If you are involved in a personal injury lawsuit, then it is important for you to understand the lawsuit process regarding personal injuries. From the hiring of a lawyer to having the case appear before a jury, find out everything that is involved in a personal injury lawsuit. The majority of people have never experienced facing a lawsuit. It is due to this reason that many victims of accidents or their families are unaware as to whether they should pursue a claim or not. A lawsuit might end up in a trial before a jury. However, the truth is that most of the cases do not end up in a trial. Moreover, the process can be very stressful for many. The below mentioned steps will allow you to better understand the different phases of the lawsuit. They look at the initial consultation with a lawyer to the verdict/ solution of the case so that you can understand everything that is involved in a personal injury lawsuit.
Meeting the Attorney
Anyone who has suffered from injured due to someone’s recklessness or carelessness, their first step would need to be taken after getting the right medical treatment would be to consult with an expert personal injury attorney such as Dominick J. Robustelli to get an idea whether they have a genuine claim or not. In order for the first step to be successful, it is crucial for you to bring any supporting documents, notes, and medical records which you have taken to support your claim. The majority of personal injury attorneys offer consultations free of cost, so there is no need to meet lawyers that charge fees for a meeting. The first meeting with the attorney is extremely important as it helps you in the second step.
Evaluate the Attorney
According to the second step, you will need to evaluate the personal injury attorney. When you have a good personal injury lawyer by your side, it makes a huge difference. It could be the difference between losing and even winning the case. Therefore, it is advised to choose the attorney carefully. The attorney should be asked about the level of expertise possessed by him or her. Learn about their track record at handing similar type of cases, their experience with dealing with clients, communication policy, and other related questions that are critical to the case. The attorney would ask you various questions at the initial meeting to have a complete understanding of the case. However, you need to careful of any lawyer who makes promises regarding the amount of money that would be received during the initial meeting. Excellent attorneys require additional time for fully evaluating the overall value of the case and might require experts to be involved as well.
Hire Personal Injury Lawyer & Understand the Payment Terms
The majority of the lawyers that work on personal injury lawsuits are paid on contingent basis. This means that you do not need to pay them unless the case is actually successful. They will not be paid until you are paid. When you receive compensation, your attorney’s fee would be based on the total claim recovery. It could be anywhere between 25 percent and 40 percent, and is only paid upon completion of the case. You will need to sign a client contract after you have agreed to hire a lawyer. It will specify the accurate lawyer fee and any terms and conditions. It is important that you ask as many questions as possible regarding the fee before the contract is signed to be sure about the terms of the payment.
Investigate the Case
The lawyer will research the case to completely understand just how you had been injured in this phase and the costs, damages, and injuries. Then, the attorney would directly contact the insurance company and deal with the matter. Furthermore, he or she would also contact the lawyer who represents the party that injured you. The attorney would keep you updated with regards to all the negotiations and developments in the overall personal injury lawsuit process. The main focus has to be on receiving the right medical attention and resuming a normal routine.
Settling the Case before Filing Lawsuit
The majority of such claims like those that involve car accidents are actually solved before a lawsuit has even been filed. As the lawyer uses his or her negotiation skills with the other side’s insurance company, a monetary reward might be offered to the lawyer representing you in order to fully settle the case. Your attorney would inform you when the settlement offer has been made and would provide you with expert opinion regarding whether the offer should be accepted or not. At the end of the day, you get to decide whether the settlement should be accepted or not.
Filing of Lawsuit in Court – Pre-trial Phases
If it is difficult for a sufficient settlement to be reached, the attorney would go to the court in order to file the lawsuit. A specified time period for every phase of the lawsuit would then be determined and set by the judge.
- Complaint & Answer Phase: It is important to first understand that the complaint filed by the attorney is the main document which details all the allegations made against the party that injured you. It describes how you had been injured. Moreover, the extent of the damages would also be mentioned in the document. Normally, the lawsuit is filed where the injury took place or the county in which the party that had injured you is located. After the filing of the Complaint, it would be personally served or sent to the defendant (the party that injured you). The defendant has to respond to the Complaint within the prescribed time period which is normally 30 days. The defendant will file the Answer wherein the other side will either admit or deny the allegations made in the Complaint.
