Understanding The Personal Injury Claims Process
If you are ever in a position to file a personal injury lawsuit, there are a few things you need to be aware of before you submit your claim. Although personal injury cases aren’t one size fits all, various proceedings are standard in almost all personal injury claims. Knowing and preparing for these typical litigation landmarks before filing your claim will help you and your preferred attorney during the case.
A personal injury claims process may start from the moment you decide to file a claim and choosing your attorney, detailing your claim, and analyzing the outcome in court. Here are a few steps of the claims process to help you understand what you may face.
The Injury and Hiring an Attorney
For any personal injury claim to take place legitimately, there must be some kind of injury, and of course, someone needs to be accountable for the accident. For a claim to go all the way, the plaintiff must have reasonable proof of injuries and the extent of losses incurred as a result. Local small claims courts have a limit when it comes to the plaintiff’s losses, and should they exceed this limit hiring an attorney from lambergoodnow.com is the next step.
When a lawyer takes on your case, there’s an exploratory investigation they need to conduct to determine if the defendant or applicable insurance can cover your proposed settlement or court judgment. Once the attorney has completed their due diligence and is happy to take on your case, you will discuss fee arrangements and officially sign the attorney-client relationship.
A Complaint Is Filed and Served on the Defendant
When you and your attorney are happy and official, the next step is to file a personal injury claim with the relevant civil court and serve the defendant. The complaint document is probably the most important at this point, and it is vital to detail your claim in full. Once the court accepts the complaint, the plaintiff’s attorney is obligated to locate and serve the defendant within the stipulated time frame by the court.
When the lawsuit is delivered to the defendant, there needs to be verification or acknowledgment that they are aware of the claim. The service notice should detail the claim and clearly stipulate the date on which the court summons the defendant.
The Defendant Hires an Attorney
When the defendant receives and studies the claim against them, generally, the next thing is to hire their attorney to represent them. Should the defendant have insurance, they are obligated to contact and advise the insurance company about the lawsuit. If the defendant has not already appointed a lawyer to represent them, the insurance company has the authority to appoint one on their behalf. Finding a defense attorney should not be a mission, as they get paid per hour, regardless of whether they win or lose the case.
Pre-Trial and “Discovery”
The pre-trial and discovery phase of the lawsuit is when both sides share discovered evidence in the form of physical, video, and witnesses. During this time, both sides can appear in court and give the status of their case. The judge acts as an arbitrator or mediator, where he can agree or disagree with each side’s strategies.
This process of discovery can go on for months, or even a year, going back and forth with depositions and opposing. Once the trial date has been set, the case moves forward unless the defendant folds and decides to settle.
Settlement or Trial Phase of a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Remember, both parties can decide to settle the case at any point during the process, and most personal injury cases go that route. If the case is not settled towards the trial date and given that both parties have each other’s information and witnesses, a good lawyer knows when he/or she is on the losing side. This is when you will see the case being settle at the very last minute.
If neither party takes the knee when the trial date arrives, then the trial commences. A personal injury trial generally lasts for a couple of days where the judge or jury decides who’s at fault for the plaintiff’s injuries or losses. The judge or jury can determine that the plaintiff was at fault, or the defendant was indeed the course of the accident, therefore should compensate the plaintiff a certain amount.
However, the losing side may be granted the opportunity to appeal the judgment, which further extends the case for several months or years, depending on the merits of the appeal.