Any time you or a loved one has suffered an injury, or even death, as a result of an accident or the negligence of another person, you may not be emotionally or physically prepared for the rigors of a lawsuit seeking to compensate you for your injuries or the loss of your loved one.
A personal injury attorney can help you navigate the complex legalities of your case that arise due to your injuries or simply because an insurance company has denied your claim. Here is a brief overview of the different steps that make up the process of a personal injury claim.
Typically, the injured party is the one who begins the process of initiating a lawsuit by contacting an attorney for a consultation to discuss an overview of the case and the injuries sustained. During this initial consultation, the attorney may ask you to sign a form authorizing the release of your medical records. They will want to know about all your insurance coverage, if you have spoken to any insurance adjusters and what was said.
After accepting the case, the attorney will conduct a thorough investigation of the case. This process includes interviewing witnesses, gathering and safeguarding any physical evidence, obtaining photos or videos of the scene of the accident and injuries, and contacting insurance providers.
Before filing an actual lawsuit, your attorney will first contact the at-fault party and their insurance provider to determine if a fair settlement can be reached before going to court.
Based on the facts of the case, your attorney will send a demand letter to the insurer with a settlement amount. If an agreement cannot be reached, the next step is litigation.
The complaint is filed and served
Your attorney will move quickly to present the necessary documentation to the court that begins the litigation process. The first documentation submitted is called the complaint, which is a review of your case against the accused. The complaint describes the parties involved, the court’s jurisdiction, the plaintiffs’ claims, the facts surrounding the claim, and the demand for justice.
The defendant will then receive a subpoena in which they will be notified of the complaint and the deadline they have to file a response or request the dismissal of the case. Both the summons and the complaint are presented to the defendant, either in person or by mail.
Response to complaint
When the defendant responds to the complaint and summons, it is called an answer. The response responds to the complaint paragraph by paragraph in one of three ways: Admitted, denied, or does not have enough knowledge to admit or deny.
The answer may also include defenses or reasons why the defendant should not be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. Often times, defenses are the basis of a motion to dismiss.
Discovery is one of the most important aspects of any legal process. During this part of the litigation process, attorneys for both parties gather information and gather testimonies, evidence, and documents related to the case.
The federal court system began requiring the sharing of all relevant facts between the parties in a case in the late 1940s, and virtually all union states have followed the practice. The three basic forms of discovery are written discovery, document production, and statements.
The written questions, also known as interrogatories, are nothing more than your version of the facts of the case. The questions can be specific to your case or broader in nature. If they are difficult to understand, your attorney will help you decide which ones to object to.
Although not commonly used, admissions requests ask you to admit or deny certain facts in your case and have associated penalties for not responding, responding falsely, or even responding late.
Either party to the lawsuit has the right to see almost any document related, even slightly, to the case. Depending on the particular type of case, in medical malpractice, for example, the number of documents can be extensive. Some courts may even allow computer files to be used as part of document discovery.
In a deposition, a person will answer questions posed by an attorney under oath and in front of a court reporter who will make a transcript of the session.
Lawyers generally use a deposition to lock individuals in their testimony, to test the strength of the opposition’s case, and to test how a person will respond to a judge and jury.
Hiring of expert witnesses
Your attorney may also choose to hire expert witnesses, people who are recognized experts in their field, to strengthen your claims and your case. Depending on the testimony they provide, expert witnesses can be expensive. Your attorney will likely factor these expenses into your cost once damages are awarded.
A motion is a request filed by an attorney asking the court for a decision on a particular matter. A defendant in a personal injury case may decide to file a motion to dismiss shortly after the discovery phase is complete to convince the court to dismiss all or part of their case as invalid. Once a motion is made, the other party has between six and 14 days to respond.
Other types of pretrial motions include the motion for summary judgment, the motion for predetermined judgment, and dismissal of sua sponte. All three of these examples can end the progression of a lawsuit. Sometimes the court will hold a hearing to consider the motions. Once a decision is reached on any motion that has been filed, you are ready to proceed to trial.
Mediation can occur at any time during the litigation process and consists of a joint meeting between the plaintiff, the defendant, their attorneys, and a neutral party known as a mediator.
Both parties present their cases and talk about whether a settlement is possible. Mediation is not binding.
It is important to remember that in most personal injury disputes, a settlement is often reached before the need for a trial. However, there is still a small percentage that will go as far as a test. In the trial phase, a judge or jury will examine the evidence and decide whether and to what extent there is sufficient evidence to hold the defendant responsible for their injuries.
A trial consists of six parts: jury selection, opening statements, testimony and cross-examination, closing arguments, jury instruction, and jury deliberation and verdict.
If you have been injured as the result of an accident or the negligence of someone else, it is important that you contact a qualified Las Vegas personal injury attorney . An attorney can help you better understand the options available to you based on your circumstances and can guide you through the complicated process of filing a personal injury claim at trial.