What Happens When I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
After you have been injured as a result of someone else’s action, you often need to file a claim with the other person’s insurance to get compensated for the damages. In other cases, you may need to deal directly with the responsible party. You may start to quickly realize that your injuries are more extensive than you first realized, or that the impact on your life has been significant. Regardless of the specifics of your situation, watching your medical expenses add up can be an overwhelming experience as you wait for the insurance or responsible person to return with a settlement offer. What can be more overwhelming is realizing that they have offered you an amount that is much less than you were expecting. This is where personal injury lawyers like Kenneth King come in.
Your attorney will attempt direct negotiations before filing a lawsuit, in an attempt to reach an agreement for an out-of-court settlement. In many cases, this works, but there are a variety of different cases that require—or would benefit from—having a judge and jury make a determination on a fair outcome. This is when it comes time to file a lawsuit, at which point you will need to begin preparing for trial. As a general overview, you can expect these next few steps after filing your lawsuit.
A Complaint is Issued
Your attorney will present a document to the defendant which states the nature of your lawsuit, including things like the type of accident, your reasoning for why the defendant is responsible, and the amount that you are seeking for damages. The defendant will then have an opportunity to respond to the complaint in regards to whether or not they accept responsibility and agree with the amount you are requesting.
If you have already been through a period of negotiations with the defendant, then this process may ultimately feel redundant, but is an important step to provide all of the necessary information to the courts as you move towards the possibility of a trial.
The next step in the lawsuit process is the discovery phase, which entails both parties in the case gathering evidence and information relating to the case. In addition, all involved parties on both sides will go through a deposition, where each will give a testimony about their version of the facts about the case. Once all of this information is compiled, the defendant can either ask a judge to dismiss the case, both sides agree to attempts at mediation or decide to take the next step, a civil trial.
If you and the other side are open to attempts at mediation with a disinterested third party, you can work together to try and find appropriate terms of your settlement. This is an especially helpful option if there is new evidence introduced during the discovery phase that changes the original circumstances at all. However, you may either be unable to reach an agreement during these mediations or may not be interested in attempting to collaborate at all. Regardless, your next step is a trial.
If each prior step changes and you find yourself preparing for trial, you and your attorney will work closely to set your expectations of how to prepare, what the trial will look like, and help with understanding the specifics of this upcoming process. At the end of your trial, the judge or jury will decide whether or not the defendant is responsible for your injury, and a second decision about how much they must pay as a result.