A personal injury lawsuit can be an excellent way to get compensation after someone else physically or mentally harms you. However, it is not as simple as just serving the perpetrator with a lawsuit and raking in cash. You will need to be prepared to follow the legal process and prove your case effectively in court.
Before you file any personal injury lawsuit, here are a few important things you should know.
This overview of personal injury lawsuits will give you a better idea of whether or not you have a viable case
You Have to Show the Defendant Was Wrong
Before starting a lawsuit, you need to understand the basic legal requirements of suing for a personal injury. When you file your complaint with the court, you need to allege that the defendant did something wrong.
Typically, lawsuits will claim that the defendant was either negligent or malicious. If your injury occurred in a complete accident where no one could have reasonably done anything to prevent the accident from occurring, your lawsuit may be dismissed.
You Have to Prove How You Were Damaged
Just having another party who was in the wrong is not enough to file a lawsuit. In your complaint, you will need to explain that the malicious or negligent actions of the other party led to concrete harm for you. This may be in the form of lost wages, new medical conditions, or other problems that have occurred following the injury.
Your personal injury lawyer will then help you come up with a specific sum of damages that you will seek.
You Need to Do All Steps of Filing the Lawsuit in a Specific Timeframe
Being aware of the timeframe will help you file your personal injury lawsuit before it is too late. You will need to file your case within your state’s statute of limitations. Then you will have a certain amount of time before you need to serve the other party with notice of the suit.
Finally, you should expect to go to trial within about a year to 18 months of your complaint, so you will need to prepare your case fully during this time. The defendant’s insurance may also agree to settle with you before you have to go to court.
You May Need a Lawyer
Legally speaking, you can represent yourself in a personal injury lawsuit. However, this is almost never successful. Filing this type of lawsuit is about a lot more telling you how to behave in front of a judge and talking about your situation.
A lawyer will be there to help you navigate all the legal complexities in the months leading up to the trial. They can help you avoid breaking any laws and assist you in gaining the best outcome for your case. Lawyers also have experience negotiating with insurance companies.
You Should Expect a Lot of Fact Gathering
In the months leading up to the lawsuit, be prepared to spend a lot of time with your lawyer as facts are gathered. You will most likely be deposed, which is a formal interview you take in front of a court reporter.
You may also need to have medical examinations or collect reports from experts. All of this information can then be presented at the trial to plead your case.
You Should Be Prepared for Negotiations
One thing many people are surprised by when they want to file a personal injury lawsuit is the level of negotiating that occurs. Especially in cases where you are suing a company instead of a person, you can expect a lot of meetings with other lawyers to negotiate.
Some of these may take place before you even legally file the personal injury lawsuit, and the negotiations can continue up until the day the trial is set to take place.