Jason Wischmeyer, J.D. | Article

Hurt in An Automobile Accident – What to Expect

No Fee Until We Recover Money for Your

When you are hurt in a car or truck accident, the injuries are only part of what you have to deal with. If that accident was not your fault, you have to worry about what will happen with the damages to your vehicle. You will have to wonder how long its going to take to get better. You will not know what to do about the medical bills. Then you begin getting lien notices from insurance companies or collection notices from the doctor’s offices. The question that many clients ask when they come to our office is what is the process if I have to file a lawsuit to get my case resolved and put the accident behind them.

To give you an idea of what will likely happen in your case here is a basic outline of possible events. Not all of this will necessarily happen; however, this gives you an idea of what to expect. Please do not allow this process to scare you as I realize this seems like a very daunting, worrisome and time intensive process.

You retain Wischmeyer Law Office to represent you and help hold your hand during the case. You have made a good decision and Jason will begin contacting insurance companies, doctors and lienholders for you.

Your medical records will be requested and obtained from your treating medical professionals. We try to get these requests out, if at an appropriate stage in your treatment, within 2 weeks of your hiring our office.

A demand will be submitted when all of the medical records have been collected.
You may settle your case within 30 days or so of submitting your demand.

If no settlement is obtained, your Complaint for Damages will be filed.
An Answer to your Complaint will be filed by the Defendant’s attorney whom will be hired by the insurance company. I would anticipate this may happen 90 days or so from the date the Complaint is filed.

The Court will conduct a Pre-Trial Conference setting forth deadlines that the parties must file certain documents and other requirements for the litigation. You can expect this to occur approximately 6 months after filing the Complaint.

The parties will engage in discovery. Initially, both sides often serve Requests for Production of Documents and Interrogatories (written questions for each side to answer about the accident and your injuries). One or both parties may take a deposition which is an opportunity for the attorney to ask questions under oath with a court reporter transcribing the questions and answers for future review and use. This process can take anywhere from six months to a year to complete and often is finalized with a supplementation for any added or new information a month or so before the Trial setting.

The Court will likely require and we will want to engage in a Mediation which is a settlement process involving a third attorney which both sides, initially, are equally paying by the hour to attempt settlement by giving the other side’s perspective of the case. The goal of the mediation is to reduce your demands as low as possible and to raise the defendant’s insurance company’s offers as high as possible with the hope that at some point these dollar values overlap. This will occur at some point during the Discovery phase of the proceedings.

The Court will conduct a Final Pre-Trial Conference approximately one month before the Trial setting. The parties will file various legal motions related to conducting the trial and the Court will confirm that all requirements for proceeding to Trial have been met and that both parties are ready for trial.

The Court will conduct a jury trial where six (6) jurors and one (1) alternate is selected. The jury will listen to the evidence of the case, arguments by the attorneys, instructions from the Judge and will then deliberate on the outcome of your case. The jury will be asked to apportion fault between the parties and assess damages for your injuries and claims. The jury will issue a Verdict in your case which sets the amount of money, if any, you will receive for your case. I anticipate that the Jury Trial will be 3-4 days and you will need to plan to be with me in the Courtroom for the entire jury trial process. A Trial will be scheduled and will likely be one and a half to two years from the date we file the Complaint.

Generally, a Jury’s Verdict in a case concludes the case. In some cases, one or both sides may allege errors occurred during the pre-trial or trial proceedings where the Judge made a ruling that is believed to be incorrect. If that is the case, one or both sides may file a Notice of Appeal and proceed to Appellate Proceedings. There will be Briefs filed on the legal issues and the Court of Appeals will determine if errors occurred. If no errors occurred, the Verdict remains in place and is paid plus interest at the statutory rate of 8% per year. If errors are found to have occurred, the Court of Appeals may find the errors “harmless” leaving the Verdict in place or may find the errors require a new trial to insure a fair Verdict and we go back to the Trial stage. This is about a nine month process.

In a very rare occasion, one or both parties may believe that the Court of Appeals is incorrect in its consideration of a legal issue and may Petition for the Indiana Supreme Court to consider a case. The Indiana Supreme Court is permitted to reject such a request or may hear the case. If the Indiana Supreme Court hears a case, there will be further legal briefs filed and this Court’s Opinion, when issued, becomes the final say on the legal issues. The Indiana Supreme Court has the same options as exist for the Indiana Court of Appeals in issuing its ruling. This is about a six month process.

Again, do not allow this process to scare you. The vast overwhelming majority of cases are settled during the initial phases of the case or during the discovery phase of a case. This information is only to give you an idea of what to expect and to explain why there may be period of time that not much seems to be happening in your case. It is part of the overall process. Our office will walk with you throughout this process and make sure you are protected and taken care of as best we can. Please never hesitate to contact our office to check in, provide some information on recent medical issues or treatments or to get general reassurance in your case. At no point will I settle or resolve your case without your authority.
If, at any point, your case is resolved favorably to you resulting in a payment, this payment will be made payable to you and my office. I will obtain your endorsement on the payment and deposit these funds in my Attorney Trust Account. I will resolve any medical or property liens or bills as required from the settlement funds and prepare a Distribution Sheet showing my fee, reimbursement of my costs, payment of any medical or property liens/bills as required and issue all remaining funds to you. This process generally takes two weeks from the date we receive the settlement check and this check must clear my Attorney Trust account before any funds can be paid.

I hope this blog post is informative and helpful in giving you an idea of what to expect. Our goal is to resolve your case as early in the proceedings as is possible assuming that both sides can agree on a valuation for your case. If the case cannot be resolved by settlement, we will proceed to trial and allow a jury to determine the value of your case. I have been very successful in both settlement negotiations as well as jury trials and will look forward to working with you during this process to get the best outcome possible for your facts and circumstances.

If you have been injured and want an attorney on your side, call the office and we can get started immediately

Jason P. Wischmeyer, P.O. Box 419, Shelbyville, IN 46176

No Fee Until We Recover Money for Your