Ever wonder what the process is for your personal injury case? Every want to know what the actual steps are to your personal injury case? Here is the basic outline of the process and steps to a personal injury case. These steps form a sort of case map and/or case timeline you can follow with your personal injury attorney. The first 7 steps are all about what happens up until a lawsuit is filed. Many cases are resolved before a law suit is filed.
1. Consultation with an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
a. Call to set up a consultation with a reputable and experienced attorney. Our initial consultations are free of cost. Ben Dodge is a certified Master Advocate through the National Institute of Trial Attorneys. Having an experienced court room litigator answer your questions is always the best 1st step.
b. In your consultation you should provide the attorney with all the facts of loss and provide any documentation you have available at that time. This may include medical bills, receipts, lost wages claim, and more.
c. Do not speak with any insurance companies until meeting with your attorney. If you are needing to do so because you need to set up a rental car, etc., try to be as brief as possible on information you provide to them. They are trained to solicit answers from you to questions they ask that are only meant to help them.
2. Property Damage
a. Most attorneys do not fully handle the property damage portion as this is usually settled within 2 weeks depending on the circumstances. However, some firms will assist with this portion without additional fees.
b. If you are claiming any additional property damaged be sure to take photos and provide receipts if possible.
3. Medical Treatment
a. If you are not already receiving medical treatment it is best that you find the medical provider that will best fit your needs. Beginning and fully completing medical treatment for your injuries will significantly make or break your case.
b. Keeping up on your treatment and not having large gaps between treatment dates if not necessary.
c. Keep your attorney/paralegal updated on all medical treatment and letting them know when you are released from treatment.
d. Understanding that if you feel your injuries are not improving you can always get a second opinion or change providers.
e. Always understand that your medical treatment is your choice, and you are responsible to voice any concerns you may have.
f. Be sure you are providing your health insurance if discussed and if the provider accepts your insurance. If your health insurance is billed there is a chance that there may be a lien for a portion, or all of the payments made. This total is usually lower than the total cost of medical treatment. Your attorney/paralegal will confirm this with your health insurance. Medicare and Medicaid are automatically required to be reimbursed.
g. Pay your patient portion of any bills during the case to keep them from going to collections.
h. If a provider does not accept your insurance or for any reason you feel you do not want to use your health insurance, the provider may put your treatment on a lien. If this is done, the lien must be honored from your settlement payment. This goes for any liens filed against your settlement.
4. Developing Evidence
a. Your Paralegal will be doing this from the time you sign the fee agreement with the firm.
b. Collecting police report, video and photos, witness statements, accident reconstruction (if needed).
c. Medical records, itemized billing, and paycheck stubs (if you have missed time from work for medical treatment).
d. Contacting and retaining the necessary expert witnesses to help prove our theory of liability. As your attorney we will assess your case and the probably need of litigation. And in more complex cases we will want to gather our expert witnesses early on so they can eventually help steer the litigation process. Expert witnesses will also read and evaluate the evidence we collect to help formulate their opinion.
5. Demand Package (This will be done once all medical treatment has been completed)
a. A demand letter outlining the facts of the case and explaining why the opposing party is liable.
b. Medical records, itemized billing, police report, photos, and any other supporting documents will be included.
c. A demand amount will also be listed as to what the attorney is valuing your case at and a starting point for negotiations.
d. Once the demand package has been reviewed by the other side they will either: i. Accept the settlement offer ii. Respond with a counteroffer iii. Decline the offer.
e. Once an initial offer has been made the attorney/paralegal will follow up with you to discuss the offer and obtain your permission to either settle or respond with a counteroffer.
a. Once an offer has been accepted the adjuster will send over a release form for the client to sign.
b. Once the release has been signed you may not go after the defendant or insurance company for the same accident.
c. The signed release will be returned, and the check will be issued to your attorney office at which time funds will be disbursed.
d. Depending on the situation, after attorneys’ fees and costs, payments will be made accordingly. If there are liens filed, they must be paid from the settlement and anything further is discussed if you would like them paid directly or if you would like to handle paying the remaining providers.
7. UM/UIM/Medical Payments Coverage
- There are different types of coverages that may be used along with the third-party or in the case that there is not third-party coverage.
- Uninsured motorist would be used in the chance that the third-party does not have coverage or fled the scene and was unable to be contacted. This is coverage that is added to your own policy and is not automatically added.
