One of the issues injured car accident victims in Pennsylvania often consider is whether they should file motor vehicle accident lawsuits against the at-fault drivers. After deciding that they want to pursue lawsuits, injured drivers, passengers and pedestrians often want to know what the next steps are or how the litigation process works. This article will address these issues and provide a general outline of what happens after victims decide to pursue motor vehicle accident lawsuits.
One of the first things a PA car accident injury lawyer will ask a client during the initial consultation is if a police officer was at the scene of the car accident. If there was a police officer, he/she would write a police report detailing how the accident happened after talking to all involved parties and witnesses, if any. The police officer will give the parties involved a reference number and instructions on how to obtain the police report. If the injured victim has not obtained the police report at the time of the meeting with the lawyer, the lawyer will obtain the report.
The police report is important because it may contain details as to who was at fault. If witnesses were interviewed, their contact information will also be in the report. Oftentimes, seriously injured car accident victims cannot talk to witnesses immediately after the accidents and do not know who they are. The lawyer can obtain the police report and contact the witnesses asking them to provide statements to help establish liability in the case if necessary.
Another thing that the lawyer will do immediately after the initial client meeting is obtain the injured victim’s medical records. In a car accident lawsuit, the amount of financial compensation injured victims may recover is partly dependent on the extent of their injuries. In order to prove injuries, medical records are needed. They provide notes and reports from treating physicians regarding the injured victims' injuries.
Medical records are not just obtained after the initial meeting. They are be obtained periodically as injured victims receive additional treatments.
In addition to being compensated for their injuries, injured victims may also recover past and future lost wages. Gathering evidence of lost wages via W2s and tax returns will also be necessary.
Once the lawyer has an idea of the extent of the injuries and damages suffered by the victim via medical records, tax returns, etc., he may submit a financial demand to the at-fault driver's insurance company. At that time, the at-fault driver’s insurance company and the victim’s lawyer may be able to settle the case after negotiations. If the case cannot be settled, a complaint is filed to begin legal proceedings.
Click here to part 2 of this article which discusses what happens after a motor vehicle accident complaint is filed.