A Step-by-Step Look at the Personal Injury Lawsuit Process
Personal injury lawsuits can be intimidating. They are physically, mentally, and sometimes financially draining. However, you don’t have to take on that burden alone. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you navigate the personal injury lawsuit process. They are there to advocate for you. Not to mention help you make the best and most informed decisions for your case.
What can you expect in a Los Angeles personal injury lawsuit? Below is a step-by-step look at a general timeline of events, from obtaining medical treatment immediately following the incident, all the way to trial and post-trial motions. The personal injury lawsuit process can be exhausting, but with the help of an experienced lawyer, it doesn’t have to be.
Obtain Medical Treatment
This may not be an intuitive part of the personal injury lawsuit timeline for some. But, obtaining medical treatment is critical for several reasons. First of all, it is important to assess your health after any accident and begin taking the steps necessary for a full recovery. Second, obtaining immediate medical treatment may help prevent an injury from worsening. Being able to draw a clear line between an action (an accident happening) and the consequence (x, y, z injuries resulted) may save significant time and money when it comes to personal injury litigation. Finally: if you fail to obtain medical treatment promptly, an insurance adjuster may assume that your injuries were not significant enough to warrant a visit to the doctor.
Consult a Personal Injury Lawyer and Initial Research
After you have had a qualified medical professional assess your physical and mental health, consult a personal injury lawyer. An experienced personal injury (PI) attorney, like the ones at B|B Law Group, can help you obtain the documents to support your PI claim, navigate an oftentimes complex and confusing legal system, and act as a barrier between yourself and frustrating and stressful conversations with everyone from insurance claims agents to opposing counsel. A PI attorney can also investigate your claim for you and help you decide whether your case is worth filing in court.
Filing Personal Injury Court Documents
If you decide to move forward with your case, your attorney will file the requisite documents with the court and ensure that any parties associated with the case also receive a copy of the documents. One of the first, and most important, documents that is filed in a case is called a Complaint. A Complaint will list who the involved parties are, it will describe the incident that caused the damage, it will describe the damages (whether they are physical, emotional, financial, etc.), and finally, there will be some kind of demand for relief.
Discovery & Pretrial Motions
After the initial filing of court documents, each party will want to do its own diligent research and exchange evidence. The Discovery process can take the form of multiple interviews, establishing a medical record, retrieving any security or traffic footage (if relevant to the case), and more. The process of exchanging evidence is important. Largely because it allows each side to know before the trial begins what evidence might be presented. It also allows them to prepare to contest the evidence if it is unreliable.
Pretrial motions are requests made before the trial. These are requests either to the court or to the parties involved. They can be used to compel an opposing party to provide evidence if they are failing to do so. Pretrial motions can also be used to resolve a case before it goes to trial. One example is to file a Motion for Summary Judgement.
Negotiation, Mediation, and Settlement in the Personal Injury Lawsuit Process
At some point before the trial commences, all the parties involved in a PI case will try to enter a negotiation. They may even settle the case entirely to prevent the enormous cost and stress of taking a case to trial.
This is often an ongoing process that takes place at the same time as the Discovery and Pretrial Motion phases. Negotiating often requires some back-and-forth. This is when a plaintiff (the person filing the PI case) makes a demand for compensation. The defendant may reply with an acceptance, a rejection, or an offer. This can happen several times, especially as new evidence comes to light.
Depending on the state where you are located, mediation may be highly encouraged or even required. Mediation is a procedure in which the parties come together with a trained, impartial third person. The goal of that person is to help the two opposing sides find some compromise or middle ground. Ideally, a mediation will result in a settlement that leaves all parties involved satisfied.
Sometimes, a party will outright make a settlement offer. Settlement offers should be discussed with your attorney so that you can make the most informed decision. But ultimately, you will be responsible for deciding whether to accept or reject a settlement offer.
If the parties involved in a Personal Injury lawsuit are unable to reach an agreement, a case will usually go to trial. At trial, each side presents its evidence and arguments to a court, which oftentimes is comprised of a judge and jury.
At trial, the jury is responsible for determining if the defendant is at fault. Additionally they determine if the defendant is liable for the damages. If more than one defendant is at fault for the incident, the jury may need to decide how much each party is at fault. Is it an even 50/50 split? Or is one person more responsible for the resulting damages than the other?
The jury is also responsible for determining the amount of damages in a PI case. This is one reason why it is so important to have a clear record of medical bills incurred from the incident, record of time off work for doctor’s appointments (or if there was a loss of employment altogether as a result of the injuries), and other costs incurred as a result of the injuries.
Collecting the Judgement or Settlement for Your Personal Injury Claim
If the parties successfully negotiated a settlement, or if the judgement ruled in favor of the plaintiff, there will be a process of collecting and distributing the funds. Each state may have their own special rules or requirements related to this process, so it is best to check with your attorney.
Just because a court issued a judgement does not mean that the case is over. A defendant may file post-trial motions that seek to invalidate the judgement or reduce the amount of damages awarded to the plaintiff. A defendant may also pursue an appeal, whereby they ask a higher court to reverse the lower court’s decision based on a legal error.
Contact B|B Law Group for a Consult Today
If you are a California resident who recently incurred an injury due to someone else’s negligence, you deserve to know whether you are entitled to compensation. Contact the B|B Law Group to schedule a consultation.
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