- Under-insured motorist would be used when the third-party’s limits are not adequate to cover your medical expenses. This claim would be submitted once the third-party tenders their policy limits. This coverage is also added to your own policy and is not automatically added.
- Medical Payments is another additional coverage that you can add to your policy. This is something that we can submit for once we have billing that would equal the coverage available.
The above coverages are all optional and must be added upon your request. some insurance companies may offer and require you to sign if you refuse the coverage to show that it was offered.
8. File a Lawsuit
a. Filing a lawsuit becomes necessary when the at fault party’s insurance refuses to pay, or offers something so low it can never fully compensate our client. Filing a law suit has some strict timelines. Every case is different, however in most cases not involving a government municipality the timeline is 2 years from the date of the accident to file a law suit.
b. Cases involving governmental entities require a notice of claim to be filed at 6 months from the accident date. Then a lawsuit filing deadline of just 12 months from the accident date.
c. After the suit is filed there is a lengthy period of time where “discovery” and “disclosure” occurs. This is where both sides request and show each other critical information regarding the facts and theories of liability, etc. of the case. Cases are often won and lost with how well this process is done.
d. Next is depositions. Depositions are formal recorded and sworn testimonies under oath. They are often held at your attorney’s office or the offices of the defense lawyers. In a deposition you, the witnesses, and expert witnesses will all be asked questions under oath. These are used as a tool to nail down what testimony and what facts will be heard later at trial.
e. At anytime in the case, but particularly after the depositions are conducted, the Motions of a case are presented. Motions are often used to get certain facts thrown out, or theories of liability established prior to the trial. Here a lawyer can get a certain part of a case, or even a party to the case dismissed. Using the evidence collected so far through discovery and the depositions you can ask the judge make some decisions early, even before the trial. You do all of this through the Motions. Common motions include a Motion for Summary Judgment, or a Motion to Dismiss, and so on.
f. Settlement. At anytime a case can settle. Often after the discovery, or depositions, and the motions – a case may finally settle. If at any point both parties reach an agreement then they are free to settle. We have even seen this literally on the court house steps as a case is about to start a trial. We have also seen settlements happen during the middle of trials. Your lawyer should be good enough to always explore the maximum settlement opportunities for you at any given point in your case. Always weigh the settlement against the risk of trial.
g. Trial. Finally, if no settlement could be reached then we go to trial! Trial is where we present your case to a jury for you. The defense also presents their case against you to the jury. Then the jury ultimately decides. It is always a gamble. It is a risk that should be carefully thought through with every settlement offer. Many lawyers are inappropriately afraid of courtroom litigation and trial. You should avoid such lawyers. The best of our profession are proudly litigators. We are attorneys who run towards a courtroom not away from it. While many cases don’t end up in trial we are confident that when we prepare for a trial we get the better settlements. Our clients always net more because of the hard work we put in and the reputation we have.
Enjoy the ride! Hopefully you’ll never need us, but if you are ever involved in a wreck- we are here for you. My practice is exclusively for cyclists. I manage a national network of cycling attorneys who represent cyclists in every state. I ride. I race. I advocate. I choose to live and ride. #mylawyerdoesntsuck #arizonabicyclelawyer #bicyclelawyer #BAA
Ben Dodge, Esq., Endurance/Ultra Cyclist
Contributing Author for this article: Mandy Miller, @ Bike Accident Attorneys.
Bicycle crash and bicycle accident lawyer Ben Dodge
A bicycle crash is not always an accident. If you, or someone you know has been injured in a bicycle crash or accident caused by a road hazard or dangerous road condition, hire a personal injury attorney who is experienced and has a successful track record. Ben Dodge, a licensed Arizona bicycle accident lawyer, has dedicated his entire firm to one purpose: representing cyclists. Bicycle accident cases are the only cases Bike Accident Attorneys, PLC handles. Home based out of the great state of Arizona, Ben can still help cyclists in the entire United States. Ben also founded Bike Accident Attorneys Network, a national network of attorneys who focus on representing cyclists. He can find you help anywhere in the country.
Ben Dodge has represented and assisted bicycle accident victims across the entire United States. As an avid and competitive cyclist himself, Mr. Dodge currently participates in national and local cycling events all over the world. It isn’t uncommon to spot him in early morning hours out riding his bike. Having competed in 8 Ironman triathlons, numerous local and national cycling races, and a successful finish in the Race Across the West 2016, he really knows what it’s like to ride and race a bike. Ben competed in the first ever Race Across France – 2018. This was a non stop 1500+ mile race across the entire country of France. He and his teammate finished 3rd. He is registered for a 2 man Race Across America (RAAM) team as well in 2019.
