A personal injury claim is not only about the legal steps but also about being human and always ready to support victims in their endeavor to seek justice.
To develop your case, we investigate, hire our experts, coordinate with you, do all the necessary work, and put together the best settlement demand package.
Our next step will be to interview the law enforcement officers and witnesses who were involved in investigating your accident. We will take photographs of the accident scene and if we find it to be necessary, we will hire experts to help thoroughly investigate your case.
Next, we will notify the insurance companies that The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary has been retained by you for your case. We'll also request that the insurance company send us copies of any statements they may have received from you regarding your accident. Then, we will notify the treating physicians and hospitals that you have retained us as your attorney and we'll also ask that they do not provide information to investigators or insurance adjusters working for the other party in your case.
If you have incurred bills for injuries, we will send letters to the people to whom those bills are owed and let them know that you will execute a lien allowing them to receive reimbursement directly from your settlement for your injuries. Most creditors will agree to wait for payment if they are provided with a reason to do so.
You should expect it to take at least one month to six weeks to gather all of the information that we need. Witnesses might have moved or may be reluctant to speak with us. We also have to wait for your doctor’s final medical report about your condition and your possible future medical expenses, which may not be available until your doctor has completed your treatment. It sometimes will take between six to nine months or longer before we are able to get the report from your physician.
Before filing the actual lawsuit, we'll work to reach the best settlement for you outside the courtroom. However, a settlement should not occur until after your case investigation has completed, that is until you have reached medical improvement for your medical condition. Accepting a quick settlement offer could result in missing out on recovering medical expenses occurring in the future.
When we step into a case, even a smaller one, if we agree to take it, we agree to represent you until the insurance companies involved treat you fairly and make a fair settlement offer. If they don't, then we'll let a jury tell them what a fair amount is for compensation.
The lawsuit starts when we deliver a document called a “Complaint" to the responsible party. This document outlines the legal grounds for your lawsuit and generally discusses your injuries. You would be called the “Plaintiff” to the lawsuit while the responsible party would be called the “Defendant.“ The defense lawyers will deliver an “Answer” to the complaint, which is a court document. Upon filing and delivering the answer, the case is considered to be “at issue.”
Next, both you and the defendant will have the right to get information from each other through a process called “Discovery.“ Discovery in this sense means disclosure. In the discovery phase of the process, we have the right to obtain information, documents, and materials from the other side.
Both parties are allowed to serve interrogatories to each other, to obtain information through written questions that must be sworn to be true. Interrogatories must be returned within 30 days. “Depositions” may also be taken in which you and other witnesses provide sworn testimony in front of a court reporter. At your deposition, the opposing attorney will question you about your accident, how it happened and the injuries you sustained. Your deposition will be under oath and we will be present to prepare you and protect your interests.
Even after the lawsuit has started, it's always possible to reach a settlement. Settlements are often reached just prior to trial or after it has already begun.
If your claim is worth less than $50K, courts require that we try to reach a settlement with the help of a neutral mediator before the case goes to trial. It's still rare for a case to be tried, but many cases go all the way to the courthouse steps. The court will appoint a mediator, hear all of the evidence and hear all of the motions. The mediator will then issue their decision within 10 days of the hearing. If the decision we receive at mediation is not one that is reasonable, we may then appeal it and request a “Jury Trial” in Superior Court.
About 90% of cases settle before trial. The trial is a very expensive and time-intensive process. It's important that you know the risks and potential rewards of going to trial. A lot of times the threat of trial is what is important, the closer a case proceeds to trial, the more reasonable the parties become and cases settle.
If mediation does not result in a settlement, the case will be set for trial. The waiting time for the trial varies; however, it could be anywhere from six months to three years or even more. Once the date has been established, we can request that the court holds a pretrial conference where certain legal issues can be clarified.
We like to think of ourselves as distinguished from other law firms in that we try cases. Most lawyers settle cases; they don’t try them. You want a lawyer prepared to try your case, because the cases that are prepared and the lawyers that are ready to go to trial get better results than the ones who just settle them. We try cases, and we get great results.