There are statistics that show that 95% of personal injury claims are settled outside of court. This is mainly because there is some level of flexibility involved in an out-of-court negotiation. Both parties can negotiate, come to an agreement, and go about their ways.
But there are cases where both parties have differences. In such instances, the case goes to court. And when it does, it becomes a completely different ballgame.
It’d be wise to read up on what personal injury lawsuits entail. There are plenty of websites, like https://bagenlaw.com/, that provide valuable information on the topic.
This article discusses the different steps involved in a personal injury lawsuit.
Step 1: Hire a Lawyer
The victim will have a hard time representing themselves, making their point, and providing arguments to convince the judge and jury. The victim may not be in the best position to do all this, considering their injured state of mind.
However, a lawyer is the right person for the job. Their experience in the field of law and in the courtroom makes them a valuable ally in a personal injury case.
Step 2: File a Complaint
At this step, the lawyer will file a complaint on the victim’s behalf. The complaint is the official document that kickstarts the proceedings. It contains all the information relevant to the accident, like
- The injuries the victim sustained
- The details of the person being sued (the victim)
- The legal basis of the complaint
- The expected compensation
The lawyer will file this complaint with the appropriate civil court. After that, the lawyer will serve the complaint to the defendant. Serve here refers to delivering the complaint to the defendant through a reliable and verifiable medium. The service papers mentioning a date for court appearance are also sent along with the complaint.
Step 3: Pre-trial and Discovery
This stage involves collecting information that will be used in the trial. Both sides host sessions where they ask for evidence and witness information. They will also have to periodically appear in court to inform the judge about the case’s proceedings.
Both sides will also be involved in question-and-answer sessions (depositions) with the opposing party and all witnesses involved.
The duration of these sessions varies for each case. Some may take a few months, while others may take over a year.
Sometimes, after the discovery phase, one side may request a summary judgment from the judge. This is usually done by the side that thinks their evidence and witness statements are strong enough to not warrant a trial.
Step 4: The Trial
During trial, the case is presented before the judge and jury. The jury is a group of ordinary US citizens who’re tasked with making a verdict for the trial. There are usually 12 people in the jury, although there are instances of fewer jury members.
The judge and jury have two main responsibilities. They are:
- To find out whether the defendant is at fault for the plaintiff’s injuries
- How much should the defendant pay as compensation?
Both sides will make opening and closing statements before the jury. They will also have to cross-examine the opposing parties to convince the jury.
Once this is done, the jury will discuss the case in a separate room in the court. They will share the verdict with the judge, who will deliver it in court.
Step 5: Settlement or Appeal
If the jury makes a verdict favoring the plaintiff, the defendant will have to pay up.
However, the defendant also has the right to file an appeal. The appeal is a written request to another court to review the trial court’s decision.
The appeals process can go anywhere from several months to several years. If the lawsuit gets a similar verdict, then the defendant will have to pay the settlement demanded by the plaintiff.
The plaintiff can also file for an appeal if they don’t receive a favorable verdict.
A personal injury lawsuit is a tedious process. It takes time and a lot of effort. Getting a positive verdict in a lawsuit is next to impossible without the services of an experienced personal injury lawyer. If you or someone you know is planning to go to court, then reach out to a local lawyer to find out your options.