The day he fell in love with his job was the day he devoted himself completely to bicycle accident cases. Ben represents cyclists injured in bicycle accidents, at the police station, with insurance companies, and in the courts. He advocates for the rights of all cyclists, not just his clients. He teaches police about bike laws and bike safety, he educates drivers about the rules of the road, and he trains cyclists and clubs to ride more safely.
A consultation with experienced Arizona bicycle accident attorney Ben Dodge is free
In recent years there has been approximately 700 bicycle fatalities in the United States every single year. Approximately 2,000 bicycle accidents are reported in Arizona every year. Approximately 30 fatal bicycle accidents are reported in Arizona every year. Bicycle fatalities are terrible and horrific tragedies that affect the lives of too many families and friends to count. Understanding your rights and obligations as a cyclist can bring clarity to your specific accident situation. It will always be in your best interest to be represented by an attorney who knows the bicycle laws and has a successful track record of winning bicycle accident cases. The negotiation tactics and strategies of winning a case are extremely important, but should always take a back row seat to the litigation experience and knowledge of court room rules, local, state, and federal rules of civil procedure that can have significant impact on your bicycle accident case. Ben is certified through the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA) as having completed extensive litigation courses and has demonstrated these skills over and over again. Most lawyers are pencil pushers and shouldn’t be in a court room… not Ben Dodge. He is a gifted and aggressive litigator. It is wise to be represented by someone well versed in bicycle accident law, local and state bicycle ordinances, rules, regulations, policies, and laws. You should hire someone very familiar with negligence and tort law, civil procedure, and the rules of evidence as they all relate specifically to bicycle accident cases.
Ben Dodge always offers a complimentary in person consultation to all local cyclists and a complimentary phone consultation to any cyclist injured in a bike accident. Typically the consultations are schedule from 30-60 minutes depending on the severity of the accident. You can expect to get answers to questions, clarity, information, and reassurance of your personal bike accident liability and potential for recovery. In your free consultation you can generally expect to discuss such topics as:
- Your specific bike accident details, diagrams, and pictures from your perspective and then from the perspective of your bike accident attorney.
- The applicable local, state, and federal laws underlying your case.
- Your rights as a cyclist, obligations, and any potential liability.
- The process, procedure (in and out of court), and the time frame required to conclude your case.
- The value of your case and what you might expect as compensation.
You can call Arizona bicycle lawyer Ben Dodge of Bike Accident Attorneys, PLC at 1.855.663.3922. Mr. Dodge’s staff is standing and ready to accept your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every single day of the year. Ben will personally return your call within 24 hours. There is never an obligation past a complimentary consultation with Mr. Dodge. His passion is in representing cyclists and his entire office stands ready to serve with kindness and patience.
Bike Accident Attorneys, PLC
Call Ben Dodge, the Bicycle Lawyer today at 1.855.663.3922. Reach him by fax at 1.800.958.8902.
Mr. Dodge can also be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
His main Arizona offices are located at:
Mesa Arizona (home base office)
4824 E. Baseline Rd., Suite 124
Mesa, Arizona 85206
Phoenix Arizona office
2415 e. Camelback Rd., suite 700
Phoenix, Arizona 85016
Tucson Arizona office
One South Church Avenue, 12th Floor
Tucson, Arizona 85701
Mr. Dodge represents cyclists in the entire state of Arizona including but not limited to Mesa, Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma, Gilbert, Peoria, Glendale, Scottsdale, Ahwatukee, Tempe, Chandler, Prescott, Sedona, Flagstaff, Surprise, Kingman, Page, Lake Havasu City, Payson, Goodyear, Buckeye, Queen Creek, Paradise Valley, Show Low, Winslow, Maricopa, Nogales, Globe, Avondale, Cave Creek, Fountain Hills, Apache Junction, Carefree, Wickenburg, Pinetop-Lakeside, Strawberry, Anthem, Safford, and more. Ben Dodge is currently involved with bicycle accident cases all over the country and has founded BikeAccidentAttorneys.com a National Network of independent and incredible bicycle lawyers that can assist in representation in all 50 states.