The first stage in a personal injury lawsuit is your initial meeting with your attorney. During this meeting, you will tell your attorney about your accident, explaining what happened and who was involved. Ideally you will bring along supporting documents, such as medical records and the accident report, to help your attorney evaluate the facts of your case and determine whether you have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.
Before filing the personal injury lawsuit, your attorney will first try to negotiate with the other side, usually the insurance company of the person who caused your injuries. The goal of the negotiations is to reach a settlement that fairly compensates you for your injuries, making it unnecessary to move forward with a trial.
If a settlement cannot be reached, then your personal injury attorney will begin the process of filing a lawsuit. The first step is to file a formal pleading with the court known as a complaint. A complaint is a written legal document that explains why the defendant is being sued and lists the damages (such as medical expenses and lost wages) that are being sought.
The defendant must then file an answer to the complaint. An answer is also a written legal document. In it, the defendant will either admit to or deny the allegations made in the complaint and assert any defenses they believe they have.
Once the initial pleadings have been filed by both parties, discovery begins. Discovery is the legal process by which both parties to a lawsuit gather information and evidence to prove their version of the facts. A common form of discovery is a deposition where the attorney for each side is given the opportunity to question the other party.
It is not uncommon for a settlement to be reached after discovery is underway. A case can be settled any time before it goes to trial. In fact, the majority of personal injury lawsuits are settled before trial.
If no settlement has been reached, the case will go to trial. During the trial, both parties will present evidence and testimony to prove their case. For the plaintiff, this means proving that the defendant was at fault as well as proving their damages.
After both parties have finished presenting their case, the judge or jury, depending on whether a jury trial was requested, must deliberate and reach a verdict. The verdict is the judge or jury’s decision as to whether or not the defendant is at fault for your injuries. If the defendant is found liable, the verdict will also include an award of damages, which is the amount of money the defendant must pay you as compensation for your injuries.
If you have been injured in an accident, contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to arrange an initial consultation. At Fears | Nachawati, we provide accident victims with a free consultation where one of our experienced Texas personal injury attorneys will review the facts of your case and help you understand your legal options.