How Do I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
After an accident, initiating the legal process can be a tremendous burden for many victims, especially if they have never faced such circumstances in the past. Personal injury cases can become surprisingly complex, as they are not restricted to bodily harm, but include emotional and psychological trauma. To help with what can be a stressful process, there are several very important steps to follow in obtaining an experienced personal injury lawyer and receive the legal compensation owed to you after your injury.
- Report the Accident
The entity or individual to which you report your accident will vary based on the circumstances surrounding your case. For example, if you are injured on commercial property, you will need to contact either the property manager or owner. On the other hand, a workplace accident should be reported to your employer.
No matter who is responsible for filing your report, you must immediately complete this step after you are hurt. This is an essential part of your lawsuit, as the incident report is one of the central pieces of documentation that will be used to support your claims in court.
- Contact a Lawyer
Hiring a personal injury lawyer can make a night-and-day difference in the success of your case. It is not advised that you attempt to recover compensation on your own, as this can be a costly mistake. You may not be equipped to defend yourself against the defendant’s legal team, and are unlikely to have access to the tools that allow for the collection of video evidence, witness testimonies, and more.
A personal injury lawyer will investigate your case and recover all necessary evidence to prove the other party’s fault beyond a reasonable doubt. They will also help you develop your demand package, which will later be presented to the defendant and their team. If a settlement cannot be reached pre-trial, your lawyer will guide you in filing a lawsuit either through small claims or civil court.
- Note: Your case is likely to proceed through small claims court if the total of monetary damages is relatively low. (Most states set small claims limits somewhere between $3,000-$15,000). If the damages exceed these limits, you will need to file through civil court. Your lawyer will guide you in determining which is appropriate for your case.
- Attend Court Proceedings
If you must proceed with the lawsuit due to the defendant’s inability or unwillingness to settle according to your demand package, then your case will progress to the courts. This phase will unfold as follows:
- Discovery: You and the defendant will each have the opportunity to gather the appropriate evidence to support each of your positions.
- Mediation: This is the final opportunity to settle the case without a trial. A lawyer’s expertise is critical at this stage, as this phase can have enduring effects on the remainder of the litigation process.
- Trial: Both parties will present all evidence before a jury. At this point, you may be awarded damages based on the jury’s final decision.
In many cases, the defendant is unsatisfied with the jury’s decision and may attempt to appeal the case. With an experienced legal team, you can rest assured that you will still receive your due compensation, though the task may be challenging. When you are ready to initiate the process of filing a personal injury lawsuit, contact a personal injury lawyer to learn more about how they can assist you in this process.