What Are the Phases of a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Accidents happen every day, and most people have no idea what to do when they're involved in one. Facing an accident can be incredibly stressful. You may not know where to turn or what to do next.
Are you considering filing a personal injury lawsuit? The experienced attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, can handle every aspect of your case and stand by your side throughout the entire legal process for the compensation you deserve.
We understand that it is a difficult time for you and your family, and we will do everything we can to make the process as easy as possible. All sensitive or confidential information will be kept private through an attorney-client relationship.
The Stages of a Personal Injury Case
Many accident victims have no idea what to do after being injured. A personal injury case involves eight distinct stages. You will have numerous chances to produce evidence and settlement negotiations throughout your personal injury claim.
Medical Treatment and Documentation
A personal injury lawsuit will likely be based on injuries, so it is essential that the injured party seek medical attention. You should document your treatment and keep all of your medical expenses and receipts. Your medical records will include:
- Medical bills
- Evidence of your injuries' nature
- Proof that you received the therapy you needed
- Date when your injury occurred
- The legal basis for imposing liability on the defendant.
Your injuries might not be considered worth compensation if an opposing party sees that you did not seek immediate attention from medical experts. They can dismiss the lawsuit based on the belief that your injuries were not severe.
If you noticed that you were hurt in the hours, days, or weeks after an accident occurred, book an appointment to see a doctor immediately or go to the emergency room.
Investigation and Assessment of Your Lawsuit
After receiving the necessary medical care, the next step is an initial consultation; you contact a personal injury lawyer. The lawyer will investigate your accident and gather evidence. The evidence will help the lawyer determine whether you have a strong case against the other party.
Your lawyer will send your demand letter to resolve the case when your maximum medical improvement is reached. The document should list:
- Your name and contact info
- The insurance company's name and policy number
- The negligent party's name, address, and contact info
- A detailed summary of where the accident occurred
- The specific injuries you sustained
- An estimate of your medical expenses to date and future bills
- Your estimate for lost wages to date and in the future
- Your estimate for pain and suffering
- The date you issued the demand
- Your lawyer's name and contact info
After you have sent the demand, the insurance company will have a set period of time to respond. After that, the insurance company might make you a lowball offer or deny your claim outright.
Filing a Complaint and Serving the Defendant
The next stage of a personal injury lawsuit is filing a complaint. The complaint is a document that outlines your legal claims against the defendant. The complaint is filed by the plaintiff’s attorney in a civil court and served on the defendant.
In the complaint, you should clarify how much money you are seeking in damages. You should also list the specific injuries you have suffered. It will help the defendant understand the severity of your claim.
The defendant has a certain number of days to file an answer to your complaint. The answer is a document that denies or accepts your legal claims. The defendant will then file a response to your complaint.
The discovery phase is where the two parties exchange evidence and information. This phase can last for several months or even years.
- Requesting medical records, employment records, and other documents are expected in the written discovery phase.
- Requesting police reports, witness testimony, and other evidence is another common tactic.
- Taking depositions of witnesses, both sides will exchange documents, take depositions, and request records. As a result, the discovery process can be very time-consuming and expensive.
Depositions are sworn statements that are taken from witnesses by a court reporter. The lawyers will ask the witnesses questions about the accident. The witnesses will then answer the questions under oath.
- The deposition is a chance for the lawyer to gather information about the case from most parties involved.
The goal of the written discovery process is to find out as much information as possible about the case. It will help both sides determine whether they want to settle the case or go to trial.
The next stage of a personal injury case is the negotiation process. It is where both sides will try to reach an agreement on the number of damages paid to the plaintiff.
It is not compulsory to settle. The parties can choose to go to trial if they cannot agree on a settlement amount.
If the parties reach a settlement or an alternative dispute resolution, the plaintiff will sign a release form. The release form waives the plaintiff's right to sue the defendant in the future. The defendant will then pay the agreed-upon amount of damages to the plaintiff.
Pretrial Mediation and Arbitration
The next stage of a personal injury case is pretrial mediation and arbitration. It is where both sides will try to reach an agreement on the number of damages paid to the plaintiff.
Mediation is a voluntary process where both sides meet with a mediator. The mediator is a neutral third party who will try to help the parties reach a settlement.
The closer it gets to trial, the more willing both sides are to compromise because going to trial is complex and the outcome is not always predictable when jurors make the final decision.
If the lawsuit goes to trial, both sides will present their evidence to a jury. The jury determines whether the plaintiff should be compensated for their injuries.
The verdict will be based on the following:
- The severity of the plaintiff's injuries
- The cost of the plaintiff's medical treatment
- The amount of the plaintiff's lost wages
- The amount of the plaintiff's pain and suffering
Although a trial is a last resort, it is not always unsuccessful for the plaintiff. The jury will decide if the defendant should be held legally responsible for the accident. A well-prepared plaintiff can often win a large verdict from a jury. Cross-examination closing arguments and the instructions from the jury are just a few of the things that can make or break a personal injury case.
Post-trial Motions and Summary Judgment
If the injured party or the opposite party is not happy with the outcome of the personal injury trial, they can appeal the verdict. Then, they will take the case to a higher court, where a new jury will decide the case.
Most personal injury law firms, including our firm, have appellate attorneys specializing in taking personal injury cases to higher courts.
The personal injury case stages can be complex and overwhelming. It is important to have a qualified personal injury lawyer by your side to guide you through the process. Contact a lawyer today to learn more about how they can help you.
The Three Phases of Taking a Personal Injury Case to Trial
Data shows that more than 95% of all personal injury lawsuits are resolved before ever going to court, with a negotiated settlement for the plaintiff (injured party). Below is what happens if the case is presented to jurors at trial.
A personal injury case goes through three phases: pre-trial, trial, and post-trial. Each phase can take a different amount of time, depending on the case's complexity and how many court appearances are required.
The pre-trial phase is when both sides exchange information and evidence to prepare for trial. It takes months or even years to complete. During this time, both sides will investigate the accident and gather evidence. The attorneys will also conduct depositions, interviews with witnesses and experts.
The personal injury trial phase is when both sides present their cases to a judge or jury. Each side will present evidence and witness testimony during the trial. The jury will then deliberate and reach a verdict. This phase takes weeks or months to complete.
The post-trial phase is when either side can file an appeal. If an appeal is filed, the appellate court might require the case to be retried in the original court. This phase can take months or even years to complete.
Each phase can take a different amount of time to complete, depending on the case's complexity and how many court appearances are required. Knowing what to expect during each phase of the lawsuit can help you better prepare for your case.
If you have been injured in an accident, speaking with an experienced attorney is important. An attorney can help you understand the different phases of a personal injury lawsuit and what to expect at each stage.
Contact an Experienced Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Today
Were you injured in an accident? If so, contact the Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers today for a free evaluation. At our law firm, our team of experienced attorneys at our law firm will fight for the best possible outcome for your case.
Contact an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer at (888) 424-5757 today to discuss your legal options and get started on your case. We accept all cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning you will not pay our legal fees until we resolve your case.