Getting injured in a car accident isn’t on anyone’s to do list, but sometimes accidents happen and injuries occur. If you have talked with your insurance agent and a qualified attorney, and have come to the decision that it’s advantageous to sue the other driver, there are few things you should know about the process. It isn’t always quick and easy, and things can sometimes get a little complicated. Here are five stages of a car accident injury lawsuit to help you prepare for what may lie ahead.
Often your attorney will try to settle out of court. Attempting to negotiate and settle out of court tends to make things easier and it takes less time. Your attorney will make a demand and the at-fault party will either deny, accept or counteroffer. Should the other driver deny the demand or make an unacceptable counteroffer, your attorney will likely proceed with filing a personal injury suit on your behalf.
Filing the Suit
Filing a civil action suit will come after attempts to settle out of court have failed. Before filing the claim, check on the statute of limitations. If your state gives you one year from the date of the injury to file a claim, you have exactly one year to file your complaint. Your complaint will detail your injuries and how the responsible party is at fault. It may also state what compensations you are seeking and how you plan on proving your case. Once you have filed, the defendant will have the opportunity to respond. The defendant will be able to give an answer and make any counterclaims and cross-claims. You will also be given the chance to respond to the defendant’s counterclaims.
There are lots of motions that can be filed by the defendant that can affect your case. Only a motion to dismiss will stop your case in its tracks. Moving for dismissal doesn’t mean that the defendant isn’t at fault, it may mean they are disputing the need for monetary relief. Other motions, like a motion for removal, can move your case from the state level to the federal level or show that the defendant is from a different state, and a motion for a change of judge can get your case heard by another judge.
Discovery is when both parties are able to investigate the facts. Both sides must share their findings. Attorneys will interview drivers, witnesses and any other persons related to your case in a deposition. Both sides will be present and have the chance to ask questions. This part of the process can be time-consuming.
Once your case moves past discovery and no motion for summary judgement has been made or granted, you will have a trial date set. You will either have a bench trial, where the judge decides the case, or a jury trial, where a jury decides your case. Not too many car accident injury cases actually make it to trial, because at any point the defence can offer to settle. It is up to you whether or not to accept the settlement.
If you’re looking for compensation for injuries resulting from an auto accident, it’s good to know what to expect. Sometimes things move slow and other times it can move along without a hiccup. Seeking damages due to emotional distress or pain and suffering isn’t possible with an insurance company and sometimes filing an injury lawsuit is all you can do.