The Process for a Personal Injury Lawsuit Explained
Although every personal injury lawsuit is unique, they all follow a similar process. Understanding more about that process can prepare you for a claim and ease your anxiety. Learn about the many steps of a personal injury lawsuit.
1. Contact an Attorney
You aren’t required by law to hire an attorney for your personal injury claim. However, it is recommended. The process can be difficult, and one wrong move could cause you to lose a chance at compensation.
As soon as possible after your accident, call a personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles. You can click here to take the steps to speak with an experienced professional. Then, you can have a consultation and learn about your options.
2. File the Claim
Whether or not you work with a lawyer, you must go through this step. The first legal process of your claim is to file the paperwork. This includes serving the other party and filing all of the necessary documentation.
There is some language on the paperwork of which you should be aware. You are the plaintiff and the other party is the defendant. In the documentation, you must include a list of damages. The damages are the expenses for injuries, missed work, and more.
Additionally, your claim should include details about the accident. It should explain why the defendant was legally liable for your accident. When the defendant receives the paperwork, they must respond to it.
Once both parties file their documents, the discovery period begins. During this time, both sides exchange evidence. Your lawyer might send questions to the opposing counsel. They may also question the defendant or request documents from them.
Depending on the circumstances of your accident, your lawyer could work with an expert to reconstruct the accident. They could also consult with medical professionals to provide reports on the severity of your injuries.
4. File Pretrial Motions
Before the case goes to court, your attorney or the opposing party’s attorney could file pretrial motions. Usually, these motions force the opposing side to give up evidence. But they also may be used to dismiss some or all of a lawsuit.
The majority of personal injury claims end in negotiations. During the negotiation process, both lawyers try to settle the matter. If a settlement is reached, the defendant agrees to pay a certain amount of money. In exchange, the plaintiff agrees that the other party is no longer liable for the accident.
Some negotiations involve a mediator. Although the lawyers are still present for these negotiations, the mediator is a neutral party. They work hard to resolve the situation in a fair manner.
6. The Trial
If your case doesn’t end during negotiations, you need to go to trial. There are usually two parts of the trial. During the first part, the court determines if the defendant is liable for the accident.
If they rule that the defendant is liable, they go on to the second part. This is when the court decides the amount of compensation you will receive. Some states, such as California, have comparative fault laws that could reduce your compensation if you are partially at-fault for the accident.
7. Making an Appeal or a Post-Trial Motion
Although a judge might rule in your favor, the battle could continue on. If the defendant makes an appeal, they might get the court to reverse the decision. However, they need to show that legal mistakes impacted the original trial.
Instead of an appeal, the opposing party could file a post-trial motion. If this type of motion is successful, the court could set aside the original judgement. Or, they could opt to reduce the total damages.