Understanding The Various Stages Of A Personal Injury Lawsuit

Posted on: 28 October 2015

When you experience a personal injury, you are already under enough stress dealing with the pain of your injuries and the mounting medical expenses. The last thing you need is to stress over the process of a personal injury lawsuit. Fortunately, understanding the various stages of a lawsuit can help alleviate stress and anxiety associated with the process.

Meeting Your Lawyer

The first and most important step you can take after receiving an injury and being seen by a physician is to contact a personal injury lawyer. You will need to bring a copy of the report collected by law officials at the time you received your injury along with any medical documentation you have received thus far.

Your lawyer will want detailed information regarding the incident that caused your injury. Make sure you are as honest as possible. If necessary, write your thoughts down in a notepad and bring the notepad with you when you first meet the lawyer.

Based on the information you provide the lawyer, he or she will then determine your best course of action. For example, a lawyer may determine that pursuing a lawsuit all the way through trial is your best bet, or it may be determined that a settlement would be better for you. Keep in mind that approximately 95% of personal injury cases settle out of court.

Pursuing Your Lawsuit

When it comes to filing your lawsuit, the papers filed are typically known as "pleadings." Pleadings vary based on the specific context of individual cases. Your lawyer will discuss in detail with you the particulars regarding pleadings for your case.

Your lawyer will assist you in filing the first of your documents, which is the initial complaint, which is also referred to as a petition. The complaint will outline your case against the individual or party that is responsible for your injuries.

Once the complaint has been submitted and accepted by the court, a summons will be received by both you and the defendant. The summons is a notification that informs the defendant of a lawsuit that has been filed.

The defendant will answer the summons and may even submit a counterclaim. You have the right to reply to the counterclaim. If you are unsure how best to respond to the counterclaim, make sure you ask your attorney. Your response will be to either admit or deny the counterclaim against you.

The Discovery Process

The next stage of your lawsuit is known as the discovery process. The discovery process is set up to provide all of the relevant facts regarding your case. Information will be disclosed to the court regarding the incident in which you were injured.

In order to start the discovery process, a set of interrogatories will be received by both you and the defendant. Interrogatories are a set of questions that allows both you and the defendant to offer your version of the incident.

Furthermore, the discovery process will also collect information such as video or pictures taken at the time or shortly after the incident. Medical documents may also be requested during the discovery process in order to verify the injuries you received.

Handling Pretrial Motions

A pretrial motion occurs when your lawyer makes a request through the court to rule upon your case. The judge will determine whether or not the defendant can be held liable for your injuries, and the case will proceed from that point forward.

When the ruling is in your favor, you will need to determine if you want to take your case all the way through trial or if you would rather settle out of court. Just because a judge rules in your favor does not mean you will automatically win a lawsuit once it goes to trial.

Opting for Pretrial Settlements

If you and your lawyer determine that a pretrial settlement is your best option, allow your lawyer to handle conversations and dealings with the defendant's lawyer. Although you have the right to make your own decisions and meet with the lawyers yourself, it is best to let a professional attorney handle it.

Make sure you keep in touch with your attorney throughout the entire process. Your attorney will let you know the amount determined in the settlement offer. You then have the right to either accept or deny the amount specified in favor of a higher amount if you wish.

For more information, contact an experienced personal injury attorney


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