A personal injury claim is generally an unusual and confusing process for most people because they are not normally in this situation and are handling this new situation while injured and trying to recover. It is okay to be confused and want to receive some clarity about the process. This short article will breakdown the general personal injury claims process here in New Mexico. While your specific personal injury claim is generally very specific to you and the facts of your case, the general steps of the process remain similar for most types of personal injury claims in New Mexico and elsewhere. What's also important are the deadlines and time limits associated with the process, and missing a deadline could significantly harm the personal injury claim. The main deadline is your statute of limitations or the deadline to bring a claim. Generally that is two (2) years against a government entity and three (3) years for a person/corporation.
At Gauthier & Maier Law Firm, P.C., our personal injury attorneys in Los Lunas, Belen, and Albuquerque knows the process and files timely claims. Call us today at 505-226-3205 or fill out an online form to schedule your Free Consultation. This article is merely to provide you a general understanding of the process but please work with your attorney to get more specific details.
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 eight 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.
- Collection of medical records, where we collect all medical records, bills, and liens.
- 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 a trial ensues.
Initial Steps Following an Accident or Injury in New Mexico
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. The insurance companies will use the lack of medical treatment to call into question your injuries or try to claim that the delayed treatment should discount the value of your claim for additional pain and suffering under a defense of failure to mitigate damages.
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.
After the consultation with your attorney, you will continue your medical treatment and likely be referred to specialist, chiropractor, therapist, or other medical providers. Once you have been discharged from your medical providers, your attorney will collect your medical records and bills. This is done now to make sure all bills and records or collected and most providers will charge for this service, each time your records are collected. Once all the medical records and bills are collected, a demand letter will be prepared.
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. A demand letter is a detailed summary of your legal/insurance claim. You will meet with an attorney to discuss every possible claim and damage for your case and lay out those damages in a letter. The information from this meeting will be incorporated into your demand letter. Once the demand letter has been submitted to the liable party and/or the correct insurance carrier, they will have generally a month to review the demand letter, your medical records, medical bills, and other documents to support your claim. Sometimes, the insurance company will need additional time to review the claim and possibly have additional questions that will be answered with your attorney. 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. If the parties are not able to come to an agreed settlement amount, then litigation or the filing of a lawsuit are the next step.
Personal Injury Lawsuit Process in New Mexico
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. The general lawsuit will have more settlement negotiations with a third-party mediator after the depositions of the Plaintiff and Defendants has occurred and before expert witnesses are retained. At Gauthier & Maier Law Firm, P.C., we believe any settlement must favor our clients and provide them with the compensation they deserve.
When to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney in Los Lunas, Belen, and Albuquerque
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. Additionally, most insurance companies will take advantage of your lack of knowledge and understanding of the law and rules to try and settle for a low value. Generally, a lawyer is able to double or triple the value of your claim and resolve all possible liability that you have for receiving a settlement against your health insurance and medical providers. 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 Gauthier & Maier Law Firm, P.C. 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.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer in Los Lunas, Belen, and Albuquerque Today
At Gauthier & Maier Law Firm, P.C., our personal injury lawyer in New Mexico handles all types of personal injury claims. Call us at 505-226-3205, or fill out our contact form to schedule a Free Consultation.