A personal injury lawsuit is a difficult thing, for a variety of reasons. One of the things people struggle with the most when they file a personal injury lawsuit is the fact that they do not know how to get it started. There are certain steps that can and should be taken as part of this process, and we will go down them one by one.
Steps to take in filing a personal injury lawsuit
Following the injury you sustained, your very first step is to ensure that you have proof that the injury occurred in the first place. Photo evidence, witness testimony, and most importantly, having professional testimony to verify that your injuries even occurred. This is the most important thing to do, regardless of whether you can prove that the injury was not your fault. Once you have collected as much proof as you can and feel confident in your case, you need to determine whether the damages you incurred are big enough to work with an attorney.
Conventional wisdom suggests that if your damages are relatively small, you can usually get away with dealing with them in small claims court while representing yourself. Basically, it is most likely not going to be worth spending that extra money to get a payout. The small claims court limit tends to gravitate between $5000 to $10000, though this amount is going to depend on which state the personal injury lawsuit is being filed in. If it goes beyond that number, your best course of action is to consult with an attorney who specializes in these kinds of cases, such as those at Feroleto Law Firm. An attorney is not guaranteed to take on your case, as they may not think the evidence is strong enough. However, if they feel that there is cause to look deeper into this case, they will then conduct an investigation to ascertain whether the case should go forward.
At this point, the attorney may either agree to take on your case or decline if the evidence is lacking. However, there are other reasons why an attorney may turn down a personal injury lawsuit, even if the evidence is strong. For example, it may be beyond the statute of limitations, meaning that (unless there are exceptions to the statute in your state) there is simply nothing to be done. Another reason may be because the attorney does not want to take on this specific kind of case. In this case, you could ask them if they can point you to an attorney who would be a better fit for you. They may also feel that the case is too far outside the scope of their resources, which would means they would not be a good fit for that case anyway. There are other reasons that may cause an attorney to not work with you. If you and the attorney do not see eye to eye, you can still look at other attorneys to represent you if you disagree with this decision.
If the attorney agrees to take on your case, the attorney will file a complaint with the court, and the attorney must then serve the defendant with the complaint. They have about a month to do this. This process has to be done physically, and they must be able to verify that the defendant received it. This is done to ensure that the defendant cannot claim that they were not informed of the claim made against them.
At this point, the defendant should have approximately one month to find an attorney themselves (or choose to represent themselves if they so choose). This will likely be an easier task than finding an attorney for yourself; so long as they have the assets and the right insurance policy, anyway. The defendant must inform their insurance company that they have been served; if they do this, the insurance company will appoint a lawyer if one has not already been appointed. However, with or without an attorney, a person accused in a personal injury case is most likely going to settle. It is simply not worth the cost to go to trial.
Next, you go through the pre-trial process, where evidence will be provided by each side to establish their cases. In addition to this, both sides must inform the judge of how the case is proceeding, whether mediation or arbitration is a possibility and to set a date for the trial, as well as scheduling other parts of the trial. This is a long process, and once concluded, the defense may either ask the case to be thrown out or may discuss settling, depending on the strength of the evidence.
Finally, we enter the trial phase, considerably shorter than pre-trial. This part involves a judge or jury determining whether the defense was liable, and how liable they were. The defense may attempt to appeal, but once the appeal process has ended (assuming it is not successful), you will then get your payout.
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