You were recently involved in an accident of some sort and the injuries you sustained were serious. In fact, you’ve been hurt so badly that you’ll be unable to work for a long period of time. Though you’re doing your best to recover from those injuries, your medical bills and personal expenses are adding up. Without a regular income, at the moment it has made it hard for you to support yourself and your loved ones. Ultimately, the best way to find some resolve is to file a personal injury lawsuit. Below are steps to follow and what to expect throughout this process.
Consult with an Attorney
Though you have a right to file a lawsuit against the guilty parties without legal representation, personal injury laws are very complex and lawsuits are very time-consuming. It is often best that you hire a personal injury attorney to assist you throughout this ordeal. You’d want to hire a legal expert who is located in the area the accident took place as laws can vary by state. For example, if you were hurt in New York you might look for personal injury attorneys Bronx NY to guide you.
As many attorneys work on a contingency fee and offer free or affordable consultations, you don’t have to worry about the costs just yet. You’ll want to act quickly as there are time limits on how long you have to file a suit. The clock starts ticking the moment the accident occurs and can run out as quickly as a year to six years from that time.
Gather Your Documents
The best line of defense when it comes to winning personal injury cases is evidence and supporting documents. Your hired attorney will need all of this information in order to prove you have a case. They will also be necessary to negate statements made by the other parties or substantiate claims made by your attorney. Necessary documents might include:
- Police reports
- Insurance claims
- Photos of property damage or injuries
- Witness contact info
- Other involved parties information
- Doctor’s reports
- Medical bills
- Letters from your employer
- Disability paperwork
The more information you have available, the easier it is for them to fight your case at trial. If necessary, however, your attorney can secure additional evidence like video recordings.
File a Complaint and Summons
Once your attorney has received everything and reviewed your case they will file a complaint with the court on your behalf. This complaint is essential to explain your reason for filing against the defendant. The complaint is a legal document that will also identify you, the defendant, and what legal grounds you believe you have for filing. They will also ask what you’re seeking as it pertains to compensation.
You may also be required to file a summons which is a document that lists the defendants and states what they’re being sued for. A filing fee will also be likely requested. Once this is completed, a copy of the summons will be sent to the defendant. The defendant then has the right to respond.
Next up is the discovery process in which both parties are allowed to review each other’s legal claims and defenses. They can ask questions and make requests as well as hold depositions for witnesses in the case.
After both parties have reviewed the information, it is at this point that negotiations may take place. Attorneys can try and work through the matters themselves or they can request mediation in which a mediator sits in to try and come to some resolve. If no agreement is made, the case then goes to court.
During your personal injury suit, there will be a trial date set. On the day of trial attorneys from both sides will fight for their clients showing evidence, questioning witnesses, and using the laws of the state to back them up. The judge will then review all of this information and make a determination as to who is at fault and how much should be paid to the victim for their injuries and lifestyle changes.
If you’ve been injured in an accident through no fault of your own, you deserve to be compensated for it. While you may have already filed an insurance claim this may not be enough to sustain a living or cover all of your accident-related expenses. As such, it may be necessary to hire a personal injury attorney and file a lawsuit. Though it can take a while to commence it is often the best way to get you compensated, and more importantly to reduce the stress and allow you to truly recover from your injuries.