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If you are not familiar with the legal field, pursuing a personal injury lawsuit may seem a little overwhelming. One of the best ways to ease any concerns you may have is to familiarize yourself with a basic overview of the case process. While each lawsuit is different and will follow its own course, there is a general process that most personal injury cases will follow.
The personal injury lawsuit process begins with a case consultation. An attorney will review the potential case and make a decision on whether or not they will accept the case. Once the case is accepted, the attorney will begin to investigate the claim. This involves researching the facts of the accident, verifying the validity of the claim, and establishing the parties that will be held liable (or who will be included in the lawsuit). After researching the claim the attorney will send a letter of representation to the opposing party and will file the lawsuit with the court.
Once the lawsuit is filed, the defendant is then served a citation and has around 30 days to file their response with the court. After their response is filed, the discovery process begins. Interrogatories (or written questions) between the plaintiff and defendant are exchanged and oral depositions may take place. During this period both sides may designate experts to help evaluate the damage.
Anytime during the process of filing the lawsuit and discovery, settlement negotiations can take place. During settlement negotiations each party will submit an amount for what they would be willing to settle the case for. Negotiations may go back and forth between the two parties a few times before a bracket (or a dollar range of the lowest and highest amount they are willing to settle for) is agreed upon. Settling a case before trial can help to cut down on case expenses, while still providing a similar amount of compensation to the injured party. If the settlement negotiations are successful, both parties will either agree on a final settlement amount or go to mediation to negotiate their bracket. If the settlement negotiations are unsuccessful, then the lawsuit will go to trial.
The mediation process can occur in a couple of different ways. If the settlement negotiations are still unsuccessful after the case is scheduled for trial, the court will typically order a settlement conference conducted by a neutral third party. The second way mediation can occur is if both sides agree to attend mediation. During mediation, the mediator will review the case and will help both parties agree on a final settlement amount. This process can take anywhere from a half day to two full days. If the mediator is successful, both sides will sign a contract and the funds will be disbursed within 30 days. If the mediator is unable to help both sides agree on a settlement amount, the lawsuit will go to trial. Trial can take anywhere between one day to two months depending on the complexity of the case and jury deliberations. Any financial recovery awarded is typically disbursed to the injured party within 30 days of a successful mediation or jury verdict.
Each and every personal injury case is unique. While most will follow the general process outlined above, the exact progression or timeline of each case is different. Our attorneys at Powers Taylor have experience handling all types of personal injury claims. Contact us today for a free consultation.