Steps in a personal injury lawsuit

The personal injury lawsuit process is complex and involves several steps. Still, with the assistance of an experienced Nix Patterson personal injury attorney, you could secure compensation for your medical bills, rehabilitation, lost earnings, and pain and suffering.

But what, exactly, does this process look like? We’ll break it down for you, step-by-step, below.

Step 1: Obtaining Medical Treatment

The first step in filing a personal injury lawsuit is to seek prompt medical treatment when you’re hurt. Prompt care is vital from personal health and legal perspectives after a severe accident.

Talk to your doctor about your accident symptoms, even minor ones. For instance, if your groin feels sore, you may have pulled soft tissue when you stomped on the brakes.

You could also have delayed symptoms of serious injuries, so tell your doctor about any other discomfort you feel. Having all of your injuries documented from the beginning will aid your attorney’s job immensely. If your lawyer can point to a complete medical report after the accident that demonstrates your accident-related injuries, you have a better chance of a solid settlement.

Step 2: Finding a Personal Injury Lawyer

You might not need a personal injury attorney if you were in a minor accident without injuries and a damaged fender. But if you have substantial property damages and injuries, you would be well served to retain an attorney promptly. The law firm you hire has the resources and seasoned attorneys available to perform a thorough investigation and prove liability.

They will gather evidence, identify liable parties, verify which insurance policies can be tapped for compensation, and determine the approximate case value. Your attorney also understands the games insurance companies play to pay you a smaller settlement.

Remember, most personal injury law firms, including Nix Patterson, offer free consultations to gauge the strength of your case. We’ll let you know if there is no case or if it is not worth paying attorney fees.

The attorney you contact will want to understand several things from you at the start:

  • How the accident happened. If you made a statement to the police, bring it with you. Your attorney wants to know your version and who you say is responsible. Most people won’t admit if they were partially at fault, but you should. It’s always best to tell your attorney the truth, even if you think it hurts the case.
  • The extent of your medical bills. Your lawyer will want to know your current medical bills and your treatment plan going forward.
  • Your injury limitations. How injured are you? What can you do and not do? Knowing how bad the injuries are and the constraints imposed on you is essential.
  • Whether your injury means you cannot work. If you can’t, lost wages could add substantially to your compensation.

During the consultation, your attorney will tell you what to expect during the claims process. This could be a ballpark compensation idea based on your provided evidence.

Step 3: Sending a Demand Letter

The next step in the personal injury lawsuit is your attorney drafting an insurance demand letter for the truck accident or other accident. The demand letter will describe what happened in the accident, your injuries and damages, and the number you want to settle the case.

The insurance company may take several actions. Usually, they will reject the demand letter and counter with a lower offer. However, the other party may accept the offer if they were clearly at fault. If they do not negotiate much on the settlement, your personal injury attorney can pressure them with the time and expense of a personal injury lawsuit.

Step 4: Filing a Complaint

If the defendant and their insurance company don’t agree to a just settlement, your attorney may recommend filing a legal complaint and lawsuit. In many states, you have two years from the date of injury to file a personal injury lawsuit, but talk to your attorney about your state’s rules.

Step 5: Discovery

The discovery process begins after the plaintiff and defendant file their pleadings with the civil court and serve each other. This may take the longest of every part of the case. The plaintiff and defendant will use various discovery tools to find essential information about the other side, including eyewitnesses, accident reconstruction experts, and other parties involved. Your personal injury attorney may use these discovery tools to obtain important case information:

Step 6: Pre-Trial Procedures

Before the trial starts, there will be various pre-trial procedures where the parties may attempt to settle before proceeding with the case. It may benefit both parties to settle the case outside of court.

For the defendant, it avoids being found liable by a jury and paying more than a settlement. For the plaintiff, you could get more money in a trial if the fault is clear for the accident or if the defendant acted with malice. If there is no agreement, the case will go to trial. There also could be several pre-trial motions regarding witnesses, evidence, and other legal matters.

Step 7: Mediation or Arbitration

Before the trial starts, the judge may order both parties to mediate or arbitrate to arrive at a deal. A mediator will bring the lawyers and clients together to resolve differences.

The mediator is a communicator between the two lawyers to settle. The mediator’s recommendation is non–binding, so you can still go to trial if you like.

The other option is arbitration. If the judge wants arbitration or both sides agree, a retired attorney or judge will arbitrate the case and make a decision according to the law. Arbitration decisions are usually legally binding, so both parties must obey the settlement.

Step 8: Trial Litigation

With no settlement, each side will present its best case in court. The attorneys for both the plaintiff and the defendant can cross-examine the witnesses offered by the other. The court will determine the facts of the case and whether you have proved the other party was at fault by a preponderance of the evidence.

If the judge or jury rules in your favor, the defendant could still appeal, and you will not receive any compensation yet. Or, if you lost the case, you could appeal the verdict to a higher court.

Regarding settlement negotiations or going to trial, your attorney will advise on the best legal strategy. Whether to settle or go to court depends on many case-specific factors, such as your injury severity, if the other party was clearly at fault, and how quickly you need money to recover.

How Your Personal Injury Attorney Is Compensated

An essential part of the personal injury lawsuit process is how everyone gets paid. At the top of the case, your attorney should have explained how they are compensated in writing. Most personal injury attorneys use a contingency agreement and are paid a percentage of your settlement or award. Contingency arrangements benefit injured clients because it’s not necessary to pay upfront legal fees for an attorney’s services. In other words, if you don’t win, you don’t pay legal fees.

How a Nix Patterson Personal Injury Attorney Can Help You

If a negligent party recently injured you, you shouldn’t be forced to pay out-of-pocket costs and suffer mental and physical pain without compensation. Nix Patterson’s personal injury attorneys can file a lawsuit against the negligent party and fight for the most compensation for your losses. If you lost a loved one in an accident caused by someone else, your attorney can file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Our attorneys will review your case for free, and there is no obligation. If we accept your personal injury case, you won’t pay legal fees unless we win compensation for you in a settlement or lawsuit.


Nix Patterson only works on a contingency fee basis. Our clients pay us nothing unless we win. Schedule a free consultation today. Call 512.328.5333 or complete the form below. 

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