One of the reasons people get intimidated by the idea of filing a personal injury lawsuit is they don’t understand the process. There are people who habitually file personal injury lawsuits and are perfectly comfortable with the process, then there is the majority of people who have never filed a lawsuit and have no idea what to do. It is not uncommon for a personal injury lawsuit to be a person’s first ever experience with talking to a lawyer and dealing with the courts.
You can have peace of mind knowing that your attorney will take care of most of the paperwork and filing procedures that accompany your case. But it always helps lower the stress for a first-time lawsuit filer when they have a general understanding of what happens.
Your personal injury lawsuit starts with a meeting with your attorney. You can ask around or use lawyer referral websites to determine which attorney you should go with. Most attorneys will not charge you for your case unless they win, so filing a lawsuit is normally a financially simple process.
Your attorney will want to gather all of the information you have about your incident, know who you have talked to so far, get any documents and pictures you may have, and then get your account of what happened. If you have not gone to a doctor to have any potential injuries looked over, then your attorney may send you to your doctor to make sure everything is alright and get any medical reports necessary to your case.
Filing The Court Papers
After you and your attorney have put your case together, the next step is to file your intent to sue with the courts. Your attorney will handle the mountain of paperwork that is usually involved in the process, and your job is to just sit and wait until your attorney calls you for more information. It is extremely important that you never discuss your case with anyone, and that you do not make any attempts to contact the defendant for any reason.
After the defendant has been served and they retain an attorney, your attorney will go through the discovery process. You won’t be involved in this process at all as it involves your attorney and the other party’s attorney exchanging information.
The defendant’s attorney may file a motion to dismiss the case, or file some other motion that will put an extra burden of proof on you and your attorney. If the judge grants the motion to dismiss, then your case is over. If the judge grants a motion that extends the discovery process, then the waiting continues.
A large majority of personal injury lawsuits are settled before they get to court. The decision to settle is yours, but you will want to make sure to listen to the advice of your attorney before making that decision.
Going To Court
If you are expecting exciting music and dramatic events at your trial like you have seen on television, you will be severely disappointed. Personal injury lawsuits are either settled by a judge or presented to a jury, they don’t take very long, and they are far from exciting.
Collecting The Award
If you win your case, then your attorney has to start the process of collecting your award. In just about every state, this process is a lot of work and can take a long time.
Before you can collect your award, your defendant may appeal the decision. An appeal goes before a committee of judges and does not require another trial. If the appeal is denied, then you go forward with collecting your award. If the appeal is upheld, then you may have to start over again. In both cases, the appeal decision can be appealed again to a higher court.