When faced with kickstarting a personal injury lawsuit, it can seem a little daunting. You might be wondering what the steps are in a personal injury lawsuit, but that’s what we’re here for!
Keep reading on for a guide to the steps in the personal injury lawsuit process—everything you need to know is laid out below.
Consultation With Attorney
Your first step should be to meet with an attorney. If your damages look to be more than the limit of the small claims court, it makes sense to consult with an attorney—if they agree that you have a case, they can conduct an investigation themselves.
Answer From Defendant
Once the attorney agrees that you have a viable case, they’ll file a personal injury complaint. This is the first official document and sets out exactly what happened from the perspective of the plaintiff.
The defendant generally has time to find an attorney themselves but must respond to the complaint within a given amount of time.
After these early stages, the process of discovery kicks into action as evidence is requested and gathered by both parties. The five tools most often used to request information are as follows:
- Interrogatories — these are specific questions from one party to the other
- Requests for production — these are similar to the above, but one party requests documentation from the other rather than asks questions
- Requests for admission — one party asks the other to admit or deny a factual statement
- Depositions — these are recorded by a court reporter and involve an attorney asking questions to the other party, who will then answer the questions orally and under oath
- Physical examination — both mental and physical examinations can be authorized if the condition of a party is relevant
There are both dispositive and non-dispositive motions—the former can result in the lawsuit being terminated. Motions are used before the beginning of the trial to ask the court to take action. The four common motions are as follows:
- Motion for summary judgment
- Motion for default judgment
- Motion for change of venue
- Motion to compel
Negotiations Before Trial
Ideally, everything in a personal injury lawsuit would be resolved before the need to go to trial. There are three main ways in which this is done:
- Settlement — personal injury settlements might include various offers between both parties and takes place between the lawyers
- Mediation — in this case, a neutral third party will meet with both parties separately to discuss their cases but doesn’t have the power to make them agree on a settlement
- Arbitration — again, a neutral third party gets involved, but here both parties argue their case for the arbitrator to decide who wins
Should the case end up going to trial, the case will be examined by a judge or jury with both parties putting their arguments forward as they come to the decision as to whether the defendant is responsible for the damages.
After the verdict, the losing party may want to appeal. In this instance, both parties can submit a brief to the appellate court who will then release their opinion. This might back up the original verdict or find an error, in which case the verdict can be revisited.
Knowing What The Steps Are in a Personal Injury Lawsuit – Getting Started
Now you should be more clear on what the steps are in a personal injury lawsuit, you may decide to begin proceedings. Consult an attorney if you need to—take control of the situation.
For more tips and guides on looking after yourself, check out some of our other posts.