If you have been involved in some kind of accident, whether it be a car accident or slip and fall, you may decide that you want to hold the other party legally responsible for your injuries. Although there are some instances in which the opposing party will settle your claim without a lawsuit having to be filed, the opposing party may deny liability or the amount of damages which you are claiming. If this happens, you will have to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover for your damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage.
Before Filing the Lawsuit
If you decide to file a lawsuit against an at-fault party, you may either file the lawsuit by yourself, in which you will be a pro se litigant, or you may retain an attorney to handle the legal aspects of your claim. For a discussion on if you should retain an attorney, please see our previous blog post on the subject.
Regardless as to whether you retain an attorney or not, before a lawsuit is file, you or your attorney should obtain all documents relating to any damages which are being claimed as a result of the accident. The documents should include any medical records and bills relating to your case, bills pertaining to any property damage suffered as a result of someone else’s actions, a verification from your employer of lost wages should there be any, etc. These documents will be the basis of the amount of the total economic impact you suffered as a result of someone else’s negligence or intentional actions.
Also prior to the filing of the lawsuit, you or your attorney should find and interview any witnesses to the accident to have a full understanding as to what exactly occurred and who was at-fault. If liability for the accident is in question, you should consider employing expert witnesses to help determine liability.
After Filing the Lawsuit
After a lawsuit claiming personal injuries has been filed by you or on your behalf, the lawsuit will go into what is known as “discovery.” Discovery is the period of time leading up to a jury or bench trial in which the plaintiff and defense exchange interrogatories and requests for production of documents, conduct depositions, participate in mediation (potentially), etc. Also, during discovery, either party may make a motion for summary judgment, in which the judge will determine if the case can be settled based on the pleadings and any relevant evidence in possession of the parties filed with the motion, when viewed in light most favorable to the non-moving party.
If the case is not settled during discovery or any statutorily mandated mediation, the case will then proceed to trial to be adjudicated on its merits by either a judge (in a bench trial) or jury (in a jury trial).
Please understand that if you decide to file a lawsuit, the aforementioned process is oftentimes a extremely lengthy. It may take two or three years, depending upon the surrounding circumstances. If you have been injured by someone else and would like to hold them legally liable, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer at Hughey Law Firm to discuss your rights.