An overview of the process of personal injury lawsuits

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In case of accidental injuries that you suffer due to someone else’s negligence, you have every right to claim compensation for the injuries and allied damages.

Insurers and insurance settlers settle most of the personal injury compensation claims with a small percentage going for lawsuits. Unless the compensation offered is just too bad or the compensation claimed is hefty and the case quite complex, it does not qualify for filing a lawsuit.

If you are still unsure whether or not you should file a personal injury lawsuit, seek professional legal advice from top Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorneys. Hershey Law, for example, is a great choice as their expert team of personal injury and accident attorneys are there to fight tooth and nail for you.

Even in case of out of court settlement, it would not happen very quickly, and you must have the patience and persistence to bear with it. More so, if you have to file a lawsuit that takes much longer time for completion. Remember that you must work alongside the personal injury lawyer and help him or her in every possible way to build a solid case by assisting with documentation and fact-finding. It means that you must have a good understanding of the legal process of personal injury lawsuits so that you are on the same page with your lawyer always. It helps to avoid any misunderstanding arising from your ignorance about the process.

Being too anxious about the speedy settlement can only be detrimental because legal processes take time which you will realize if you know the steps involved in filing a personal injury lawsuit.

Meet your personal injury lawyer

When you experience personal injuries in an accident or otherwise like slip and fall that happened because of the negligence of some other person you could have a case for claiming personal injury compensation. However, you must first seek medical attention for your injuries and then consult a personal injury lawyer to assess if you have a valid claim. Carry all documents related to the incident that you have including the medical records and notes to share it with the lawyer who offers the first consultation free of charge, which is the practice of the trade.

Evaluating the lawyer

It is critical to choose the right personal injury lawyer because it can make a lot of difference to the outcome of the case. Evaluate the track record of the lawyer and judge his or her credentials to get some idea about the level of expertise in handling cases similar to yours. Understand what kind of policy he or she has in handling clients and ask any other questions that should help to evaluate the lawyer’s capabilities.  Be ready to answer all questions that the lawyer asks as it is necessary for understanding your case in the proper perspective. Sometimes, it takes a long time to evaluate the case by involving experts, and if anyone promises proper compensation in the first meeting, you must take it with a pinch of salt.

Case investigation

Once you entrust the lawyer to take up your case, it begins with the process of investigations by the lawyer to understand the circumstances of the accident and the extent of injuries and damages together with its costs. Having gone through the process, your lawyer takes up your brief and starts interacting with the lawyer of the at-fault party as well as their insurance company. Throughout the lawsuit process, your lawyer should keep you informed about the important developments and negotiations so that you can monitor the progress. During this time, you must focus on your medical treatment for quick recovery.

Filing suit in court

The lawsuit that the lawyer files in court goes through three phases – the pre-trial phase, mediation, and trial. The judge appointed for the case will set a deadline for each phase of the case. Depending on the complexity of your case it can take between some months to years to arrive at a settlement.

Pre-trial phases

This phase consists of the complaint and answer phase, discovery phase and motions phase.

  • Complaint and answer phase– The document detailing your allegations forms the complaint that includes the manner in which you got injured and the damages inflicted. The complaint is then served to the defendant, the person against whom you make the complaint who gets 30 days for replying to it.
  • Discovery phase– This is the phase when both parties gather evidence, testimony, information and documents from amongst themselves and even from third parties. Discovery is usually written and oral with the former process comprising of questions and request for documents. Dispositions or oral question and answer sessions also take place when the lawyer questions experts, witnesses, and the respective parties.
  • Motions phase– This phase can take place either before or after the discovery phase when the defendant can request the court to take some action like dismissing some or your claims or quashing the case altogether. Your lawyer must respond to it in writing within 28 days.

Seeking mediation

At any time during the course of the case, both parties might approach the court for mediation which is an alternative method of resolution of the claim. A neutral mediator acts as a referee between the two parties and their lawyers. The mediator facilitates the process of mediation when both parties engage in a settlement after presenting their case. It is up to the parties whether to accept the outcome of the process.

Going to trail

A typical trial process consists of your lawyer presenting his or her side of the case to the jury or judge, and the defendant’s lawyer gets the opportunity to put on the defense. After listening to the arguments of both sides, the judge or jury decides if the defendant is liable and what should be the amount of compensation that you can receive.

Personal injury lawyers charge contingency fees amounting to a certain percentage (25% to 40%) of the expected compensation, and nothing is payable for unsuccessful cases.