The Five Steps in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Navigating a personal injury lawsuit can be confusing. It’s a complicated process. If you don’t hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to represent you, the outcome of your case might be unfavorable.
Before you file your lawsuit, you must confirm you’re within the required timeframe. You can’t file suit if it’s been more than one year since the accident.
There are various legal documents you’ll need to draft and file with the court during legal proceedings. You must understand what’s involved in a lawsuit before the process starts so you can better prepare for the unexpected and handle obstacles you encounter.
You should hire a personal injury attorney before doing anything with your case. Your attorney can guide you through each step and handle everything on your behalf.
Below are the five steps involved in a personal injury lawsuit.
Prepare and File the Complaint and Summons
You must file the initial legal documents to initiate civil action against another party. The complaint is a document detailing various aspects of the case, such as:
- The legal basis for holding the defendant liable for the incident
- Allegations you’re bringing against the defendant
- Amount of money you’re seeking from the defendant for your losses
- An explanation of the nature and severity of the injury sustained in the accident
The summons is another document you must prepare and file with the court. It informs the defendant of the allegations against them and how to respond to the complaint.
You can’t hand-deliver the documents to the defendant. Only an eligible person can serve papers, such as a sheriff or process server.
Wait for the Answer
The person who serves the complaint and summons should provide you with a receipt of service you can file with the court. The defendant must file their answer within twenty days of receiving the complaint and summons.
The answer should include responses to the allegations in the complaint. The defendant can file a counterclaim against you if they want.
A counterclaim isn’t a separate legal matter. Typically, it relates to the lawsuit the plaintiff files against the defendant. For example, the defendant might file a counterclaim if they believe you are at fault for the accident.
Discovery is a process for opposing parties to gather evidence from each other. Your attorney and the defense attorney will review each other’s evidence and strategize how to strengthen their cases.
The requests often filed during discovery include:
- Request for Admissions – The request for admissions contains multiple statements about the case both parties must admit to or deny in their response.
- Interrogatories – Interrogatories are questions each person must answer under oath, confirming the answers are accurate and truthful.
- Request for Production – A request for production asks for the other party’s evidence, such as medical records, photos, and statements from witnesses.
- Notice of deposition – Either attorney can schedule a deposition to interview the other’s client or other witnesses under oath during a recorded session.
Your lawyer or opposing counsel might schedule mediation. Sometimes, the judge presiding over the case requires mediation before trial.
Either way, you and your attorney will meet with the other party and a neutral mediator to negotiate a settlement. The mediator facilitates conversations between each side and offers solutions to resolve the case.
If you settle during mediation, you and the defendant will sign an agreement, and your lawyer will file it for the judge to approve. If mediation is unsuccessful, you’ll continue with discovery and prepare for trial.
Trial Prep and Trial Proceedings
The judge will set a trial date if you don’t settle your claim during mediation. Your lawyer will continue to gather evidence and determine what to present in court. They will select witnesses to testify to the facts of the case and prepare questions to ask them on the stand.
Depending on the case’s complexity, a personal injury trial can take one or multiple days. Each attorney will begin with their opening statement. During the trial, they can question witnesses, present evidence, and work to discount the other’s claims.
After both lawyers finish their closing arguments, the jury will deliberate if it’s a jury trial. They will decide whether to rule in your or the defendant’s favor. They will also determine the financial award the defendant must pay if they rule in your favor. You can file an appeal if the jury rules in favor of the defendant.
Speak to an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Today
A personal injury lawsuit can be overwhelming. You don’t have to go through this stressful experience alone. Let Sampson Law Firm represent you during your case.
We will fight to protect your rights and hold the at-fault party liable for your injury. Call us at (502) 584-5050 for a free consultation with a Louisville personal injury lawyer if you sustained injuries in an accident someone else caused.