Personal Injury 101: What Should I Expect During My Personal Injury Case?

Oct 22, 2020

The phrase “personal injury” refers to a broad area of law encompassing several different types of cases, including motor vehicle crashes, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and more. Today’s post continues our “Personal Injury 101” blog series, which aims to offer straightforward information that – in our firm’s experience – will be most helpful to injury victims considering filing a lawsuit. Specifically, this blog contains a timeline of the general steps of a personal injury case, beginning with the actual injury and typically ending with a settlement (or sometimes even a jury trial). Every step in the litigation process is important for different reasons, and having a basic understanding of each step can greatly assist personal injury plaintiffs in their road to legal recovery.

The Injury and Subsequent Medical Treatment

Every personal injury case naturally begins with some type of injury caused by the fault of another party. It is imperative for injury victims to then seek medical treatment immediately after the incident. First of all, your health is the top priority, so seeking medical attention should always be the first step after an accident. However, as a secondary reason, obtaining appropriate medical treatment for injuries is also a key component of a personal injury case. Thus, victims should seek immediate medical treatment and also continue to follow doctors’ advice regarding future appointments and treatments.

Collection of Evidence

While the time period following an accident can be understandably stressful and traumatic, the truth is that these moments can be pivotal to a victim’s chances of recovering damages in the future. Therefore, depending on the nature of the accident, injury victims should generally try to collect the following types of evidence: (1) pictures and videos of the accident scene, the victim’s injuries, and any relevant surroundings near the scene; (2) contact information for any individuals that witnessed the accident; (3) documentation of all subsequent medical treatment; and (4) copies of any official reports prepared in connection with the accident, to name just a few of the most important pieces of evidence.

Attorney Consultation and Investigation

Once you have obtained appropriate medical treatment and gathered all of the evidence that you can, the next step in the recovery process is contacting an experienced personal injury attorney in your area. The attorney will likely set up an interview in which they will try to understand all of the important details of your accident and corresponding injuries. The attorney will also ask for copies of all of your medical records related to the accident so that they can make a proper assessment of your case. At Coffman Law, Owner Brian Coffman would arrange a free consultation in which he would learn about your accident and help you understand the scope and specific nuances of your potential case.

Pre-Suit Negotiation

After your attorney sufficiently investigates the claim and your injuries, they would next contact the at-fault party and their insurance carrier. Given that the majority of personal injury matters settle before a lawsuit is even filed, this will be a key step in the recover process. Your attorney will probably begin this step by sending the at-fault party a “demand letter,” which simply outlines any injuries and explains why the victim is demanding a certain amount of money. Additionally, as a general industry standard, your attorney likely will not initiate this step until you have reached the point of maximum medical improvement (“MMI”), meaning that you have completed all medical procedures and recovered to the fullest extent possible.

Filing the Lawsuit

Though most personal injury cases are resolved outside of the courtroom, there are still tens of thousands of personal injury lawsuits filed every year in courts throughout the country. Therefore, if you do not reach an agreement with the at-fault party during pre-suit negotiations, your attorney will file a complaint (i.e., a legal document setting forth the facts and legal reasons why the plaintiff is entitled to some relief) with the appropriate court and within the appropriate amount of time as to avoid any statute of limitations issues. This step signals the beginning of the formal litigation process.


“Discovery” refers to the legal process where both parties investigate each other’s claims. They do so by requesting – through either interrogatories or requests for production (i.e., both are simply requests that the other party produce certain evidence or answer certain questions) – relevant evidence that the other party possesses. Another major aspect of discovery is the deposition, in which attorneys will interview relevant parties on the record. Discovery can be a complex and time-consuming process that may take up to a year or more for complicated cases.

Post-Suit Negotiation and Potential Mediation

Once a sufficient amount of discovery has been conducted, the attorneys for both parties will usually convene to discuss a potential settlement of the case before trial. Though some parties may be able to settle a case without external assistance, many attorneys decide to engage in settlement negotiations with the assistance of a neutral third party in a formal process called “mediation.”


If the parties cannot agree to a settlement, the case will proceed to trial. This is not a common occurrence in personal injury cases – in fact, according to estimates by the U.S. Government, only 4-5% of personal injury matters go to trial. Nonetheless, if your case does proceed to trial, you can expect the trial to last anywhere from one day to a week or more.

If any readers have suffered an injury and are considering their legal rights to recovery, do not hesitate to reach out to Coffman Law. Owner and Founding Partner Brian Coffman has handled virtually every type of personal injury matter, and through his experience defending corporate insurers for years prior to founding his own firm, Brian has also come to understand the strategies typically employed by insurance companies in these types of cases. Click HERE to contact our office for a free consultation.

About Coffman Law Offices, P.C.

Coffman Law is Chicago’s leading personal injury law firm and is committed to providing superb legal representation for people who are suffering from severe personal injuries or are dealing with the loss of a loved one due to negligence or misconduct. Coffman Law is a results-driven law firm focused on ensuring that clients receive the compassion, attention, and consideration that they need to seek adequate compensation for injuries or loss. The firm is led by Owner and Founding Partner Brian Coffman, who has dedicated his career to helping accident victims navigate the legal system and obtain compensation for their injuries. If you have been injured or lost a loved one, contact Coffman Law today for a free consultation.