Table of Contents
The cost of medical care in the US is at an all-time high. In 2017, the average health care cost per person was $10,739.
Most of these expenses are not accrued from annual checkups and routine procedures. Instead, the big bills roll in when our health takes an unexpected turn. Oftentimes, that unexpected turn resulted from an accident that should have been preventable.
Are you paying off medical bills because of an accident that wasn’t your fault? You may want to file a personal injury claim.
Many in this position wonder, what are the steps in a personal injury lawsuit? Read on to find out everything you need to know to get the compensation you deserve.
What Is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
A personal injury lawsuit is a claim brought on by an injured party or representative of an injured party. The lawsuit is targeted against the individual or group of individuals who are responsible for the injury. Most of the time, the compensation received comes from the defendant’s insurance.
In order to file a personal injury claim, you need to have some evidence that your injury resulted from the defendant’s negligence. Find out more about when to sue for an injury before proceeding to the next section.
What Are the Steps in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Not all personal injury claims become lawsuits. After filing a claim, you will need to hire an attorney to walk you through this process and fight for the compensation you deserve.
During these early stages, you will need to give your attorney any paperwork, video evidence, and witness statements you have regarding your case. Their job is to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant behaved negligently.
Many personal injury claims reach a settlement before going to trial. That means that the other side is cooperative and you are able to come to an agreement that you are satisfied with and they are compliant with. However, if the defendant refuses to settle, you will need to file a personal injury lawsuit in order to receive the compensation you deserve.
Filing a Lawsuit
Because you already have an attorney at this point, you can leave most of the filing work up to them. They will file a Complaint with the court detailing the incident at hand and how the claim proceedings went. The court will then serve the defendant with papers saying that they are obligated to participate in this process.
Next, you will go through the discovery phase. Both parties obtain more evidence than was used during the claims process.
The goal is to make sure that no stone is left unturned. Your attorney will need to consider both the facts of the matter, the best way to present them, and how the defense may use those same facts to tell a different story.
During the discovery phase, make sure that you are upfront with your attorney about any of your actions or behaviors that could have contributed to your injury at the time of the accident. The defense is certain to bring up these actions and behaviors if there are any. Depending on where you live, this could alter the outcome of your case due to a legal standard called comparative fault.
Mediation doesn’t always occur during a personal injury lawsuit, but some parties prefer to give it another shot. It is the last effort to reach a settlement before officially going to trial. The mediator is often a current or retired judge.
Even if you don’t reach a settlement during mediation, it is important that you are careful in the ways that you proceed. What is said and done during mediation tends to come into play during the trial. Listen to your attorneys, don’t offer up information that your attorney doesn’t know about, and maintain a calm demeanor.
If mediation is successful, your personal injury lawsuit will stop here. It is often beneficial to both sides to reach a settlement during mediation rather than going to trial. The longer the case takes, the more both sides are spending their money and valuable time going in circles.
If you make it to the trial phase, your case will rest largely on the decisions of a judge and jury. Both parties will go over all of the facts that were hashed out during the mediation phase. Ideally, no new evidence will come to light at this point, as everything should have come out during the discovery process.
The jury will listen to both parties before evaluating the facts as they understand them. They will then determine fault and award damages if they determine that you are entitled to them.
It is possible that the losing party will file for an appeal of the case. This occurs when the losing party feels that important facts were neglected, the jury exhibited bias, or the case was otherwise compromised.
The appeals process is not the same as the initial trial. It is beneficial to consult an appellate practitioner at this phase, even if you are not the party who filed the appeal. Remember that even if you won the first time, an appeal could change the outcome for you.
Get the Money You Deserve
Getting saddled with medical bills you weren’t expecting can be a major financial blow. We hope that we’ve helped to answer the question, what are the steps in a personal injury lawsuit? Now it’s up to you to fight for the money that you deserve.
In the meantime, we’re here to help you with everything from picking the best snacks for your party to recognizing when it’s time to consider senior care for your parents. Take a look around at everything else we have to offer.