What Is the Process for Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Personal injury lawsuits occur for a number of reasons. Sometimes, a company’s product causes injury or wrongful death. Other times, someone’s land causes injury to someone. Workplace accidents and medical malpractice lawsuits are the most common types of personal injury cases. Regardless of your reasons for considering a lawsuit, it is important to know what to expect.
Before Filing a Lawsuit
The first thing to do if you’ve been injured is to seek medical treatment via the emergency room or by making an appointment with your family doctor. If you don’t see a doctor when you’ve been injured, your case may be thrown out in court on the basis that not seeking medical treatment exacerbated the injury.
If you have a serious injury, consult a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. He or she will consult with you about your situation to help you determine if you have a case. If you do, your lawyer will investigate your claim and review your medical records. Once you reach maximum medical improvement and he or she can determine the worth of your case, your lawyer will make a demand of the defendant’s insurance company and try to negotiate a settlement in your favor.
The Discovery Phase of the Lawsuit
If the defendant’s insurance company refuses your negotiations, then your lawyer will file your personal injury lawsuit in court. The process can be long and often takes up to two years for a case to go to trial. Remember to follow your state’s statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits.
Once filed, both parties investigate each other’s legal claims. There may be interrogations, document requests, depositions, and the bringing on of expert witnesses. This part of the process can last a few months to a year.
After both parties have built their case, which is known as the discovery period, attorneys for each side can begin mediation and negotiation. During this time, you may be able to settle without going to court if the mediation process goes well.
Taking the Lawsuit To Trial
If both parties can’t agree to terms during the negotiation process, the case will get a trial date. Depending on the complexity of the case, personal injury trials can last anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks. Keep in mind that personal injury lawsuits often take a backseat to more pressing cases. This means your trial may be pushed back. If that happens, don’t assume the worst. During the trial, both sides will present their case and any evidence they have before the judge makes a decision.
If you believe you may have a cause for a personal injury lawsuit, set up a consultation with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. He or she can help you navigate the court process and help you to raise your chances of a good outcome.