The personal injury laws of the United States exist to ensure those injured by negligence and the dangerous actions of others have a legal method of obtaining compensation for their losses. If you ever experience a personal injury, from a car accident, medical malpractice, or dog bite, you should know what the personal injury lawsuit process entails and what to expect from your case ahead.
Starting Your Personal Injury Claim
Your personal injury claim begins with you identifying the party responsible for your damages and gathering evidence to prove the extent of those damages. You’ll need to meet with a personal injury attorney to start building your case. Your attorney can help you determine whether your claim holds merit and your best options for legal recourse. If the attorney believes a lawsuit would be in your best interests, your personal injury attorney will help you draft a Complaint.
Filing Your Complaint
The Complaint in a personal injury case is a formal document outlining the details of the plaintiff’s lawsuit. The Complaint must name a defendant or defendants, explain the injury or harm that occurred as well as the plaintiff’s reasoning for why the named defendant bears liability for their damages. They must also include a full breakdown of their claimed damages and provide supporting documentation to prove the defendant’s responsibility for their damages.
Once the plaintiff has filed the Complaint with the local court, they will formally serve the Complaint to the defendant, providing them with the opportunity to provide a Response or Answer. The defendant may take many possible actions at this point. They may accept responsibility in light of overwhelming evidence or obvious guilt and consent to settlement negotiations, or they may deny liability and demand a trial. It’s also possible that they may accept partial liability or deny responsibility for certain claimed damages but not others.
If the parties involved in a personal injury lawsuit can agree to civil negotiation, they will meet in settlement discussions until they reach a mutually agreeable resolution to their legal matter. It’s in the plaintiff’s best interests to pursue settlement negotiation so they can secure compensation for their losses faster and with lower legal expenses. It’s in the defendant’s best interests to seek a speedy resolution to their claimed liabilities and put a personal injury case against them to rest as quickly as possible.
The vast majority of personal injury lawsuits in the United States are settled outside of court. If you ever experience a personal injury of any kind, your personal injury attorney will likely encourage you to take advantage of settlement negotiation to get the compensation you deserve as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, negotiations might break down, or a defendant may demand a trial to prove they are not responsible for a plaintiff’s claimed damages. If this occurs, the case moves to litigation.
Discovery and Litigation
The litigation process requires the parties involved in a personal injury lawsuit to start their court case with the Discovery process. This process entails all parties sharing their evidence, statements, documentation, and other materials they intend to use in the case. This creates the levelest playing field and ensures there are no unfair surprises during court proceedings.
Discovery is a lengthy process, typically taking weeks or even months, depending on the complexity of the claim. During this time, the parties’ respective attorneys will need to parse through all of the discovered materials to build their cases.
The litigation process continues with the parties taking depositions from key players in the case, including the plaintiff and defendant themselves as well as any named witnesses. The court proceedings typically begin with a formal review of sworn statements, during which each participant in the case testifies under oath that their recorded testimony is true, accurate, and complete to the best of their knowledge.
Damages and Compensation
Litigation ends once the jury has evaluated the evidence and testimony in play and determines liability for the damages claimed in the case. The judge will have the final say regarding the amount of compensation the plaintiff receives for their claimed damages. Some of the figures presented during the ruling fall in line with specific state laws, while others are left up to the judge’s discretion.
If you choose to settle your case, then the final total of compensation you receive largely depends on the weight of your evidence and the strength of your argument in negotiation. Whether you intend to litigate or negotiate your personal injury claim, it is essential to have a legal representative on your side to navigate complex issues and clarify uncertain details along the way. Contact the Ward Firm to schedule a consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney who can guide you through every legal phase your case may entail.