Transcript: What Working With a Personal Injury Lawyer Looks Like
You’ve been hurt, it isn’t your fault. What do you do? The steps that we take at Hall and Copetas are going to be similar to the steps any law firm takes.
The first thing we do is investigate your accident
The investigation is both concerning the facts and circumstances of your accident: How did the cars crash? What does the sidewalk that you fell on look like? We take those pictures, we make those measurements.
The more important part—or really the more involved part—is the medical investigation
Once you’ve been injured, you can only attain one verdict in your case, so you have to lay all of your cards on the table. For that to happen, certain dominoes have to fall. What we look for is for you to get to a point medically where you are either 100% better or where you’ve reached a level of maximum improvement where we know what your injuries are—they’re not going to get much better, they’re not going to get much worse—and also when we know what your wage loss is: how long you’re going to miss from work, whether you need to make a new career—those sorts of things.
So, once we’ve completed the investigation of your case, we then put together a demand letter for you
The demand letter is a statement of everything that happened in your case that we present to the insurance company together with an offer of resolution. Then, either the insurance company is going to accept your demand or negotiate with you. And after a few days of negotiation, you’ll know whether or not you have to take your case to court.
If You Have to Take Your Case to Court, This is What it Looks Like
The lawsuit basically has four steps.
- The first step is called the pleading stage. Pleadings are a statement to the court of what your case is about.
- Once the pleadings close, the case moves into what is called “discovery.”
- Discovery is a process where the injured party gives all their file and all their information to the insurance company and the insurance company, likewise, gives all the information they have to the plaintiff’s attorney. There are supposed to be no surprises at trial. Included in that discovery process is written discovery, where there are written questions that are sent to each party.
- Then there are what are called “depositions.” Depositions are testimony that is taken under oath.
- The insurance carrier is entitled to have your statement of what happened to you, stated under oath, and during the deposition, it will assess you for your credibility. They will also assess you in terms of likability: Is this the type of person that a jury will like? Is this the type of person that a jury will want to give a lot of money to?
- So, at the close of the deposition is usually an opportunity to again resolve the case. After the discovery phase is completed, more and more often in Pennsylvania courts, mediation will take place. Mediation is a mechanism that the courts have adopted to cause cases to resolve rather than be tried in front of a jury. And what happens in mediation is the parties agree on a neutral attorney, they come together, they present their cases again to each other in an informal setting, and a discussion takes place about what the value of the case is and what can be agreed to and what can’t be agreed to. Often, cases resolve at mediation; but if they do not, often agreements are made as to how the case will be presented to a jury or whether the case can be arbitrated with some other type of litigation that is less expensive.
- And then finally, the last stage of litigation is obviously litigation in front of the judge. We have years of experience trying cases both in front of arbitration panels, juries, and judges by themselves
When you have been injured, solutions start here. At Hall and Copetas, we do our best to give our clients a voice in court. It’s your voice, so be heard.