Personal injury lawsuits are often complicated. If you file a personal injury lawsuit without a lawyer, you will likely face an unfavorable outcome. Lawsuits require adhering to state laws, deadlines, and court procedures. It can be time-consuming and overwhelming to handle. However, you don’t have to take on the responsibility when you hire a personal injury attorney to manage all legal aspects of your lawsuit.
Understanding the various stages of a lawsuit is crucial. You should know how to prepare for the legal battle ahead and what to expect during every step.
What Are the Steps to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
You should always seek legal representation before pursuing a lawsuit. Your attorney can complete the necessary tasks on your behalf and guide you through the entire procedure.
Before filing a lawsuit, you must check the statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is the law that defines the timeframe for initiating a lawsuit against another party. If the timeframe hasn’t passed, you can proceed with your lawsuit.
Prepare and File the Complaint
The Complaint is a legal document outlining relevant information about a case. It includes these details:
- The allegations you are making against the defendant
- An explanation of the injuries you sustained in the accident
- A legal basis for holding the defendant liable
- The amount of compensation you’re seeking from the defendant for your medical treatment and other losses
Once you draft the Complaint, you must file it with the appropriate court.
Prepare and Serve the Summons
The Summons notifies the defendant of the legal action against them. It also informs the defendant of how to respond. They must respond to the Summons within a specific timeframe to proceed with the lawsuit.
You can’t hand the defendant the Summons yourself. A qualified individual can serve process. For example, you can hire a process server to track down the defendant and serve them with the Summons and Complaint.
Wait for a Filed Answer
Once the process server completes service, they should send you a physical confirmation to file with the court. The defendant will have a specific number of days to respond to the Complaint.
The timeframe depends on whether the lawsuit is in New York City or another part of the state and how service occurred, such as by hand delivery or another method. Typically, the defendant must file within ten, twenty, or thirty days from the date they receive the Complaint and Summons.
The filed answer must address every allegation in the Complaint. The defendant can also file counterclaims against you if they choose.
During discovery, each attorney can request evidence and documentation from the other. Typically, the requests filed during the discovery process are:
- Interrogatories – Interrogatories are questions you and the defendant must respond to regarding the facts of the case. You must also sign the document containing your answers in front of a notary public.
- Request for Admissions – You must admit to or deny each statement included in the Request for Admissions.
- Request for Production – A Request for Production is a request for the opposing party to send evidence they find during their investigation.
- Request for deposition – Either lawyer can question the other’s client regarding the case. You must answer these questions under oath.
Attend a Mediation
Mediation is an opportunity for opposing sides to meet with a mediator and try to settle the case. The mediator doesn’t have the legal authority to enter a judgment. However, they can assist each party in communicating their goals for the mediation and offer solutions to resolve the matter.
If mediation is unsuccessful, trial preparations will begin. This can include actions such as:
- Preparing an opening statement
- Creating arguments against the defense attorney’s evidence
- Selecting witnesses to testify on your behalf
- Gathering evidence to present to the judge and/or jury
Attend the Trial
Your attorney and the defense lawyer will present their cases in court. The duration of a personal injury trial depends on various factors. They can last several hours or multiple days.
If it is a jury trial, the jury will deliberate and decide whether to rule in your favor. The judge will enter the final judgment and order the defendant to pay compensation to you if the jury determines the defendant is liable for your injury.
You might be able to appeal the decision if the jury rules in the defendant’s favor.
Contact Hach & Rose, LLP Today
The New York personal injury lawyers of Hach & Rose, LLP can represent you in your case while we protect your rights and fight for the justice you deserve. The at-fault party should face the consequences of their actions. Let us help you pursue the compensation you need to recover and get your life back on track.