Personal injury lawsuits can be complicated and take a long time to settle. It is important to be familiar with the stages of a typical injury suit if you have been involved in an auto accident.
An experienced attorney can help you with injury litigation. This will allow you to focus on your health, and increase your chances of obtaining the maximum compensation.
This article will walk you through the main stages of a car accident lawsuit. It will also help you understand what to expect during the legal process that follows your claim.
1. Pre-Litigation: Negotiating with the Insurance Company and Building Your Case
Most injury cases won’t require you to file a lawsuit right away. Your attorney and you will examine the accident and gather evidence and documents to support your claims. This is sometimes called the pre-litigation phase or pre-suit stage. It is crucial to have a strong injury claim.
There are several steps involved, including:
Initial Evaluation with a Personal Injury Lawyer
An initial consultation will be held with an auto accident lawyer at the beginning of every case. This meeting will allow you to discuss your case and determine if you have a valid personal injuries claim.
Expect the lawyer will ask you many questions. Don’t be afraid of asking questions! You are welcome to ask detailed questions about the process, how similar cases have been handled (and how), and any other issues. This is not only for your lawyer to get acquainted with you and your case but also to help you determine if the lawyer is a good match for your needs.
Documentation and calculation of damages
Your attorney will ask for your medical records so they can assess the extent of your injuries. You may also be asked by your lawyer to provide copies of any medical bills related to the crash.
Potential compensation could include both economic damages (such as future and existing medical expenses, property damage and lost wages) and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, loss in enjoyment of life and other intangible losses.
After your attorney has assessed the financial, psychological and physical effects of the crash, they can give you an estimate of your damages and the amount of compensation that you may be entitled to.
Crash and Negligence Investigation
Your attorney will collect medical records and may also examine the accident scene. He or she might also obtain copies of police reports and interview witnesses. They might also examine the vehicle involved and pull records from the mobile phones or driving of the responsible party. This data can be used to prove the negligence of the at-fault driver, resulting in your accident and injuries.
RELATED Article: Understanding Negligence In Your Personal Injury Claim
Consultation with Experts
It is important to consult with experts in order to build a strong case. Expert car accident lawyers have built networks of experts that can be consulted on specific cases. This network could include:
- Auto Accident Doctors and medical specialists
- Albuquerque Chiropractor
- Accident reconstruction experts
- Scientists and engineers
- Life care planners
Insurance Company Negotiation
In an effort to resolve your case without filing a lawsuit, your attorney will work with insurance adjusters.
These discussions will usually be with the at-fault driver’s insurer. If the driver was not insured or their policy limits are insufficient to cover your damages you might need to file a claim against your auto insurance company.
After intense negotiations, many insurance claims are settled out of court. If the insurance company refuses to settle the claim fairly, it can often lead to a lawsuit.
2. Litigation: How to File a Lawsuit, and How to Prepare for Trial
This stage is when you file a lawsuit against each of the at-fault party and the court becomes involved. While settlement negotiations can continue, you and your lawyer will need to comply with the court’s procedural rules in order to prepare for trial.
Filing a Lawsuit
You must file a lawsuit by providing a written complaint, other paperwork, paying a filing fee and serving the papers to the other party. Although you can file a suit on your own, many accident victims prefer to hire an experienced lawyer to help them. It’s easy for mistakes to lead to lost compensation, or even dismissal.
RELATED TO: What is a Lawsuit? How does it fit into my Personal Injury Claim?
Discovery is the formal process where parties to a lawsuit share documents and evidence with one another. It may seem strange to share information with “the other side”, but it is necessary to prepare for a trial. Both parties have the legal right to any information or evidence.
Your attorney will ask questions of the opposing attorneys and request documents in return. Interrogatories are written questions that you must answer from the defendant.
The discovery process is open to all parties. However, certain confidential information or conversations, such as those between accident victims and their spouses, doctors, or religious advisors, can be kept secret.
Your attorney will gather expert opinions and witness testimony during the pre-litigation stage. However, the next step in litigation is a formal presentation of these testimonies called a deposition. Depositions are statements under oath that witnesses can make to the accident (including you), the investigating officer or any experts who have consulted on your case. If necessary, a court reporter will transcribe each witness’ testimony and present it at trial.
Being anxious about being deposed in front of an opposition attorney is normal. Your attorney will prepare and be present in the room to answer any questions that may be asked. It is best to give concise, precise answers in most cases. Don’t rush to answer a question if you’re not sure. Instead of guessing, be patient and take your time.
RELATED 7 Rules to Give a Deposition in a Case of Personal Injury
Lawsuits come with a lot of risk. Juries can sometimes surprise you, no matter how prepared you are. Mediation is a common method used by injury lawyers to resolve cases outside of court.
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution method in which the parties to a lawsuit work with a neutral mediator (also known as a mediator). The mediator will help you reach a common ground and agree upon a settlement amount. Your case will go to trial if the parties are unable to reach a fair settlement.
These conversations are informal than depositions, and occur off the record.
3. Trial and Appeal: Introducing Your Case to a Jury or Judge
Many personal injury cases can be settled before they reach the trial stage. Sometimes, however, you will need to go to court in order to receive the full amount of compensation.
Although it is not common for an injury case to make it to trial, it is possible that it will be a jury trial. This is where a group comprised of your peers listens and evaluates each side’s evidence and arguments. The jury will issue a verdict based on the law and facts. The trial may last for a few days, or even weeks. Both sides will present evidence, facts and witness testimony to both the judge and jury. The trial ends if the jury decides in your favor.
You and your attorney may have the right to appeal the decision or to use other procedural options to challenge it.
Court of Appeals
A request to have a higher court examine your case is called an appeal. An appeal cannot be filed if the court makes a serious error or applies the wrong law to your case. An appellate court can be used if you have grounds to appeal.
You can appeal to the Texas Supreme Court to reconsider your claim if you lose your first appeal. However, it might reject your request. Appeal procedures are complex and can take up to a year.
We guide our clients through complex injury claims
Most personal injury lawyers work closely with clients throughout every stage of the lawsuit process. They do everything possible to make sure that clients are well taken care of throughout and after the case.
Because of the complexity of car accident claims and the litigation process, it is advisable to consult an experienced attorney as soon possible. The statute of limitations in Texas for a lawsuit against a negligent driver following a motor vehicle accident is 2 years. It is important to start the process early because of the amount of work required in the pre-litigation stage before you can file a lawsuit.
This content is intended to be used for informational purposes only.