Anyone injured through the fault of another has the absolute right to seek compensation. This is where an experienced injury attorney comes in. The process starts by executing a contingency fee contract which has been called the poor mans key to the court house. The attorney will not receive a fee unless you make a recovery. The attorney will also "advance" the costs required to pursue your case. The costs may include filing, expert and other fees.
Once an attorney has been retained he/she should tell you what to expect. In my office we start by learning the accident facts. We obtain accident reports if they exist, interview witnesses, obtain hospital and medical records etc.
I generally advise the at fault party of my representation upon being retained and ask them to notify their insurance company of your claim. We also request that they preserve any relevant evidence in their possession.
In the meantime we monitor your medical progress and when your treating doctors are able to render meaningful opinions about your condition and prognosis I will meet with you and we'll agree upon making an initial demand to settle your case.
Its always best to settle cases without filing a lawsuit whenever possible. If the insurance company makes a fair offer we will settle. Usually the insurance company won't make an acceptable pre suit offer however and a lawsuit is necessary.
Once a suit is filed the defense will begin with what is called "paper discovery" by asking you to answer written questions under oath and requesting all of your pre and post accident medical records. The defense will also want to take your deposition which your attorney should prepare you for and attend with you. At some point the defense will also ask for you to be examined by a doctor they choose.
During this process your attorney will also obtain relevant records, send written questions to the defendant and take depositions.
The defendant can and often will make new settlement offers as your case progresses however if an acceptable offer isn't made your attorney will request a trial date.
Once the Judge sets the case for trial final trial preparations are made. Sometimes an insurance company will ultimately make an acceptable offer on the eve of or even during trial. If not your case will be decided by a Jury.
This is a brief explanation of how what you can expect if you exercise your right to make an injury claim.