- Discovery Phase: In this phase, both parties would gather evidence, testimony, information and documents during from one another, including third parties to support their side of the story. A written discovery consists of interrogatories, also referred to as questions, and documents are requested. Depositions, known as oral discovery, also take place. During the deposition, experts, each party and witnesses would be questioned by the lawyer. It is crucial for you to be involved in the process to make sure that the attorney has the correct information.
- Motions Phase: It is possible to file a motion. The motion might request the Court to either have the case dismissed a claim or more claims, and at times the case. The lawyer representing you is required to write a response in reply to the motion in 28 days time. The hearing also helps sometimes in order for the Court to determine the case.
Mediation has become extremely popular. It consists of the parties, a neutral mediator, and the attorneys. The neutral mediator acts as an adviser to both of the parties.
Both sides will explain their respective case during the mediation and they will work together in working towards settlement negotiations with the help of the mediator. The reason why mediations are extremely popular is due to the fact that they are not binding. It means that it is not compulsory for the parties to accept the offer. The parties have the option to either reject or accept the offer. In some states, it is required for parties to undergo mediation before proceeding for a trial.
Mediation is the procedure where the mediator allows for both parties to discuss the issues amicably. The mediator is a third person who is trained to provide assistance to the parties. It could be a casual meeting between both of the parties. The mediation process could even take place when the case is pending in the court. Personal injury cases commonly make their way to mediation. It helps save time and unnecessary cost. The formal court procedure can be complex. Moreover, attendance is not compulsory, unless there is a specific statute that requires attendance.
The mediator uses his expertise, common sense, persistence, and patience to help the parties. He or she uses a wide range of techniques and has human dynamic skills. Through effective listening, the mediator is able to facilitate the mediation process and helps reach a solution. However, he or she is only the facilitator and does not have any power to pass a binding resolution. The mediator might be an attorney depending on the requirements of the jurisdiction. It can be beneficial for the mediator to possess expertise in the said area.
Going to Trial
When the case heads for trial, the lawyer representing you will present your side of the case to the jury or judge. After your side is represented, the other party that had injured you (the defendant) would share their point of view regarding the case. Once both sides have presented their argument, the jury or judge would determine whether the other party is legally liable for the harm and injuries caused. Then, the value of damages that the defendant should pay you would be determined. There are six phases of the trial. These are mentioned as below.
- Jury Selection: It is the first phase of the trial. A jury is selected by the judge and the attorneys will help ensure that the right jury is selected. It is important for all jury members to be unbiased in order to reach the right verdict.
- Opening Statements: During the trial, the attorneys of both the aggrieved and the defendant would make opening statements to provide a view of their side of the story.
- Cross-Examination & Witness Testimony: The attorneys will take witness testimony to provide the jury and judge with an accurate account of the event as it unveiled.
- Closing Arguments: Finally, the attorneys will make closing arguments to take advantage of their last opportunity to get their side of the story across.
- Jury Instruction: The jury will be provided with instructions to ensure that they follow the prescribed rules and regulations.
- Jury Deliberation & Verdict: Lastly, the jury will deliberate the case after hearing both sides of the case and reach a verdict. The verdict could either be in the aggrieved party’s or the defendants favor.
Oftentimes, it is possible for a case to not be completed even when the jury has given a decision in your or the other side’s favor. You or the defense can always file an appeal for the case and request for a higher court to consider the verdict. Even if it has not been brought, it could take a bit of time for the monetary aware to be distributed. Before you are paid, the attorney has to pay the claim to any companies first known as lien. The money would be paid out of the account. The attorney would only then make the payment and you will get to keep the money. Finally, the lawsuit is over.
When it comes to a personal injury lawsuit, the process can be complex as the process is complicated. Each of these requires your attorney to possess expert knowledge.
It is due to this reason that it is vital for the attorney to have the right experience in cases that are similar to yours. The attorney must have a record history of success. Moreover, you must have strong communication with the attorney since the lawsuit might last for months or even years. Keep in mind that you only have a single opportunity to receive compensation for your claim. You deserve to get compensated for your loss or injuries. When you hire the right attorney to be by your side, it makes a huge difference. It could either lead to a win or loss in your lawsuit. Hence, it is vital to choose an attorney wisely as it could determine the success of your lawsuit.