Litigants in personal injury accident cases must understand the different stages of the claim. Each stage is important in determining whether or not a defendant is responsible for the victim's injuries. An experienced attorney will represent each party at each stage of the case and will be available to answer any of your questions or clear up your concerns.
Before filing a lawsuit, the plaintiff's attorney should meet with the plaintiff. The purpose of the meeting and solicitation of documentation by the attorney is to determine whether the plaintiff does have cause to sue under state law regarding the resulting injuries. If it turns out that the plaintiff has a reason to sue according to state law, your attorney will file a lawsuit and the other stages of the personal injury lawsuit will follow, unless a settlement is reached in the case. The specific stages of a personal injury claim include:
- Statement of Claim : A personal injury lawsuit begins when the plaintiff files a statement of claim with the court. The statement of claim explains why the defendant is being sued and what relief or damages are sought. The defendant then has the opportunity to answer the claim with an appropriate defense, called a reply, in which the defendant admits or denies each of the allegations set forth in the plaintiff's complaint. A defendant can also file a counterclaim and seek redress from the plaintiff if he or she believes they suffered damages from the accident. For his part, the plaintiff can answer the counterclaim.
- Discovery: After the initial briefs have taken place, the parties move on to discovery, which is the formal process by which the plaintiff gathers information to prove his case and the defendant gathers information to defend himself. The discovery process may include interrogations, depositions, requests for admission, and requests for documents.
- Pretrial motions : Pretrial motions include in limine motions in which a party requests that certain evidence be excluded from the trial, motions for summary judgment in which a party requests that the court rule in their favor because there is no controversial substantive facts in the case and motions to dismiss the case because the counterpart has not alleged an action that makes it the holder of a legal remedy.
- Settlement Conferences / Talks: Settlement talks can take place at any time before the jury reaches a verdict. Once an agreement is reached, the case is closed. Many jurisdictions require a conference to reach an agreement before the trial begins.
- Trial: During trial, both parties present their evidence. The plaintiff attempts to prove that the defendant committed each of the elements that give rise to the action and that, consequently, he is entitled to compensation. The defendant presents evidence to defend himself against the plaintiff's allegations and avoid paying compensation.
- Verdict: At the end of the trial, the jury or judge, in the case of a trial without a jury, will issue a verdict to determine if the defendant is liable and, if so, how much they owe in damages.
- Appeals : Each party can appeal a decision if it considers that it was legally incorrect.
The stages of a personal injury claim follow a logical sequence that is designed to have the best chance of achieving justice at trial. If you are involved in a personal injury lawsuit, the steps outlined above outline how your case should proceed.
Talk to a Qualified Personal Injury Attorney Today
This article is intended to be helpful and informative, but legal matters can be complicated and stressful. A qualified personal injury attorney can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local personal injury attorney to discuss your unique legal situation.