For most accident victims, a lawsuit is an uncommon experience. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the process, but it is necessary to remember that your lawyer will handle most of the legal and trial work. A typical personal injury case will follow a predictable five-step process.
1. Case Assessment
An accident victim will typically begin the process by finding a qualified attorney. The lawyer will then look over the claim’s specifics, assessing the potential value or success of a trial. If it is determined there is enough to move forward, the lawyer you select will begin the next steps.
2. Complaint Filed
If there is enough to go to trial or begin settlement negotiations, your attorney will file an official complaint, notifying the defendant of the pending lawsuit. The defendant will have time to acknowledge and respond to the complaint, at which point each party can agree or disagree and move forward in the process.
3. Discovery and Pre-Trial
If the process continues, it will reach the discovery and pre-trial phase. This is the point in the process when each side must present their evidence and potential witnesses.
The pre-trial will occur before a judge. Each party must explain where the claim stands. The judge will want to know if settlement negotiations are possible or if a trial is the next obvious step. Most personal injury claims will go to arbitration or mediation to discuss settlement possibilities.
4. Settlement Negotiations
During settlement negotiations, each party will have the opportunity to present their claims, and the evidence they feel supports their argument. When each side is finished presenting, both parties will have an opportunity to question the other. At the end of the questioning, each party will discuss the potential for a settlement. If the defendant feels the plaintiff has a strong claim, they may offer a settlement.
If settlement negotiations fail, the next likely step is a trial. Most people want to avoid personal injury trials because of the time required and the unpredictability of the outcome. A defendant may spend more money on damages than if they had settled. It is also possible the plaintiff will end up with nothing.
Are you injured and hoping to take a personal injury claim to trial? Contact a local Greensville County, VA Traffic Lawyer, like The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, to discuss the potential of your case. They can assess the likely outcomes and advise you about the next steps.