What Is the Timeline of a New Mexico Personal Injury Case?
Resolving a personal injury case can take anywhere between a few months to several years, depending upon the facts of your case. There is no straightforward timeline that a New Mexico personal injury lawyer can project without investigating your accident and engaging in the settlement negotiation process first.
However, the phases involved across the personal injury board are similar. The timing of each one varies on a case-by-case basis. Moreover, up to 97 percent of civil cases settle before ever going to trial, so it may not even apply to your specific timeline.
In this post, I describe a typical personal injury case timeline to account for the following:
- Investigate the case
- Issue a demand and negotiate a settlement
- File a personal injury lawsuit (if necessary)
- Enter the discovery phase
- Enter into mediation or arbitration
- Go to Civil trial (if necessary)
At the end, I will punctuate it with the steps you can take to get the legal help you want and deserve.
1. Investigate the Case
Investigating your case is the first step that a personal injury lawyer will take after hiring him or her. You might also be coming into my office at different points, such as before or after filing a claim. However, you should contact an attorney, like me, as soon as possible to protect your rights early on.
Either way, I must investigate it thoroughly by gathering accident reports, video, photographs, medical records, and eyewitness statements. In some cases, we may require that an investigator goes to the scene of the accident and obtain additional information in order to best assess your case. I may also look at if the other side can prove you contributed to the accident. In short, I need to know where your case legally stands.
2. Issue a Settlement Demand
Before filing a civil court petition, I send a demand letter to the insurance company. Typically, it includes my findings, references relevant statutes, necessary medical treatment, and delineates what you deserve for your losses. I might even add a draft of a proposed petition to let them know we mean business.
While all my personal injury clients have unique cases, I will demand reimbursement for your:
- Past and future medical costs
- Lost work wages and benefits
- Physical pain and suffering
- Lost future earning capacity
If I am serving a family of a wrongful death victim, I demand the items listed above as well as benefits for estate heirs, including burial or cremation costs, funeral expenses, loss of companionship, mental anguish, and more.
The insurance company might agree to the demand, deny the claim, or counter the demand. I will continue to fight for you to achieve the best result possible and successfully resolve your claim in a timely manner through continued advocacy and negotiations. In some cases, a case is unable to be settled through the adjuster and a personal injury lawsuit may be the next step. As your attorney, I will discuss your options and make sure you understand what you need to know to make a decision in your case.
3. Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If the insurer refuses to settle your claim, and the benefit outweighs the cost, now it is time to file a personal injury lawsuit in court. In New Mexico, you must file your lawsuit within three (3) years of your injury or loved one’s death per NMSA, 1978 § 41-2-2.
Lawsuits are not the first choice, but they sometimes become necessary if the insurance company refuses to pay you what your harm is worth. Sometimes, it even sends a message that you are serious about going to trial.
After filing your petition in the proper court of venue and jurisdiction, your case enters the litigation phase. Rather than negotiate directly with an insurance adjuster, their defensive counsel becomes my primary point of contact.
4. Enter the Discovery Phase
Discovery is a required part of a personal injury lawsuit. It is an opportunity to request evidence from the opposing party as well as respond to theirs. Both sides have up to thirty (30) days to respond under New Mexico’s civil procedure rules.
Another step of the discovery phase is obtaining deposition testimony. A deposition is an opportunity for both parties to interrogate the other while under oath. Taking the depositions of relevant parties, as well as expert witnesses, is common. It is also admissible as evidence at trial.
5. Enter Into Mediation or Arbitration
Once the information from the discovery phase is collected and analyzed, alternative dispute resolution is one more chance for the insurance company to see things my client’s way and settle before going to trial. In general, this opportunity is through mediation or arbitration.
Mediation is a setting for both parties and their lawyers to meet before a mediator. The meeting is confidential and will never be heard during the trial if it gets that far. Arbitration is more formal and is legally binding, meaning that the arbitrator can render a final decision.
The end-goal of either method is a successful settlement for the client.
6. Go to Civil Trial
If we cannot reach a reasonable settlement after all is said and done, your case goes to a civil trial. Civil trials can vary in length from just a few hours to several months.
At the trial, both parties present arguments and submit evidence that a jury will use to decide your case. Thereafter, a judge will issue a court order that records the official verdict.
Final Thoughts and Considerations
As you can see, there are many moving parts of a personal injury case in New Mexico. Instead of trying to fight an insurer with legal resources at their disposal, hire a New Mexico personal injury attorney, like me, to represent your case. I will protect your rights and fight back throughout the entire process.
No Upfront Attorneys’ Fees
Also worth mentioning is that my office takes cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you do not owe me anything upfront. I only get paid when you win.
FREE Consultation with a New Mexico Personal Injury Attorney
You are warmly welcomed to reach out to my office for more information. Call Grano Law Offices, P.C. now for a FREE CONSULTATION by calling 505-587-8649 now.