Timeline of a Personal Injury Case According to a Personal Injury Lawyer

An injury accident can be a very disruptive event in your life, depending on its severity.  An accident can be particularly infuriating if it was caused by someone else’s misconduct. When this happens, of course, you can file a personal injury claim against the responsible party. Sometimes you can file a claim even when you cannot identify fault. The following is a breakdown of a typical personal injury claim. 

The Accident and Aftermath

Gather evidence at the scene of the accident, at least if you are not seriously injured. This means:

  • Calling the police/ambulance (so that the police can make a report and the hospital can document your injuries);
  • Photographing everything, including documents such as insurance cards and driver’s licenses;
  • Gathering the names of any eyewitnesses; and
  • Collecting any other relevant evidence.

If you are injured, medical treatment should take priority over evidence gathering. 

Medical Care

Seek medical treatment immediately after your accident. If you doubt whether you are injured, err on the side of caution. Follow your doctor’s instructions to the letter so that the insurance company cannot try to reduce your compensation on the basis that you “failed to mitigate your damages.” 

Consult With a Personal Injury Lawyer

Just about any personal injury lawyer will schedule you for a free initial case consultation. If you retain the lawyer, you won’t owe them a dime unless you win your claim. Even then, your legal fees will equal a pre-agreed percentage of the amount you win.

File a Claim

Your lawyer can help you identify the party responsible for paying your claim. It might be the at-fault party, for example, or it might be an insurance company. Alternatively, it might be the at-fault party’s employer or their insurance company.

Special Case: Pennsylvania’s Car Accident Compensation System

Under Pennsylvania’s unique car accident compensation system, you can choose “full tort” insurance benefits or “limited tort” insurance.

  • If you choose full tort, you can file a third-party claim against the at-fault driver’s liability insurance policy or sue the defendant directly. You can seek both economic damages and non-economic damages (such as pain and suffering).
  • If you chose limited tort, you must file a claim against your own insurance. If you paid for only the legally mandatory minimum insurance, you will only have $5,000 available for medical expenses. 

You must select full tort or limited tort before the accident, not after. For obvious reasons, full tort insurance is more expensive.

File a Lawsuit 

Although most people prefer to settle their claims out of court, there are at least three reasons why you might want to file a lawsuit:

  • The psychological effect. Filing a lawsuit shows the opposing party that you mean business with your claim. 
  • Beating the statute of limitations deadline. If the statute of limitations deadline is looming, filing a lawsuit and formally notifying the defendant of the proceedings (“service of process”) will beat the deadline no matter how long it takes you to reach trial or settlement.
  • To engage in the pretrial discovery evidence collection process. This can be a very effective tool for gathering enough evidence to win your claim.

Even if you file a lawsuit, it might be a year or more before the court schedules a trial. Meanwhile, you can continue negotiating and you can settle your claim at any time. Most lawsuits do not lead to trial.


With the agreement of the other party, you can always try alternative means, such as mediation or arbitration, to settle your dispute. However you manage to reach an agreement, you will need to sign a written settlement agreement. Have your lawyer draft the agreement or at least review it before you sign. 


Trial is a last resort for most parties. At trial you will have the opportunity to present your evidence, call witnesses, and cross-examine the other side’s witnesses. You (or your lawyer) can also make opening and closing statements.

Don’t Play Games With Your Claim – Hire an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

It would be nice if you could simply insert your personal injury claim into an ATM machine and collect cash from the dispenser. Unfortunately, however, that’s not the way things work. In real life, turning a claim into cash requires significant legal knowledge and a lot of hard work. Contact a personal injury lawyer for further details.

If you’ve been injured in a personal injury, please contact Marzzacco Niven & Associates at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today:

Harrisburg Law Office
945 East Park Drive, Suite 103 Harrisburg, PA 17111
(717) 231-1640

York Law Office
2550 Kingston Road, Suite 210A York, PA 17401
(717) 995-8998

Wyomissing Law Office
833 N. Park Road, Suite 103, Room A Wyomissing, PA 19610
(717) 388-2325

Chambersburg Law Office
79 St. Paul Drive, Suite 1 Chambersburg, PA 17201
(717) 388-2378

Carlisle Law Office
354 Alexander Springs Road Carlisle, PA 17015
(717) 995-8732

Carbondale Law Office
30 Lincoln Avenue, Suite 101 Carbondale, PA 18407
(717) 995-8810

Lancaster Law Office
2173 Embassy Drive, Ste 123, Lancaster Pa 17603
(717) 616-2954

Lebanon Law Office
937 Willow Street, Suite D Lebanon, PA 17042-1140
(717) 995-8963