Steps in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

If you are involved in some sort of accident that someone else caused, and you are injured as a result of the accident, then you have a variety of options available to you in order to get the compensation you deserve. If the responsible party has an insurance policy that covers the circumstances of your accident, then you will likely deal directly with the insurance company. If not, then you will need to work with those responsible, or their legal representation, in order to determine how to proceed. 

In many cases when an insurance company is involved, your attorney will attempt to negotiate a settlement before needing to file a lawsuit. However, if negotiations fail then the next option is to officially file a lawsuit and prepare for trial. If you are looking for an attorney who can help you through this process and fight for you during your personal injury case, you can get more information here.

The following is some general information about the steps you can expect when you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit. Keep in mind that your attorney may determine that there are different steps to take in order to help your case, so they will be the authority on deciding how best to proceed with your own circumstances.

Filing a Lawsuit

Once you and your attorney have decided that the next step is to move forward with an official lawsuit, they will need to file the complaint with the courts. This will include a detailed account of the accident, evidence about why the defendant is responsible for your injuries, and the amount that you are seeking in the lawsuit. Once the complaint is filed, the defendant will have an opportunity to respond to you to either attempt to resolve the situation or dispute the claims.

Discovery Period

Once the filing is completed, each side of the case will go into the discovery period where they will gather evidence, documents, and information relevant to their case. In addition, relevant parties on both sides will undergo depositions where they will have to answer a variety of questions about their relationship with the case as sworn testimony. 

Opportunity for Settlement, Mediation, or Dismissal

Once both sides have completed the discovery phase of their case, the next step will be to check back in with both sides and give another opportunity to settle the case, a chance to agree to mediation or arbitration, or the defendant may request that a judge dismisses the case outright. In the event of mediation and arbitration, each side will work with a mediator or arbitrator in an attempt to reach an agreement before going to trial. Otherwise, the defendant may offer to settle outright, or may still believe that they are not liable for the damages that you and your attorney are claiming.

If you are not able to reach an agreement at this point, you will need to go to a civil trial.

Trial

If your case goes to trial, each side will submit all of the evidence that they have gathered throughout the case, and make their arguments as to why their position is correct. The case will be heard by a judge or jury, at which point they will decide whether or not the defendant is liable for damages, and if so, how much they must pay the plaintiff. 

In certain instances, a judge or jury may award a victim punitive damages in addition to the compensatory damages that they initially sought, but these are in very specific situations that you will be able to discuss with your lawyer if it seems relevant to your case.

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