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Stages In a Personal Injury Claim
April 10, 2023

Stages In a Personal Injury Claim

by Jim Adler

Last Update: Sep. 28, 2023

Personal injury claims go through several different stages. They may either be resolved with a quick settlement, or they may require mediation or even go to trial. Let’s break down the process:


Stage 1: Consultation with Your Attorney
First, you will need to call and engage an injury law firm of your choice. You will then attend your first free consultation. The meeting typically lasts 30-60 minutes and will consist of information gathering and getting to know your lawyer. You will bring all supporting documentation with you. This includes, but is not limited to, police reports, medical bills and records, pictures, and videos, and whatever else is requested. After reviewing all of your information, your attorney will let you know if they can represent you.

Stage 2: Fact Finding
Next, you will need to sign an agreement to accept representation, your lawyer will begin their own investigation into your case. Your attorney may speak with key witnesses, police officers, doctors, employers, etc. The purpose of the investigation is to determine what percentage each party involved is at fault and how much compensation they will attempt to collect. This process can take months depending on the circumstances surrounding your case.

Important Note: Texas uses “fault percentages” in personal injury cases. Typically, if you are under 51% at fault, you may still be eligible for compensation. For example, you would receive $50,000 in a $100,000 case if you were 50% at fault.

Stage 3: Reaching a Settlement or Filing Suit
During this stage, your attorney is going to attempt to reach a settlement with the defendant without having to go to trial. If your attorney cannot reach a settlement, they may advise to file a suit in a Texas court. This point is when you’ll usually have another opportunity to reach a settlement.

If a settlement is not reached, your lawyer will advise you take the case to court.

Filing A Lawsuit

Stage 4: Filing a Petition
A lawyer ‘files a petition’ outlining the plaintiff’s claims against the defendants.

Stage 5: Service and Answer
The lawyer will serve the petition to the defendants through a process called ‘service.’ The defendants will then respond with an ‘answer’ in court after being served the petition by the lawyer.

Stage 6: Trial Date and Discovery
The court will issue a docket control order, which will set the ‘trial date’ and pre-trial deadlines. During the ‘discovery‘ process, both parties will exchange information by sending written requests for information or copies of documents to the other side. Each side will need to answer truthfully. During this time, both sides can also interview witnesses under oath via a process called ‘depositions.’

If the parties intend to hire experts to explain their respective sides of the case to the jury, they will disclose it at this time as well.

Each side may try to limit evidence at trial through ‘pre-trial motions‘ following the discovery process.

Stage 7: Mediation
The parties may attempt to resolve the case through ‘mediation,’ guided by a neutral mediator (not a judge). Over 95% of cases settle at this stage.

Stage 8: Jury Selection and Trial
Finally, if mediation does not reach a settlement, the case will go to trial with jury selection and possibly an appeal afterward.

How long will a personal injury claim take to settle?

Every personal injury case is unique and will be different in duration and outcome. Some will settle quickly, while others can take years.

You typically receive settlement checks within 30-45 days after settling a case, though liens or other issues may delay payment. These issues can include Medicare or child support. Settlements cover medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The amount for pain and suffering will vary on the case and the trial’s location.

In Texas, cases that must go to trial will be set about one year after filing. Cases can take up to two years or more if the court delays the trial to enable more discovery or because of scheduling conflicts.

If you have questions or need help with a personal injury claim, contact our experienced injury attorneys for a free case review or call us at 1-800-505-1414.

About Jim Adler

Jim Adler, also known as The Texas Hammer®, is an American trial attorney and owner of Jim Adler & Associates. He has been practicing law in Texas in the area of personal injury for 54 years.

Jim Adler graduated from the University of Texas School of Law where he received his Juris Doctor degree (J.D.) in 1967.

Jim Adler is a member of the State Bar of Texas, American Bar Association (ABA) and American Trial Lawyers Association. He is licensed to practice in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and U.S. District Courts of Texas. Read More

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