If you have been injured or involved in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, Burnetti, P.A. understands your hardships. In addition to coping with the physical and emotional aftermath, you may also be wondering what to expect during your case. At Burnetti, P.A., we strive to provide you with understanding and peace of mind about your claim, and work hard to make the legal process as easy as possible during this difficult time.
Stages to a Case
While you are focusing on your recovery, Burnetti, P.A. will be focusing on building your case. Cases are generally perceived in many stages, and the stages vary depending on the type of case. Generally there are two stages in a case – pre-litigation and litigation.
The Pre-litigation Stage
In pre-suit litigation phase, Burnetti, P.A. has several investigators and paralegals who are putting together the investigation of the case. Many things happen behind the scenes such as:
· Investigating facts
· Compiling evidence
· Taking witness statements
· Dealing with insurance companies
· Determining insurance amounts
· Taking photographs
· Sending spoliation of evidence letters (letters that say what evidence should be maintained and preserved and not discarded, destroyed, repaired, etc.)
· Gathering of medical records
Healing During the Pre-Litigation Stage
While Burnetti, P.A. is working on the investigation, the client’s obligation during this pre-litigation phase is normally to treat faithfully with the health care providers and follow the orders of the doctors. The ultimate goal is to do a full and complete investigation while the injured client is treating so that when the investigation is done and the client’s treatment is completed and reached some plateau, a demand letter can be sent to the insurance company/potential defendant prior to filing a lawsuit.
Pre-Litigation Phase Duration
Many clients ask how long the pre-litigation phase takes. Unfortunately, it is hard to say for sure. All cases are different. Sometimes a pre-litigation case can be done in four weeks and sometimes it takes many months. Usually, the length of the pre-litigation phase depends on the injuries involved and the time necessary for treatment and rehabilitation of those injuries. For example, if someone needs surgery, the pre-litigation phase is probably going to be longer than a case that does not involve surgery.
Personal Injury Settlement Negotiations
Normally some level of negotiation will occur after a demand letter is sent. If the client is able to agree with the insurance company/potential defendant on a reasonable settlement amount, the case ends at that point. If a settlement is not reached, a lawsuit is then filed at which time the case moves into the litigation phase.
The Litigation Stage
When a lawsuit is filed, many things happen. Normally, the first response from the opposing party is in the form of a written answer. At that point, the case starts moving into a time of discovery. Discovery can be in the form of:
· Written questions
· Written request to produce
· Written request for admission
· Oral depositions
· Site investigations
· Subpoenas for records
During this time of discovery, the defense lawyer(s) will take the deposition of the injured person, which is really a time of providing sworn testimony about the incident and the injuries. The personal injury lawyers of Burnetti, P.A. will also seek discovery during that time period in the form of depositions of witnesses and the defendants.
During the discovery phase, many defense lawyers will send the injured party for a compulsory (required) medical evaluation by a defense doctor who will be providing testimony against the injured party and in favor of the insurance company. A mediation will also occur, which is an informal settlement conference at which time the parties try to resolve the case. Usually these mediations are court ordered. After the mediation, the case heads towards a trial which is set by the judge. 95% of the time, the trials are jury trials at which time all the evidence is presented to a jury who then decides the issues of liability and damages.
Litigation Phase Duration
Many factors affect the length of time of the litigation phase, including the complexity of the issues, the type of case, the schedule of the judge, etc. Sometimes the litigation phase can take four to five months, or it can take more than a year. Many factors affect the length of time involved.
Contact Us if You Have Any Questions
At Burnetti, P.A., we put forth every effort to provide our clients with consistent, reliable and quality service. If you have any questions about your case, please don’t hesitate to contact us.