The fact that accidents are inevitable and common does not alienate us from the pain and confusion that result when they occur. The action that you take after an accident will determine whether you will recover financially and emotionally. You can choose to take an action towards protecting your legal rights or do nothing. If you decide to take a legal action, you may have some urgent questions regarding personal injury. Here are critical things you need to know about personal injury cases before you ask for an appointment with your lawyer.
Personal injury case
A personal injury case arises when someone suffers an injury or a damage due to an accident. In a personal injury case, someone is held legally responsible for the accident. Personal injury cases are often formalized in a court of law through civil proceedings spearheaded by a qualified personal injury lawyer and a jury. Other personal injury cases may be resolved through informal settlements. Informal settlements usually involve the person at fault and the victim. A settlement may be in the form of a negotiation followed by an agreement signed by both sides.
Formal personal injury case starts when the victim and his lawyer file a civil complaint against a person or a company. The complaint must indicate that the accused acted carelessly resulting in an accident that caused an injury or harm.
Statute of limitations in a personal injury case
In personal injury cases, a plaintiff has a limited timeline in which he or she can file a lawsuit. In the United Sates, the period indicated by the statute of limitations begins from the time the plaintiff discovers an injury. The statutes of limitations differ in states. However, they both give guidelines on the timeline a personal injury case should take.
Stages of a personal injury case
Hiring an attorney
The first thing you need to do when you or your loved one suffers damages or injuries after an accident is to know what will happen when you meet your lawyer. You must learn what the attorney would want to know and the details of how things will proceed if the case goes to trial.
The attorney should be in a position to explain every step, including the initial documents required in court. The first paper filed in a lawsuit usually contains a brief of the lawsuit. It identifies the parties involved, the facts and the court’s jurisdiction over the claim. Other papers that surface during the proceedings include summons, answers, cross-claims and counterclaims.
A personal injury lawyer will embark on a fact-finding mission to get more information about the case. The main aim of fact-finding is to get evidence and make some discoveries about the case. According to the federal court requirements, discovery should be in the form of written documents, produced films or depositions. However, you must bear in mind that the discovery will reveal some surprising and confusing information that can complicate the case.
Resolutions before trial
Pretrial motions are common in personal injury cases. The motion can request your lawyer to dismiss the case. It might also be a request made by your lawyer to the court asking for a ruling on the case. A motion to dismiss the case comes before both parties conduct a discovery. The applicant must prove that the case is legally invalid. For example, he or she must prove that there is no subject matter and personal jurisdiction.
A personal injury claim may resolve earlier before it reaches a civil trial. Both parties make a written agreement to settle for a particular amount of money. However, you must talk to a personal injury attorney if you receive a settlement offer. The attorney will take into account your chances of winning at trial, and the strength and weakness of your evidence before he makes a decision.
You need to find out what happens during trial. The trial gives both parties equal opportunities to argue the case. After that, the jury will give a judgment based on the existing evidence.
Compensation after judgment
When you win a personal injury case, the judge might award you money for the injury or damages. The judge will instruct the defendant to give you the money after a particular period. The defendant must comply with the court’s directives.