What Should I Expect During a Car Accident Lawsuit in Kansas City, Including the Timeline and Process?
Before you get your driver’s license you have to learn the rules of the road and prove you can safely operate a vehicle. However, no one teaches you what to do if you are in a car accident or what to expect when you file a personal injury lawsuit.
So if you were in a car collision in Kansas City, and you’re wondering what happens next, keep reading. Here’s what you need to know about filing a lawsuit after an automobile collision.
Understanding Car Accident Lawsuits
If you cannot reach a fair car accident settlement with the other driver’s insurance company, you will have to file a lawsuit to pursue the compensation you deserve. Insurance companies approach every claim with the goal of paying as little as possible.
This outlook means there’s a strong chance that the amount they offer you in compensation for your injuries will not be enough to cover your medical bills, lost wages, and other economic damages you suffered. Alternatively, the opposing party may claim that your version of the event leading up to the accident is inaccurate and prefer to sort out the car accident case in court.
Hire a Professional
Working with an experienced attorney offers you the best chance of receiving a fair settlement, and if your lawsuit goes to court, you’ll need them to represent you throughout the litigation process. Ideally, you will have contacted a personal injury attorney immediately following your accident.
However, if you have yet to find a Kansas City attorney, now is the time to do so. Many attorneys offer a free case evaluation allowing you to meet with them and discuss how they can help you with your legal issues. Car accident cases handled by a skilled attorney are typically more successful than those where the victim represents themselves in court.
The Timeline of Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit
When you have been injured, the last thing you want to do is spend your time dealing with insurance companies. Instead, you will want your claim resolved so you can move on with your life and focus on recovering from your injuries.
Unfortunately, if a settlement cannot be reached, you will need to begin the litigation process, which can take months or, in highly complex situations, over a year, to complete. Hiring a lawyer is the best way to expedite filing a lawsuit and eliminate most of your stress, since they will perform the legwork needed for your case.
Preparing and Filing the Lawsuit
Once it has been established that your only course of action is filing a personal injury lawsuit, your lawyer will prepare your lawsuit. They will file a complaint, which is a legal document detailing your case.
The other driver and their insurance company will be served a copy of the complaint to inform them that you are bringing a suit against them. Sometimes this step can significantly slow down the process if the defendant (the other driver) tries to avoid being served.
In Missouri, an accident victim has five years from the date of the collision to bring a car accident case against the at-fault driver. While there are sometimes specific circumstances where the statute of limitations is extended, they are uncommon. Working with a lawyer prevents you from accidentally missing the deadline to file your lawsuit.
Preparation Is Essential
If you begin working with an attorney soon after your accident, they will already have the information they need to file a claim. Collecting medical records, the police report, and other documentation vital to your case can be time-consuming, so you’ll want to contact a legal professional as soon as you realize you will be pursuing compensation for your damages.
The sooner you begin working with an attorney, the sooner you can seek the recompense you deserve for your injuries. The car accident attorney will also help you compile the necessary information for the lawsuit.
Wait For the Defendant’s Response
The defendant will have a set amount of time to respond to the complaint. Typically they will have a month to respond, but proceedings can be slowed if the defendant files a motion to dismiss, which states that you did not file a proper claim, regardless of whether or not the information in your complaint is accurate.
Alternatively, the defendant may file a counterclaim. A counterclaim is when the defendant brings a claim against you similar to the one you filed against them. Encountering either of these responses from the other party can delay the progress of your case by several weeks.
Begin the Discovery Process
The discovery process allows your lawyer and the other party’s representation to review all the evidence and information pertaining to the case. However, discovery can be time-consuming, especially in car accident cases where the opposing party isn’t forthcoming with details.
If one party takes their time interviewing witnesses or requests additional documentation or evidence, this can extend discovery for months. In cases where there is extensive evidence for both sides to review, the discovery process can last over a year.
Going to Trial
If a summary judgment is not granted by the end of discovery, the case will go to court, where your car accident attorney will represent your side. A reasonably uncomplicated motor vehicle accident trial usually lasts a day or two, while cases addressing complex car accidents may last longer.
Either side may hire expert witnesses to support their case. An example of an expert witness would be a medical professional testifying that the victim’s injuries are as severe as they claim or offering their professional opinion on projected care expenses the victim will have.
In a Car Accident? Take These Steps
Immediately following the car accident, you’ll want to ensure any injured parties seek medical attention and that the police are called to write a police report detailing what you and the other driver remember from the collision. You’ll also need to exchange information with the other party, such as your contact and insurance information.
Gather data such as the other person’s vehicle information and license plate number. If anyone witnessed the collision, ask for their contact information because you may need to request witness statements to validate your side of the story. If you have to resolve your claim through a court case, evidence will help you prove the accuracy of your version of events.
Keep Detailed Notes
Most car accident cases will settle outside of court. Having more data proving your economic and non-economic damages increases your chance of receiving a fair car accident settlement offer. Keep a thorough record of your medical bills, property damage, and any ongoing medical treatments you must receive because of the car accident.
Throughout the car accident settlement process, this information will be valuable. Your attorney will also use this information to craft your demand letter, impacting the settlement amount the insurance company offers you. If you cannot reach an agreement with the insurance company and your accident claim goes to court, documentation of your pain and suffering, medical expenses, and other expenses will make your accident case stronger.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
Suppose you suffer personal injury or property damage from a motor vehicle accident. In that case, you’ll want to hire a Kansas City lawyer to help you pursue compensation for expenses caused by the collision. An attorney can help you seek reimbursement for medical treatment, lost income, property damage, and noneconomic damages associated with serious injuries.
Going up against the other driver’s insurance provider and proving the validity of your car accident claim will be challenging without an attorney. Insurers do not have your best interests at heart, which means they do not want to give you more money than they have to and will try to avoid providing full compensation.
File a Car Accident Claim
A lawyer will help you file a personal injury claim with the other driver’s insurance provider. They will also present your situation in the best light to help get you the most beneficial settlement agreement possible.
Wait on the Insurance Company Investigation
The insurance company will investigate your situation as part of the car accident settlement process. They will look at which party is responsible for the collision.
They will also consider whether either party had to seek medical attention and the severity of their injuries and listen to witness statements to help them determine a fair settlement offer. It isn’t just the other party’s insurance company that will be investigating the accident. Your own car insurance company will be looking into the incident as well.
Your Lawyer Will Present a Demand Letter
A demand letter is designed for beginning the negotiation process between parties. A well-written demand letter can help you resolve your situation more quickly and even prevent you from enduring a lengthy court case by helping facilitate a fair settlement agreement.
Complete Car Accident Settlement Negotiations
After the other person has received your demand letter, the negotiation process will start. Your lawyer will go back and forth with the opposing party and work to get you the most lucrative settlement amount possible.
In an ideal situation, you can reach a reasonable settlement agreement. However, if the opposing party will not offer an amount that is fair to you, then it will be time to file a lawsuit to pursue the compensation you need for your damages.
Contact a Kansas City Attorney
Insurance companies look into car accidents, review evidence, and examine police reports to determine the appropriate amount to offer for their car accident settlements. Since they are not looking out for your best interests, you’ll want a professional in your corner to guarantee your rights are protected.
Wendt Law Firm P.C. Will Fight For You
Don’t let yourself be buried under medical bills from the injuries you received during an accident. Whether your claim settles out of court or goes to trial, our team members will do everything in their power to secure the most beneficial outcome for your case.
Let our team of experienced legal professionals pursue the compensation you deserve. Contact Wendt Law Firm P.C. today at 816-542-6734 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation.