Each and every personal injury lawsuit, which is filed in courts all around the U.S differ from one another.
Personal Injury Lawsuit Procedure
However, there are certain common scenarios which a Plaintiff (the party filing the lawsuit), as well as the Defendant (the party being sued), can expect to encounter during the procedure. In this blog post,
I will let you know about all the key litigation benchmarks and processes which can be expected from the Plaintiff, as well as the Defendant – from the start, till the successful closure of the lawsuit.
You Hire an Attorney To Represent You As The Plaintiff
You need to make sure that your personal injury case is solid. Without proper proof of your injuries, your case might not even make past the summary judgment.
If the damages from your injury in the small claims court is 5,000 or more, like most cases, I suggest you seek a personal injury lawyer.
The attorney would first hold an initial consultation, and if it seems that your claim is viable, the attorney will carry out an exploratory investigation. The investigation includes finding out whether the defending party has insurance and sufficient assets or not.
Finally, if the attorney is convinced that your case is the real deal; the lawyer will begin to prepare everything for the case, including fee agreements to officially represent you.
You always have the right not to hire a lawyer. However, the defendant might have a lawyer; this would cause even more complexity. In this case, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to hire a personal injury lawyer.
The majority of lawyers work on a contingency fee. Essentially, this means they don’t get paid until you do. That type of payment method always works in your favor.
Free Consultation scheduled, want to know what to bring with you? – Read More on Items to Bring to a Personal Injury Consultation.
A Complaint Is Filed and the Defendant is Summoned
Once the lawyer verifies the statute of limitation and the legitimacy of your case he can begin assisting you in the case or not. It usually starts with a draft which would contain all of your demands and what happened and why you are filing a lawsuit.
As soon as the complaint is filed, your attorney has about month (some jurisdictions differ) to find the defending party and serve the official complaint. Serving this claim means to deliver the notification physically.
Once the defendant has been served your lawyer can now prove that the defendant was informed about the lawsuit. The notice will also contain the dates of when he should appear in court either for a case management conference or other procedural hearings.
The Opposite Party Hires an Attorney
Once the respondent is served, he or she has almost a month to find a personal injury defense lawyer before the next court date. This may or may not be possible depending on the assets or insurance the defendant has.
Often times the insurance company covering the incident will defend the lawsuit. If the insurance applies to the case, the defending party needs to let their insurance company know as soon as possible.
Furthermore, the insurance company will pay for a personal defense attorney – if the defending party has not hired one already.
Personal injury defense lawyers usually charge an hourly rate; so if the defending party cannot afford the lawyer, an early settlement might just do the trick!
The Pre-Trial Proceedings
As the pre-trial process takes place, both you as the plaintiff and the defendant will ask each other for witness information and the evidence This stage is commonly called discovery. In the initial stages, both sides will appear in the court and inform the judge about the proceedings.
Your lawyer will cover this and there is no need for you to appear unless your lawyer instructs you to appear. In the early hearings, depending on jurisdiction, lawyers from both sides and the judge agree on a trial date. Then, both sides will schedule dispositions of their witnesses.
Deposition is just like examinations and cross-examinations except that it is not held in front of a judge or jury. It is often held at one of the lawyers’ conference room with a court report.
The process of discovery can go on and on for an extended period, while the trial dates are usually set back and forth. As the trial comes closer, both sides will revamp their motions to determine the evidence which they are going to allow at the trial, manage settlement conferences and select a jury.
Finally, the date of the trial arrives. Trials can take up to several days to resolve. If the defendant is found liable to the plaintiff, he will be forced by law to pay the compensation amount.
If there is an appeal trial can take years before the case is presented to court again. In the event the defendant is found liable to the plaintiff, if insurance applies, his insurance will be obligated to pay not the defendant him or herself.
Of course, exceptions apply.
High Probability of a Settlement
Most of the lawsuits being filed by personal injury are settled before the trial. The most common settlement occurs after the case has progressed for a while, for example – when the initial proof of the liability or the injuries you have suffered is full of loopholes.
This post is written by a guest contributor Percy Martinez an attorney practicing Personal Injury Law in the state of Florida.