A personal injury lawsuit results when someone suffers serious harm due to no fault of their own and seeks compensation from the responsible party. Automobile wrecks are among the most common types of accidents resulting in personal injury lawsuits.
Most people only file a personal injury claim once in their lifetime. Consequently, many people are unaware of how personal injury claims work or how long it takes to receive compensation for their injuries. If you have suffered a serious injury due to someone else’s negligence, such as a slip and fall accident or auto accident, you can expect your claim to go this route with an attorney’s help.
You may be advised to file a personal injury lawsuit by your lawyer when you sustain serious injuries due to no fault of your own.
Personal injury lawsuits are civil actions that involve no criminal charges connected to the accident. When you suffer serious injuries, life as you know it changes.
Expenses resulting from the negligence of others should never be paid out of pocket. To know what to expect if you pursue civil litigation in the future, you must learn the steps involved in a personal injury lawsuit.
How Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Progress?
Personal injury lawsuits can take many several forms depending on each case. There can be a complex interaction between different laws and regulations. Knowing the different stages of a personal injury lawsuit is often helpful if you have been involved in a personal injury claim. In this way, you’ll know what to expect during the trial.
Furthermore, it is important to understand that the personal injury laws of each state may vary significantly. In general, every personal injury lawsuit will involve the following stages:
- Initial Meeting with Lawyer: The injured party (the plaintiff) meets with their personal injury lawyer at this stage. The purpose is to decide whether the victim has a valid claim that will survive in court and which laws may be applicable to the facts of the situation
- Filing: If the victim wants to file a civil lawsuit in court, they can do so at the appropriate court. During this stage, many documents are exchanged between the parties, including Complaints, Answers, and Motions. A “Notice” informing the offender of the impending lawsuit is served here
- Discovery and Fact-Finding: Discovery and fact-finding are the processes by which opposing parties obtain information from one another in order to establish the facts surrounding a personal injury case. The opposing party cannot access some information because it is “privileged”
- Pre-Trial Motion: The parties have the opportunity to file preliminary motions before the trial begins. As a result of these motions, the parties must follow certain “ground rules” during the litigation. Motions made before trial can be very powerful- they can sometimes put an end to the claim before the trial has even begun
- Settlement/Negotiations: A settlement or negotiation can also be used to resolve some personal injury claims before trial. It can often save the parties valuable time and resources. In most cases, however, the parties are unable to reach an agreement, and the trial must proceed
- Trial: In a formal trial, physical evidence and oral testimony are presented to support or discredit the parties’ claims. Lawyers from both sides use the evidence to support their positions and legal theories. Opening and closing arguments are also part of this process.
- Collecting on the Court Judgment: After the arguments, the jury deliberates, and the judge will make a final judgment. This may involve a monetary damages award that the defendant must pay to the plaintiff to reimburse them for their personal injuries
- Appeal: When there is some kind of legal error or dispute in a personal injury case, either party may appeal. Legal errors usually cannot be used as a basis for an appeal – the error must be of a legal nature (for example, the wrong law was applied).
As a result, the stages of a personal injury lawsuit can be helpful when planning a trial strategy. In each stage, the parties are attempting to accomplish a specific goal. Personal injury lawsuits can also be divided into large stages, such as pre-trial, trial, and post-trial stages.
How Do Most Personal Injury Lawsuit Disputes Occur?
A dispute can (and does) arise at every stage of a personal injury case. During a formal trial, most disputes will be presented and resolved. It’s common for disputes to occur during what appear to be straightforward stages of litigation. One example is during the discovery process.
As part of discovery, each party may be required to provide certain documents, such as hospital records, damage receipts, or work stubs. Such information can sometimes be hard to obtain since one party might claim they don’t “need” to share the information with the other. There may be a need for a “motion to compel,” which is basically a court order instructing one party to turn over information to the other.
Additionally, disputes commonly arise due to difficulties in collecting a judgment. Often, a defendant may not be able to pay the damages award, especially if they are in debt or bankrupt. It may be necessary for the defendant to obtain a court injunction requiring them to sell some property in order to pay the judgment. Wage garnishment may also be necessary at times.
You may have to negotiate with the insurance company several times before reaching an agreement. Most often, your attorney will handle these negotiations. In most cases, you will be able to reach an agreement with your insurance company that will cover the majority of your financial needs following the accident.
Court costs can add substantially to your and the insurance company’s expenses, especially over minor accidents. The claims process ends when you reach an agreement: you receive the money you deserve for your injuries, and your contract releases the company from further liability, even if you discover future complications from your injury down the road.
If you cannot reach an agreement with the insurance company, you will have to file a lawsuit.
Is a Lawyer Necessary for a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Consult an attorney as soon as possible following an injury, whether you suffered broken bones, soft tissue damage, or traumatic brain injury. An attorney can give you a better idea of what to expect during the claims process, including what compensation to expect.
An attorney will provide you with an assessment of what you can expect during the claims process during your consultation. It may also include an estimate of how much compensation you are entitled to based on your medical bills, your limitations, and the insurance company responsible for making that payment.
Accidents caused by the negligence of another individual are traumatic. You should seek medical attention immediately after an accident. Even if there are no visible signs of trauma, accept medical transport to a hospital anyway.
A lawyer can be incredibly helpful at all personal injury lawsuit stages. Your lawyer can advise your situation in light of the injury laws in your state. An attorney is often necessary during negotiations and settlements, even if the claim does not proceed to trial. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you obtain the property remedy for your losses.