If you or your loved one has sustained an injury or accident due to a third party’s negligence, you might be going through a lot of stress physically and mentally. You may not be prepared for the hardships of a lawsuit that can help you compensate for your financial, medical, and emotional losses arising out of the injury.
A personal injury defense attorney can stand by your side to navigate the complexities of your case. Here’s a brief overview of the different steps that constitute the process of personal injury litigation:
1. Initial Consultation
The injured individual is generally the party that initiates the process by contacting a personal injury attorney. They begin an initial consultation with the lawyer to discuss and review your case. You will need to disclose complete information about the circumstances that led to the injury and details about insurance coverage. After acceptance of the case, the lawyer will examine and perform a thorough assessment of the case.
2. Initiate Negotiations
Before filing a lawsuit, your lawyer will contact the opposite party and their insurance provider to ascertain if they can reach a consensus on a settlement before going to court. Based on the facts, your lawyer will send out a demand letter on your behalf with a settlement amount. If they don’t agree to your demands, the next stage is filing litigation.
3. File and Serve Complaint
Your lawyer will then initiate the process by filing a complaint that provides the overview of the case with the relevant injury claims and demand for the right compensation.
The defendant will then receive a summon with the particulars and timeline to file an answer.
4. Response to Complaint
The defendant answers the complaint and summons based on whether they admit, deny, or do not have any premise as of now to admit or deny. The answer may also include probable reasons why the defendant should not be held legally liable for the injuries.
Discovery is an important stage of the process. During this stage, both sides’ lawyers gather essential information, evidence, and documents to support their arguments.
In late 1940, the federal government mandated the sharing of all relevant facts between either party involved in the case, and the state of NJ has adopted the same. The three primary forms of discovery are:
● Written Questions – Interrogatories or written questions are facts specific to your case which your lawyer will help you comprehend to admit or deny.
● Production of Documents – Computer files or documents related to the case.
● Depositions – The attorney asks questions under oath to test the case’s strength and lock in a valid testimony.
Pre-trial Motions and Hearings
A motion is a type of request that an attorney files to seek court permission to rule on a specific matter. It is typically used to compel the opposite side to provide evidence or even targeted to dismiss a case before it goes to trial. Some types of pretrial motions can be motion to dismiss, summary judgment motion, motion for default judgment and SuaSponte dismissal. After filing motions, the opposite party has between six to fourteen days to respond and move ahead to trial.
Affected parties can decide to conduct a joint meeting between the plaintiff, the defendant, their attorneys, and a neutral mediator anytime during the litigation process to arrive at a settlement.
In most personal injury cases, a successful settlement often occurs before the case goes to trial. The trial stage is composed of multiple parts, and here, a judge or jury will determine the outcome of the case.
While the above serves as a basic summary, consult an experienced personal injury lawyer to navigate through the tricky stages, and achieve a favorable outcome.