Enduring any accident can be a terrifying experience, but it can be particularly traumatic if caused by someone else’s lack of care or misconduct. Whether you are injured in a car accident, by a physician’s negligence, or by a defective product, you should not bear the related physical, emotional, and financial burdens.
Instead, the person responsible for causing your injury should be held liable for your losses. Our Lewiston personal injury attorney can help.
The thought of pursuing a personal injury lawsuit can seem daunting and scary. With the help of a seasoned attorney, the Maine personal injury lawsuit process can be smooth and worry-free.
If you are contemplating filing a case but want to familiarize yourself with the process and what to expect, you have come to the right place. Below we discuss the overall approach you can expect from the moment your accident occurs through the conclusion of your case. Remember, each case is unique, so while this is an overall guideline, the process can vary a bit from one claim to the next.
After an accident, you should seek immediate medical care. Depending on the type of accident and severity of your injuries, this may mean going straight to the emergency room for immediate treatment.
Other times, if your injury seems less severe or you are not immediately sure if you are injured, you should schedule an appointment with your primary care physician as soon as possible.
It is common for your body to be in shock after an accident, and you might not initially be aware of your injury. What may seem like a minor injury at first can often progress over time into severe pain and discomfort.
Other medical treatments can include the following:
Injuries from an accident can vary tremendously, and so can the necessary treatments. It is possible your only medical care will involve a quick trip to the emergency room, but it is also possible your injury will require extensive and multiple treatments.
Following an accident, you should become an evidence gatherer. Start by documenting and recording what you can of the scene. Even snapping some photos of the scene with your phone can be extremely helpful if you decide to pursue a legal claim later. If you are physically able, take pictures of the cars, injuries, road conditions, weather conditions, and anything else that might be relevant to your case.
You also want to keep copies of any receipts for medical treatment or property repair (e.g., car repairs). If you are contemplating a civil suit, you’ll want to request copies of any police report taken at the scene.
Making a mental note of what occurred just before the accident and immediately after is also helpful, but it is better to write down your recollections as soon as possible to preserve them better. Also, take a moment to survey the scene to see if there are any witnesses or nearby businesses that have surveillance videos of the area.
If you are reading this after your crash and realize that you missed many of these steps, do not panic. While it’s best to follow the above steps, you can still have a successful personal injury suit even if you didn’t document any evidence early on.
Our legal team is well-versed in investigating accidents, requesting documents, and even subpoenaing witnesses—and we can help you recover the evidence you need.
You might be sure you want to pursue legal action after an accident, or you may feel uncertain. Either way, you should consult a Lewiston personal injury lawyer to discuss your options.
Many people do not know you can seek damages beyond medical costs. More than anything, you may want your life to return to how it was before the accident. A personal injury lawsuit can help get you there, and an experienced attorney can lead the way.
Personal injury lawsuits require that you abide by certain time limitations and follow evidentiary and court rules. It is not a process we recommend taking on by yourself. A lawyer encounters the practices, parties, and courthouses daily. They can help you succeed.
After many accidents, most commonly motor vehicle accidents, you will file a claim before filing a lawsuit. This claim will likely be with the defendant’s insurance company. Your attorney will then make a very high settlement demand to allow for room for negotiation.
The parties will try to reach an agreement, sometimes immediately and other times after some investigation and discovery. If both sides can settle by agreeing to a fair amount, you will wait for your check, continue your recovery, and resume your life.
If you cannot settle, your attorney will discuss filing a lawsuit at this time. Some discovery might already have been shared between the parties, but at this point, the discovery process will kick into full gear as each side seeks evidence to support its arguments.
The parties will exchange documents, conduct depositions, consult expert witnesses, engage in mediation, and continue to work toward a resolution.
If, after many months of discovery and negotiations, you still cannot settle, your case will proceed to a trial. Here, the plaintiff and defendant will present their case to the judge or jury, including their witnesses and evidence. As the plaintiff, you have the burden to prove your case which often rests on the theory that the defendant was negligent.
Remember that every case will follow a unique trajectory to some extent. Upon speaking with our attorneys, we can provide you with a better understanding and expectation of what lies ahead in your case.
Most personal injury lawsuits end in an out-of-court settlement rather than a trial. Many clients and potential clients want to know about the “average” personal injury settlement. However, there really is no such thing as an average, as each case has unique factors that can alter its value significantly.
If you think about this, it makes sense. For instance, a motorcycle accident survivor’s compensation may drastically differ from someone who slipped on a wet floor in a grocery store.
Some victims have no interest in proceeding to trial and would like to settle their claims. If that is the case, a knowledgeable and skilled attorney can help you successfully negotiate with the defendant and insurance carrier to achieve a favorable outcome.
Several factors are considered in settlement negotiations, including the following:
Remember, a settlement usually requires a compromise between the parties. Your attorney will discuss the pros and cons of settlement vs. trial.
Each state provides a time limit for pursuing specific claims, including personal injury lawsuits. This timeframe is known as the statute of limitations.
Most states have a two-year statute of limitations for a plaintiff to initiate a personal injury lawsuit. However, Maine has one of the most generous timeframes, giving its citizens six years to file. While most plaintiffs have up to six years from the date of the accident to file a claim, there are certain exceptions to this rule that may make that window shorter or longer.
For instance, if you seek to sue the state or a municipality, the statute of limitations is much less, and you will have to file your lawsuit much more expeditiously. Conversely, if a plaintiff is incapacitated or a minor, they may have over six years to bring their suit.
Another common question is, How much does a personal injury lawyer cost? The answer can vary depending on the lawyer, firm, or jurisdiction, but most personal injury lawyers are paid on a contingency fee basis. This means they are only paid if the attorney gets compensation for the client.
Then, after receiving their award or settlement money, the lawyer takes an agreed-upon percentage as their fee. Every lawyer and law firm will have their specific fee structure. At Mann Law, we only get paid when you do. Call us to learn more, as we are happy to answer any questions you might have.
Do I need a personal injury lawyer? No law requires hiring an attorney to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. But we encourage accident victims to hire an attorney when contemplating filing a civil case. Even if you have handled legal matters for yourself, such as a small claims case or an uncontested divorce, a personal injury matter is different.
Often the defendants involved have deep pockets and have many attorneys on hand to prepare rigorous defenses. Corporations and insurance companies have teams of lawyers and adjusters on hand who are looking out for the company’s bottom line.
This means that insurance adjusters and defendants often try to get injured victims to accept a minuscule settlement upfront to avoid further litigation.
They know you need money and hope that you will take their first or second offer. But it is likely a very low number that will not cover your current or future costs, and once you accept, you can never go back for more money.
Therefore, you should not take these offers or discuss the case without your lawyer present. Remember that their job is to pay out as little as possible. Our job is to get you and your family the compensation you need to make it through this difficult time.
You have rights and options if you or a loved one were injured in an accident in or around Lewiston. We have helped and guided accident victims to physical, mental, and financial recovery for nearly two decades. Let us assist you. Contact us at your convenience to schedule a free consultation.