The specific process for personal injury claims varies from state to state. The general steps of the process, however, remain similar for most types of personal injury claims in Colorado and elsewhere. What's also important are the deadlines and time limits associated with the process, and missing a deadline could significantly harm your claim.
Overview of Personal Injury Claims Process
The process of a personal injury claim depends on multiple factors, like the injury, the location, and victim, and the at-fault party. The general process, however, can be summarized as the following seven steps.
- Initial consultation, where the victim meets with an attorney to discuss the claim.
- Investigation, where the facts and circumstances are investigated, collected, and analyzed.
- Treatment, where the victim gets and continues with medical treatment or a care plan.
- Demand package, where a personal injury claim or demand letter is sent to the at-fault party.
- Negotiations, where the parties negotiate the terms and amount of compensation.
- Settlement, where the parties agree to a settlement.
- Litigation, where settlement fails and trial ensues.
Initial Steps Following an Accident or Injury in Colorado
Following an accident or injury, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention to treat any injuries. Medical treatment is important for the injured person's well-being, but a failure to seek treatment could also be viewed as a sign that the injuries were not serious.
Additionally, an injured person should consult a personal injury attorney as soon as possible following an injury. This allows the attorney to start the investigation early, request the required records, and review any insurance policies. A personal injury lawyer will know the required factual circumstances to establish liability and the records needed to secure compensation in a settlement or at trial.
Demand for Compensation and Negotiations
A demand for compensation is commonly submitted to the insurance companies or responsible parties' attorneys after the injured person reaches their maximum level of recovery and the necessary facts and documents have been collected. Once submitted, the parties generally enter into the negotiation process, which could involve additional interviews and document requests.
If the parties agree on an amount of compensation for any damages, they will enter into a settlement and the claim will be resolved without proceeding to court. Many personal injury claims result in settlements prior to filing a lawsuit. There is a risk of stalling negotiations, however, when the parties view the case's value or circumstances differently.
Personal Injury Lawsuit Process in Colorado
It is important to understand that filing a personal injury lawsuit does not mean a claim can no longer be resolved through a settlement. Rather, cases are typically filed to comply with the state deadline, known as the statute of limitations, which could bar recovery if not met.
There are three basic stages that make up the process of a personal injury lawsuit: pleadings, discovery, and trial.
- Pleadings. The pleadings stage includes the injured party's complaint and demand for judgment as well as the other parties' answers and defenses.
- Discovery. The discovery phase includes written questions and depositions for further investigation of a case.
- Trial. The trial is generally the final step in the lawsuit where each side presents their case, and a judge or jury determines fault and the amount of compensation, if any.
Throughout each of these stages, both parties can and should continue to negotiate for a settlement. At Hagen Nares PLLC, we believe any settlement must favor our clients and provide them with the compensation they deserve.
When to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney in Colorado
A personal injury attorney is not required to pursue a claim. That said, the process is often complex and requires significant knowledge and understanding of the laws and rules. For this reason, it is typically a good idea to discuss a personal injury claim with an experienced attorney even if it is a minor claim that might seem straightforward. That's where Hagen Nares PLLC steps in.
If a personal injury claim involves severe damages or contention from the involved parties, it is unlikely the case will be settled in a quick manner for a fair amount. When significant compensation is at stake, the responsible parties might attempt to shift the blame or do everything in their power to avoid paying what the injured party deserves. A personal injury attorney can help effectively use the settlement process to fight for fair compensation.