Initiating a Personal Injury Lawsuit

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How Are Personal Injury Lawsuits Initiated?

Lawsuits begin with the aggrieved party, known as the plaintiff, filing a document or pleading, called a complaint with the court. A complaint is a very technical legal document laying out the relevant facts and the specific laws allegedly violated by the defendant. The complaint also explains what the plaintiff wishes the court to do, such as award damages or issue an order requiring the defendant to do something. Usually the complaint should be drafted by a lawyer.

What Happens after the Complaint is Filed?

Once the complaint is filed a defendant will have an opportunity to answer the allegations in a document called an answer. If the defendant has a claim against the plaintiff, the defendant may also file a complaint, usually called a counter-claim. At this early stage, relevant third parties may also be added to the litigation through various procedural steps.

Next, the attorneys for each side will research the facts and law of the lawsuit in a process known as discovery. Eventually, the case will be resolved, either through a trial, or by settlement if the parties can negotiate an outcome acceptable to both sides.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Initiate a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

If you believe you have a personal injury claim against someone, or if a complaint has been brought against you, contact a personal injury attorney to learn about your legal rights and the complicated legal system. Remember that there are deadlines set in the law, so waiting too long could result in you losing your ability to bring a claim or defend yourself.

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Last Modified: 10-24-2013 03:35 PM PDT

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