Distressed man after accidentThis is the next post in our series on the rights of Minnesota personal injury victims. Our last article discussed how to deal with insurance adjusters after an accident. It is important to retain an attorney, rather than dealing with adjusters directly, to ensure you receive the highest possible financial recovery. In this post we will explain the stages of an accident * case. Our Rochester lawyers are ready to assist you if you have been harmed by someone else’s negligence. Contact us today.

The first stage of a personal injury matter is the time when a victim undergoes medical treatment. The important thing to understand about this stage is that it can take months, or even years, in cases involving a serious injury. People who have suffered serious harm need to be treated for up to a year before their long-term prognosis can be certified by a physician. Victims must be prepared for the fact that it may be some time before a settlement is received or a lawsuit is filed. In our experience, many victims expect a quick settlement after they have suffered a serious injury. A more measured approach, however, generally results in the optimum  financial outcome for plaintiffs.

The next stage of the process begins when your counsel sends a settlement demand to the insurance carriers. As we have mentioned previously, there will be negotiations. It is important to allow your lawyer to engage in these back and forth discussions. Some victims want to accept the first settlement offer while others want to file a lawsuit immediately if they find the initial counteroffer unacceptable. It is a mistake to accept the initial counteroffer. An insurance company’s first counteroffer tends to be a “lowball” or bottom of the range offer. It also is a mistake to file a lawsuit right away when patient negotiations may well result in a better offer. By resolving the matter through a settlement rather than a lawsuit, a victim usually benefits from substantial cost savings, may receive a higher dollar amount, and usually gets paid much quicker than going completely through the litigation process.

The final stage of the process is the commencement of litigation. A lawsuit is necessary when a settlement can’t be reached. The manner in which your own case proceeds depends on the type of accident you were involved in and the specific facts of your case. If your case requires a lawsuit, your counsel will name all possible defendants and use the discovery process to gather evidence of the defendant or defendants’ negligence. Expert witnesses will be retained to offer their opinions into the issues relating to liability and damages. Your lawyer will continue attempting to settle the matter while the litigation is proceeding. If a settlement can’t be reached, the case will be decided at a trial. A jury will decide the issues of fault and damages.

It is important to understand that litigating an injury case is complicated, which is why  we recommend you retain experienced representation. Our Rochester personal injury attorneys have recovered more than $125 million on behalf of our clients and take great pride in the level of service we provide. We also serve the following southeast Minnesota cities: Owatonna, Red Wing, Winona, Mankato, Austin, and Albert Lea, as well as the cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and Bloomington. We also serve the Iowa cities of Mason City, Charles City, Osage, Spencer, Garner, Forest City, and Northwood and the Wisconsin cities of La Crosse, Onalaska, Sparta, Viroqua, River Falls, Ellsworth, Whitehall, and Black River Falls.

*A note about language:

Federal agencies involved in traffic safety have banned use of the word “accident” for more than 20 years, and with good reason. However, we use the word “accident” on our website, even though we know it has implications that run contrary to our professional thinking and training, because we recognize that “accident” is the word most commonly used in online searches when people are looking for help after being injured in a crash. If you’d like more information about this topic, please see our blog, “Car Accident or Car Crash?”