Injuries are scary and not knowing what to do after an injury occurs is even scarier. To ease one’s mind, the following list is generated to further understand the different stages of a personal injury claim. After the negligence occurs, the first step is to meet with an attorney.
At this meeting, attorneys collect information such as insurance coverage (medical or auto depending on the situation), and discuss medical treatments and the progress of those treatments as well as the injury itself.
The next step is to prepare the court paperwork. The process begins with the plaintiff (the person filing the lawsuit) filing a complaint. A complaint identifies the parties and the plaintiff’s claim of wrongdoing. After a complaint is filed, the court sends out a summons which provides the time frame for the defendant(s) to respond and notifies the parties of the location of the suit. The next form is an answer.
The answer is the defendant’s response to the plaintiff’s complaint. The answer lists the defendant’s defenses and states whether the defendant admits, denies, or has insufficient knowledge regarding the plaintiff’s accusations. After an answer is filed, the defendant has the opportunity to file a counterclaim. The counterclaim is used when the defendant has a claim, from the same case, against the plaintiff.
Following court paperwork, discovery – facts of the case – is shared among the plaintiff and defendant’s counsel. Discovery includes documents, such as medical papers from hospitals and doctors or product defects; depositions, sworn statements; and photographs that is used as evidence by attorney.
Motions trail discovery. A motion is a request for certain matters. The plaintiff and defendant’s attorneys will fill motions such as a motion to dismiss or motion for summary judgement. A motion to dismiss is a request to terminate a case because of legal insufficiency. A motion for summary judgment is a request to terminate the lawsuit due to undisputed facts. Typically, cases are litigated because there is a dispute of facts; if the facts are undisputed then it is unnecessary to continue the suit.
Next, if a case is not terminated through the motions then a settlement is likely to occur. A settlement means that the plaintiff agrees to eradicate their rights of further legal action in exchange for monetary damages.
Last, if a settlement does not ensue, the suit will continue on to trial. At trial, the judge or jury examine the discovery and determine an outcome using the burden of proof preponderance of the evidence.
Even though the process seems scary, taking each stage, one at a time, helps the overwhelming feeling. It is useful knowing what to expect to help prepare yourself for your case.