Many personal injury claims can end up being resolved before a lawsuit is filed. If a settlement cant be reached outside of court, then a lawyer will file a lawsuit in court. A judge then sets a deadline for phases within the process. The process can take from a month to years, depending on factors and the complexity of the case. There will be different phases if the personal injury case goes to court.
Before a trial starts, there are different phases that need to be done first.
Complaint and Answer Phase: A complaint is a document that details the allegations with how you were injured and the extent of these injuries and damages. Its filed in the county where the injury happened or where party that damaged you lives. Once filed, this is then delivered to the defendant and the defendant needs to answer the Complaint. The Answer is the document where the defendant denies or admits to the allegations.
Discovery Phase: This is the formal process of information exchange between both parties regarding evidence and witnesses. This is important to make both parties aware of evidence that could be presented at trial.
Motions Phase: There are different kinds of motions that can be filed, depending on the type of case. A hearing may be held in order for the court to consider both sides of the argument.
Mediation or Arbitration
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution
, and it can be requested at any time during court proceedings. If requested then attorneys for both parties, along with a neutral mediator, will be present. If your case is in mediation, then both sides will present the case and engage in settlement negotiations that are facilitated by the mediator. Mediations arent binding and both parties have the right to either reject or accept the offer. Both parties can also use arbitration as another dispute resolution. Sometimes the court may require that a case goes to arbitration. In these cases, the judge believes that a reasonable settlement can be reached. Sometimes arbitration is a voluntary decision in order to save on court costs. During arbitration, a hearing takes place between the defendant and the plaintiff. It is judged by a neutral party called an arbitrator. The difference between the two is that arbitrations are binding while mediations are not. When the arbitrator makes a decision about the settlement then its final, while in mediation, either party is allowed to reject the offer.
Going to Trial
At trial, a plaintiff has the opportunity to argue his or her case. A jury examines the evidence, decides what really happened, and then rules on whether or not the defendant is responsible for the plaintiffs injuries. The trial for a personal injury case consists of six different phases. This includes jury selection, opening statements, witness testimony, closing arguments, jury instruction, and verdict.
Even if you do get a verdict that is in your favor, the case may still not be over after the trial. You should be prepared to deal with the fact that the defense can appeal the case in the search of a different verdict. If the defense doesnt bring an appeal, there is still some time that passes before you are going to get your compensation. Once you have received the check then the lawsuit is complete.
Will Your Personal Injury Case Go to Trial?
Whether or not your case goes to trial will be dependent on the details of the case. A majority of cases dont go to trial and are mostly settled during a pre-trial phase. There are some pros and cons to trial. At trial, you may get more damages than what was offered from the settlement, but you could lose and wind up with nothing. There are reasons why your case may go to trial. These include if the insurance company believes they will win the case so they dont offer a settlement or a low one, they dont want to set a precedent for settling this type of case, or the monetary amount demanded is too high to settle without fighting.
Different factors will influence whether you reject or accept a settlement offer and go to trial. These factors include the extent of injuries, cost of treatment, income and earning capacity, lost wages, future medical expenses, how sympathetic the client can be to a jury, and client age and family situation, along with precedence and jurisdiction. Not every lawyer is going to be experienced as a trial lawyer so if your case is going to go to trial, you need to make sure that you are working with a lawyer that is confident in trial abilities, such as Attorney David Mann
Certain injury cases have a higher rate of going all the way to trial. These include whiplash, truck accidents, medical malpractice, pedestrian accidents, wrongful death cases, and accidents that result in spinal damage or traumatic brain injury. There are also certain cases more likely to be settled outside of court and these includes fender bender type accidents, animal attacks and dog bites, and property damage cases.