Accidents are constantly happening all around us. For those unaware of what to expect from the legal process governing the way these accidents are sorted out, a personal injury lawsuit can be a very confusing and even frightening event.
Furthermore, there will naturally be many feelings of guilt and concern for the injured party and their families who will be suffering as well. Whether the victim of such an encounter or the guilty party, it is the best practice to seek representation from a reputable personal injury lawyer to guide you through, what can otherwise be a very confusing and even futile undertaking.
With this in mind, you can see how important your prudence and discernment will be to selecting the best personal injury lawyer to help you through this rather egregious debacle. By understanding how a personal injury lawsuit works, you will have a better idea of what type of lawyer you will want to have representing your case before the legal system.
Following is a simplified overview of the Personal Injury Litigation process:
Prelude: The Accident
It could have been anything; an ill-fated puddle of oil on the side of the road resulting in mild to severe whiplash or the second most common “slip-n-fall” type accident, but now someone is in pain and both sides will need to be able to present their case in the best way possible.
This is not trying to discuss it themselves, after an accident emotions can be blurred and even greater problems can arise from confrontations. The best thing to do is to call your New York personal injury lawyer who can immediately begin to move the situation in your favor.
Phase 1: The Investigation
The initial stages of the personal injury legal process will begin when the client calls their attorney and requests representation. The legal team working with the attorney will then begin to investigate the case and review all pertinent information so that they can better understand what happened and begin building a case in your favor.
This phase will include a variety of tasks, including:
-Contacting insurance companies and avoiding the run-around associated with this task.
-Gathering evidence from as many sources as possible including physical, photographic, video surveillance and more.
-Hiring experts and investigators to look into the case and proffer their opinion.
– Interviewing witnesses.
This phase can often run as long as half a year, sometimes much faster. After the investigations are completed the attorney will give his opinion to the client on the best course of action, to pursue the case or seek a settlement.
Phase 2: Settlement Negotiations
Certain lawyers may be more likely to seek settlement out of court, in these cases the lawyer will meet with opposing parties to discuss on a agreement that can be reached to avoid the hassle of legal process.
In order to do this the attorney will look over the details of the incident and calculate a settlement price they believe covers the costs of all medical bills, lost wages, as well as any other damages they believe would be included in the injury.
A “demand” will then be issued by the lawyers representing the injured party to all the responsible parties, this document sums up the full account of injuries as well as the many witness accounts, documents and all other evidence that supports their claims — in short, what it will cost to leave the courts out of this.
The negotiations can go quickly or slowly depending on factors too numerous to mention here — they will continue until both sides are happy or an impasse is reached.
Phase 3: The Litigation
When the negotiations have failed, lawyer will begin the litigation process by issuing “Complaints” and “Answers”.
The Complaint and the Answer
The lawyers seeking compensation for the victim will draw up a letter called a ‘Complaint’, that tells the victims side of the story and contains the evidence, testimony and documents that support it. This letter is submitted to the court that governs the area the accident occurred.
The court will see to it that this complaint is also delivered to the defending party.
The aptly named “Answer” is the letter of response from the defending party explaining their version of the story. There may be deadlines for handing in this response.
Phase 4: Discovery
During the Discovery phase, both parties will build their cases by requesting information in the form of testimonies, documents and even dispositions. It is very important that the lawyers are in constant communications with the people they are representing as information will be needed quickly if quality work is to be done.
Phase 5: Motions
Once the case is about ready to got to court the defendant is given a final chance to file for motions — a motion is a special document that requests the court exclude certain elements of the case against them, even throw out the case all together.
Phase 6: Mediation
At any point in the process, either party can call a mediation. This is a way of coming to a mutual agreement in a legal session presided over by mediating attorney. Offers and counter offers can be exchanged in an effort of reaching an out-of-court agreement.
Phase 7: The Trial
Many clients want to know when the case will go to trial. This might be due to the dramatic appeal of the trial throughout pop culture. Most of the magic is being performed long before the case goes to trial, and furthermore, it is very difficult to say how long it can be before case goes to trial.
In the end it comes down to the amount of time it take to complete all preliminary correspondence with third party sources and for the court load to be free enough to hear the case. In larger cities this can take significantly longer than in rural areas.
In Conclusion — The process of untying the intricate legal knot that personal injury cases can present takes ingenuity, experience but above all it takes skill and training. Personal injury suits must be taken very seriously as well, any hasty actions could land you in serious financial difficulties.
If you need more advice or even representation in a case of this magnitude contact us and see how we can get your the ruling you need.