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The Personal Injury Lawsuit Process: What You Need to Know

Fiol Law Group|Posted in Personal Injury on January 15, 2021

Unless you have a background in law or insurance, you will not be versed in the personal injury lawsuit process as an injured victim. It is normal to have questions about what to expect. Although every case is unique, most follow similar patterns in the pursuit of financial recovery. Review the legal process for your case with a Tampa personal injury attorney for more details.

Initial Consultation with a Personal Injury Lawyer

A lawyer can do more than just explain the legal process – he or she can guide you through it, taking you from step to step. Thus, the first thing to do when pursuing a personal injury claim is to arrange a consultation with a lawyer in your city. A local lawyer will understand the municipal laws you need to know for your case.

During the initial meeting, you will have the chance to ask questions and receive honest legal answers, typically at no charge, as most personal injury lawyers offer free consultations. Ask whether you have grounds for a personal injury case, how long your case may take to resolve, and what it might be worth. From there, the lawyer can decide the best course of action for you.

Personal Injury Lawsuit Process of Claim Filing

With a lawyer’s help, you can file the required court documents to serve a complaint against the at-fault party, who will thereafter be known as the defendant. You will be listed as the plaintiff – the injured party. Your complaint will describe your injuries and include your demand. This is the amount of compensation you are requesting to resolve your case, along with a detailed list of your losses. These may include hospital bills, lost income, and property damage.

The Discovery Phase

Upon filing your claim, both parties will enter into the discovery phase. This part of the legal process allows both sides of a personal injury case to swap information with each other, so everyone is on the same page. Your lawyer may contact the defense attorney to request copies of relevant documents, such as photographs and accident reports. The defendant will have the chance to do the same. The discovery phase may also involve depositions, where you will be asked questions by the defense attorney under oath. Your lawyer can help you get through a deposition while protecting your rights.

Pretrial Motions

At this point, one or both parties may file pretrial motions. These are legal requests sent to the judge presiding over the case. For example, your lawyer may file a pretrial motion to dismiss certain evidence. If a judge grants this motion, the defense will not be allowed to use the evidence at trial. During this time, your lawyer will also be preparing your case to go to trial.

Settlement Negotiations in Personal Injury Lawsuit Process

There is still a chance that your case will successfully settle before your court date. You and the defendant can choose to enter into settlement negotiations at any time before the trial. If your lawyer and the defendant’s insurance company can work out a satisfactory settlement agreement, your case will end there.

A settlement is faster and typically cheaper than going to trial. This makes it likely that an insurance company will work with you to achieve a settlement and avoid going to court, even if you have to go back and forth several times.

Personal Injury Trial

If your personal injury lawsuit does not settle, you will have to go to court against the defendant. Your attorney will present evidence in your favor, while the defense attorney presents evidence on behalf of the defendant. In the end, a jury will decide the outcome of the case. A personal injury trial has seven main parts.

  • Opening statements
  • Evidence presentation
  • Witness testimony
  • Cross-examination
  • Closing statements
  • Jury deliberation
  • The verdict

If a jury rules in your favor and believes the defendant is more likely than not responsible for your injury, you will receive a judgment award to cover your losses. If the jury does not rule in your favor, you will have the chance to appeal the decision. Work with a personal injury attorney from the beginning of your case for the best possible outcome.