Many personal injury claims are resolved before a lawsuit is filed. However, if an adequate settlement cannot be reached outside of court, your attorney will file a lawsuit in court. A judge will usually set a deadline for phases within the lawsuit process. The entire process can take anywhere from months to a number of years, depending on factors such as the intricacy of the case.
The following details the process and phases you can expect if your personal injury case is taken to court.
Prior to the trial beginning, there are phases that will need to be completed first. They include the following:
Complaint and answer phase – The Complaint is the document that details your allegations with regards to how you were injured and the extent of your damages. Usually, it's filed in the county where your injury occurred or where the party that damaged you resides.
Once filed, the Complaint is delivered to the defendant. The defendant must answer the Complaint in a set period of time. The Answer refers to the document in which the defendant admits to or denies the allegations of the Complaint.
Discovery phase – The discovery phase is the formal process of exchanging information between both parties regarding the witnesses and evidence that will be presented at trial. The main purpose of this phase is to narrow the issues and make the parties aware of the evidence that may be presented at trial.
Motions phase – A motion is a proposal written to the court requesting an asked-for order, ruling, or direction. There are a variety of different motions, and it has become standard practice to file certain kinds of motions based on the type of case. Sometimes a hearing is held so that the court can consider both sides of the arguments.
Going to Mediation
Mediation is a method for alternative dispute resolution that can be requested at any point throughout the court proceedings. If requested, both parties, their attorneys, and a neutral mediator will be present throughout every session.
If you attend mediation, both sides will present your case and engage in settlement negotiations. These will be facilitated by the mediator, with both parties as well as their attorneys receiving the opportunity to contribute. Mediations are non-binding; either party reserves the right to accept or reject the offer.
Going to Trial
A trial provides the opportunity for the plaintiff to argue his or her case so that a jury can examine the evidence, decide what really happened, and rule on whether to find the defendant liable or responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries.
A personal injury trial normally consists of six phases:
- Jury selection
- Opening statements
- Witness testimony and cross-examination
- Closing arguments
- Jury instruction
- Jury deliberation and verdict
Even if you receive a verdict in your favor, your personal injury case may not be over. Be prepared to deal with the possibility that the defense may appeal the case in search of a different verdict. If an appeal is not brought, there most likely will be a length of time before you receive your monetary compensation. Once you have received the check for all monies owed to you, you can consider your lawsuit complete.
If you have been injured in an accident and are considering filing a personal injury lawsuit in order to receive payment for the damages caused to you, it's vital that you have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side. Remember, you only have one opportunity to fight for the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, contact Justin Weinstein today at 954-845-0505.