Every personal injury case is different, and there is no one proper way to handle the case. However, there are several common landmarks in the personal injury lawsuit case that every plaintiff and the defendant can expect.
Accident and Initial Consultation- The entire personal injury case starts off with an accident of some sort. Once there has been an accident and you feel you have the victim of another person’s careless or reckless actions, then you would meet with an attorney for the initial consultation.
During this consultation, you would discuss the details of the case with the attorney, including the nature of the accident and any injuries you may have suffered. This is also the perfect opportunity for you to speak with the attorney and learn about their legal background and their experience dealing with personal injury. This is the time to see if the lawyer will be a good match for you and your case.
If you do decide that the lawyer is a good match for you and your case, the lawyer can then advice you on the best course of action to take in your case and describe the types of compensation that could be available to you. At this initial consultation, you and the attorney would also discuss the attorney fees.
Complaint Filed- If you decide to move forward with filing a personal injury lawsuit, your attorney will file and serve a complaint to the defendant. This complaint that will be filed will state the nature of the accident and injuries, the legal basis behind the complaint and why the defendant should be held liable, and the damages that you (as the plaintiff) are demanding.
Discovery- After the complaint is filed and the defendant has been notified, the next step in the personal injury litigation is discovery. In this step, both sides, the plaintiff and the defendant, will exchange evidence.
Pre-Trial Motions/Hearing- Pre-trial motions are often used to compel the other side to provide evidence. Some motions, such as Motion for Summary Judgement asks for a decision to be made regarding the claim, without the need for a trial.
Settlement Negotiations- Once the pre-trial motions are completed, both parties typically try to reach a settlement, so the case doesn’t need to go to trial. In a settlement, the defendant would agree to pay compensation and the plaintiff agrees to release the defendant from liability. The process would start with the plaintiff making a demand for compensation, which the defendant can either accept or give a counteroffer. Both parties would go back and forth several times before both parties agree on the settlement number.
Trial- A trial only happens if the parties fail to reach a settlement. At trial, it is the duty of the jury to determine if the defendant is liable. If the defendant is found liable by the jury, then the jury determines the amount of damages they would have to pay.
Collecting Judgement or Settlement- After you reach a settlement with the other side or a court enters a judgement in your favor, your attorney will go through the process of collecting the funds owed to you.
Post-Trial Motions or Appeals- Post-trial motions occur in cases where the defendant doesn’t pay the damages in a timely manner or outright fails to follow the rulings of the jury. In these cases, the plaintiff can file a motion to collect post-judgement discovery to uncover the defendant’s sources of income. The defendant, at this point, is also able to file a motion to reduce the amount of damages to you. If either party does not agree with the result of the trial, they have the option to file a motion to an appellate court to review the decision and make a ruling. This ruling by the appellate court can either affirm the decision made by the trial court or reverse the verdict made.