your attorney will spend time with you before the deposition to help you prepare and answer any questions you have. He will also be present during the deposition to clarify any questions that are unclear and protect your rights.

Your attorney will also have the chance to take the deposition of other parties to the lawsuit, as well as any witnesses who will be called to testify about what they observed, or who will offer an expert opinion at trial.

As the lawsuit progresses, the lawyers will continue to engage in settlement negotiations. Most cases are scheduled for mediation, where the parties to a lawsuit work with an independent third-party who is specially trained to help the litigants find common ground and agree on a settlement.

If you are unable to bring your case to a resolution, it will proceed to trial.

Trial and Appeal

Over 95% of personal injury cases are resolved without going to trial. But if there is disagreement about who caused the accident or the other driver and their insurance company refuse to make a fair and reasonable settlement offer, a trial may be the only way to obtain the compensation you deserve.

At trial, the attorneys present information to a fact-finder, who is usually a jury, but may be a judge. A jury trial is most common in personal injury cases. The attorneys will each present their side of the case. Once the trial is complete, the jury will issue a verdict. Depending on the nature of your case, the trial could take a few days or a few weeks.

Once the jury issues its decision, the case is over, unless either side believes the judge or jury made a mistake. If this is the case and either side thinks an error occurred, they can file an appeal and request that a higher court, called a court of appeals, review the case. This extends the time of the car accident case and could potentially end in a different outcome than the initial trial.

The Campbell Law Firm: Personal Injury Lawyer Serving Northwest Washington

If you were injured or someone you love was killed in a car accident, you and your family may be entitled to compensation. The Campbell Law Firm will investigate your claim and work to maximize your financial recovery.

Learn more about The Campbell Law Firm and why people choose us, read reviews from other people we have helped, and contact us today to schedule a free, confidential consultation to discuss your case and how we can help.

Based in Anacortes, we proudly serve people in Island County, Oak Harbor, Coupeville, San Juan County, Friday Harbor, and all courts in Skagit County, including Anacortes, Mount Vernon, Burlington, and Sedro-Woolley.

Categories: Personal Injury

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