Last Updated on April 23, 2021 by Theodore Spaulding
Personal injury is a legal term for an injury to the body, mind or emotions, as opposed to an injury to property. Personal injury lawsuits are filed against the person that caused the harm through negligence, or misconduct, and in some cases on the basis of strict liability. Different jurisdictions describe the damages in different ways, but damages typically include the injured person’s medical bills, pain and suffering, and diminished quality of life.
What is the process for a personal injury lawsuit?
An injury has occurred and an attorney is searched for.
The first thing that has to happen is you or someone you know has suffered an injury as the result of another negligent party. The next thing to do is to contact us for a free consultation. We will meet and discuss the details of how the injury occurred. If, after the initial consultation, it appears that you might have a case, we would agree to conduct an exploratory investigation and determine if the other party has applicable insurance and/or sufficient assets to cover any settlement or judgment. If the consultation and investigation lead us to conclude that the case is viable, a fee agreement will be signed and the attorney-client relationship will be official.
A complaint is filed and served
After establishing that a legitimate case exists, the plaintiff’s attorney will file a personal injury complaint. After the complaint is filed, we will have a month or more to locate the defendant and “serve” the complaint on him or her. All this means is that we physically deliver the complaint to the defendant in a way that can be verified, ensuring the defendant cannot later claim to not know about the lawsuit.
Pre-Trial and Discovery
Discovery is a pre-trial procedure where we and the other party, through the law of civil procedure, can obtain evidence from the other party or parties by means of discovery devices such as interrogatories, requests for production of documents, requests for admissions, and depositions. The purpose of discovery is to encourage parties to reach a resolution of disputes on their own, without resort to a full trial by the court. The free flow of information between the parties to a lawsuit is intended to enable each side to better assess the case, including the strengths and weaknesses of both sides, thereby promoting a more realistic view of likely outcomes that will lead to settlement.
It’s possible for a case to go to trial but most personal injury cases will end in a settlement. At any point in the process described above, the parties can settle and end the case, even before the complaint is filed.