What is Involved in Filing a Lawsuit on an Injury Case?
Whether you were injured in an auto accident, a truck wreck or a fall, filing a lawsuit requires the same basic steps:
1. Your injury lawyer must draft a complaint and file it with the appropriate court.
2. Your injury lawyer must have the complaint legally served upon the “at fault” party, or defendant. This is done by a deputy sheriff who will personally deliver the lawsuit to the defendant.
3. Once you file and serve the injury lawsuit, the defendant has 50 days from the date he is served to file an Answer with the court.
4. Both parties then have 6 months to conduct discovery in order to prove the elements of your injury claim – i.e. the other party was negligent, this negligence caused your injuries, and proof of your damages.
5. Once “discovery” is complete, the court will schedule the injury claim for a jury trial. Getting a trial date on an injury claim can vary greatly depending on the complexity of the injury claim, but generally takes a minimum of one year from the date of filing.
What is Done During the “Discovery” Period?
During “discovery,” your injury lawyer will use several methods to investigate the auto accident, truck collision, fall or other incident causing your injury:
1. Draft and serve Interrogatories (written questions) that must be answered by the Defendant in the injury case;
2. Draft and serve RPDs (Requests to Produce Documents) that compels the Defendant in an injury case to produce documents related to the auto collision, truck wreck, fall or other accident causing the injury;
3. Take depositons of the Defendant and any witnesses to the auto collision, truck wreck, fall or other accident causing the injury. A deposition is basically an “in person” interview conducted under oath. The defense will want to take your deposition as well, to gain information about the nature and extent of your injuries, and how these injuries have affected your life. We will walk you through what to expect at your deposition. We will be in the room with you every step of the way.
What Does a Trial Look Like in an Injury Case?
If the case does not settle after the parties conduct discover (see above), the court will set a date for the trial of your injury case. An injury trial can be broken down into these phases:
1. Jury Selection;
2. Opening Statements;
3. Plaintiff’s Presentation of Evidence (since Plaintiff carriers the burden of proof);
4. Defendant’s Presentation of Evidence (if not waived by Defendant to get last closing);
5. Closing Arguments;
6. Jury Deliberation - the jury goes back to consider and decide the injury case;
After a jury verdict, there is a chance for an appeal. Generally, however, the jury verdict ends the litigation.