Main Steps That Occur in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Being injured in an accident can change your life substantially, which is why you may wish to explore steps toward obtaining compensation. Slip-and-fall accidents alone account for an average of one million emergency-room visits each year. Regardless of the extent of your injury, it’s important that you weigh all the options available to you, and that’s something a New Jersey personal injury lawyer can help you with.
The Initial Phase: Hiring an Attorney and Filing a Complaint
When a person has been injured in a slip-and-fall or an automotive accident, the first step that typically begins the lawsuit process is hiring a lawyer. Before a lawyer accepts a case, he or she will typically make sure there’s sufficient evidence that the injury has occurred. There are a variety of reasons why an attorney might decide against providing legal services to a particular plaintiff, but the primary one is that the claim can’t be proven. The amount of potential compensation might also be too low for the lawyer to consider it worthwhile to pursue the case. In this situation, the matter might qualify for small claims court. With personal injury cases, many lawyers provide their services based upon a contingency fee. This means that your attorney won’t get paid unless you win, and it also means that the law firm believes there’s a very good chance you will. Once a lawyer has been retained, a complaint will typically be filed with a local court. A personal injury complaint involves a detailing of the plaintiff’s claims and injuries. The defendant will need to be served with this complaint in a short time, which is usually something like 30 days from the date the document was filed. It must be delivered by hand so that the defendant doesn’t have the ability to say that the notice of the lawsuit wasn’t received. The defendant will quite likely hire his or her own attorney before the pretrial phase begins.
The main aspect of pretrial litigation involves the discovery process. When this occurs, both sides are required to share with the opposition information on witnesses and other relevant evidence. During this process, witnesses may be questioned and cross-examined to make note of any discrepancies in their testimony. Evidence will be deemed admissible or not. It’s possible for this process to take months or years. Occasional court appearances may be required. As a trial date approaches, the parties often engage in numerous settlement conferences. In many situations, an agreement can be reached before a jury is selected. If a settlement can’t be reached, the trial will begin, which typically lasts for a few days. If the defendant is deemed responsible for the accident, the court will then determine how much compensation must to be made. Depending on who was named as a defendant and how liability is assessed, this compensation could be paid by an individual, a corporate entity or an insurance company. Once a decision has been made, an appeals process will be allowed if the defendant would like to challenge the decision. After this process has reached its limit, the plaintiff will receive compensation.
Understanding the Settlement Process
Since most lawsuits are concluded during this phase of a lawsuit, the settlement process is considered highly important. This typically involves a substantial amount of negotiating between the parties to determine what an acceptable settlement offer might be. It’s possible that the first settlement offer by the defendant could be high enough to warrant accepting it; however, negotiations usually go back and forth until an agreement is finally made that both sides find appropriate. Given the fact that a trial can last for months or even years, many plaintiffs and defendants prefer to accept a settlement early on instead of going to court. When you’re involved in an accident that causes injuries, it’s possible that you will want to take legal recourse to obtain compensation. For a New Jersey personal injury lawyer, call the law firm of Denis Driscoll in Parsippany at (973) 585-6982 to schedule a consultation.