When you or your loved ones are looking for quality legal representation in your personal injury claim, you can trust the experience and professionalism that the Law Office of William D. Cook brings to every case. Every situation and injury is unique, but knowing the details helps us guide you through the process from start to finish. Although the particular details of your injury may be different from everyone else’s, all cases follow the same general sequence of pre-litigation, litigation, trial, and appeal(s). Below is a broad outline of what you can expect if you choose to pursue a personal injury claim:
- Medical Treatment: Finding a physician willing to treat individuals who have suffered a personal injury can sometimes be difficult, even if you have health insurance. This can be frustrating for clients—many of whom have already been through so much—but we are here to assist you by providing a breakdown of potential insurance benefits that you may be entitled to and assisting you in seeking this coverage.
- Investigation: During pre-litigation, we take steps to determine and investigate all involved parties, as well as their potential liability regarding the incident. Additionally, we ascertain their insurance coverage. For cases involving car accidents or motorcycle accidents, we will also do things like having the vehicles inspected and interviewing witnesses.
- Consult with Insurance Adjusters: Because your injuries are central to any case, we do our best to obtain all photographs, medical records, reports, and billing statements related to your injuries that resulted from the incident. Lastly, we aggressively negotiate with insurance adjusters to determine if we can both avoid incurring the costs and delay of pursuing a lawsuit and achieve optimal recovery in your case via settlement.
- Filing: We initiate the first stage of litigation by filing a lawsuit on your behalf. Typically, the assigned judge will establish a schedule that clearly delineates a sequence of deadlines to advance the case toward a trial date.
- Discovery: Discovery involves defense and plaintiff attorneys asking questions and requesting documents relevant to the incident and the parties involved to learn more about the evidence, claims, and defenses. In most cases, discovery includes taking depositions: formal sworn statements by relevant witnesses that are given under oath.
- Continuing Medical Treatment: Another vital aspect of litigation is the continuation and documentation of your medical treatment. This allows us to determine if your injury is healing as expected or if it will require a long-term treatment plan. Also, we confer with various experts who are able to effectively communicate to the jury any complex medical, scientific, or technical issues related to your case.
- Mediation: Mediation is a settlement discussion, which may occur either before filing a lawsuit or afterwards, and is facilitated by a neutral third party. Mediation gives both parties the opportunity to discuss their perspectives on the case in an effort to reach a reasonable settlement amicably before going to trial.
Trial and Appeal(s)
- Jury Trial: If, after mediation and other attempts at settlement, we cannot adequately resolve your case, it will be necessary to proceed with a jury trial, which could last anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks. As the plaintiff in a jury trial, the burden of proof rests with the injured party. Plaintiff’s counsel is allowed to present their position first, but they must prove their case based on a preponderance of the evidence.
- Verdict: Once both sides have presented their evidence and had the opportunity to examine and cross-examine the witnesses, the jury will be asked to decide the verdict. After they do so, the losing side has the option of challenging the verdict and requesting a new trial.
- Appeal: If the request for a new trial is denied, the losing side can file an appeal to a higher court that asks them to remedy what they feel to be are errors made by the trial court. The loser of the appeal has the option of asking the Alaska Supreme Court to overrule the decision, but the Supreme Court reserves the right to not take the case.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember about this entire process is that it is indeed a process. The average personal injury case takes approximately 2 years to resolve, but they have also been known to take less than 6 months. Every client, every incident, and every case is unique.