If you are in a car accident and suffer a severe injury, you will likely miss work, and your share of the medical costs might be more than you can afford. Your insurance might not cover all of your expenses. Besides the projected amount of money that your injury will cost you, the injury will affect your life. In this situation, you will need a lawyer.
As your lawyer will explain, many steps occur before going to court. Your lawyer will also give you a case scenario, which will consist of different possibilities. It is always best to consider the advice of your lawyer. Your lawyer is a professional and repeatedly sees different scenarios. You will have several choices along the way, but you need to know that those choices will end once you go to trial unless you make a deal before the judge’s decision.
During litigation, your case could be settled shortly after the demand letter, which indicates to the other party that litigation is underway. Your case could also be settled at the last minute before the scheduled trial is ready to begin. In between, there are several possibilities of how the case is settled.
Before entering into a personal injury lawsuit, you should understand the litigation process, including the actual trial.
What Should I Do to Prepare for a Personal Injury Case?
If you have a catastrophic injury that resulted from the negligent actions of another party, you need to be on top of the situation immediately. Seeking immediate medical treatment after a car accident is of the utmost importance. You want to find out the severity of your injury and what course of treatment you need. Delaying treatment could worsen a condition, and it could also dramatically increase the cost.
Beyond your health, there is the legal aspect. Just as with an insurance company, the lawyer of the defendant will look through your recent medical history and how you have taken care of your injury. This is to assess the severity of your injury.
If you have not done all that you could for yourself, the defendant’s lawyer during the litigation process may claim that your injury is not as severe as you say. You could also be accused of having lied about the injury all together.
Medical receipts will add credibility to your case, not to mention they may project what costs you might have to endure in the near future. If the case is settled in court, the same goes for a judge. A judge may also form an opinion based on your course of action from the onset of your injury.
If your injury is minor, you may file a claim yourself, but it is always wise to consult a lawyer. Consulting with a lawyer is the best decision you could make, and many times, it is the only decision you can make that will grant you the outcome you hope.
What Is the First Step in the Process of Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Your lawyer will interview you before the process begins. This is to see if you have a case. Once it is agreed that a lawsuit is warranted, your lawyer will file the lawsuit with the court. Shortly after that, you will have to serve the defendant with a copy of the complaint. This will fulfill the notice requirement.
Keep in mind that the procedure for this process will vary according to jurisdiction. The court will then notify you of the set discovery period. This is when your lawyer will try to settle the case, either with a settlement or arbitration, which may be more beneficial to you than going to trial.
What Is the Discovery Process?
It is essential to understand that many lawsuits are settled relatively quickly. The severity of the injury is always a consideration when contemplating whether or not to settle.
Discovery is the allotted time for each side to investigate the facts. Evidence and witnesses are collected to substantiate or offer a rebuttal to the claim. Each side will be allowed to view the other’s evidence and witnesses to allow for fairness.
Depositions, which are testimonies under oath, will be taken, and medical records will be reviewed. An idea of what the damages are will be decided upon by each lawyer separately, allowing for the lawyers to begin discussing a possible settlement. If no settlement is agreed upon, the next step is to file a pretrial motion to get the judge to make a ruling on essential issues that could make a difference in the case.
The decisions that a judge is usually asked to make have to do with whether or not critical evidence should be allowed if the case goes to trial. A particular piece of evidence that is ruled admissible could persuade one side to make a settlement due to the possible effect it could have once a trial is underway.
If discovery cannot yield a result, arbitration is the next step.
What Is the Arbitration Process?
Arbitration is an alternate route to settle a claim. The process begins with both sides agreeing to the terms of the arbitration. This includes choosing the arbitrator and the terms the arbitration will be conducted. Keep in mind that sometimes the terms cannot be agreed upon, in which case the suit will be settled in court.
The terms range from how existing evidence may be presented to whether or not the decision reached will be a final ruling or just a strong recommendation. The arbitrator is, in many cases, a lawyer or retired judge. It is important that you carefully consider your options. A case tried in front of a judge or jury is never guaranteed.
What Happens if a Personal Injury Case Goes to Trial?
A personal injury trial is usually the last resort. The judge might request a pretrial hearing to give both sides one more try to settle; if not, the trial proceeds.
Your lawyer may ask you if you would like the case to be decided by a judge or jury. A judge making a decision is called a bench trial. Sometimes, specific circumstances will force the judge to insist on a bench trial instead of using a jury.
A trial by jury has the jury decide who is at fault and how much to award for damages. A personal injury trial is not the same as a criminal trial in which the jury’s decision has to be unanimous. Instead, only five out of six jurors are needed. In Pennsylvania, there may be seven jurors.
It is important to remember that you may choose to settle the case at any time before the decision goes to the judge or jury. A decision made by the judge or jury is final. Remember that your lawyer can never accurately predict a decision, so it is wise to consider a settlement.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Represent Clients Who Are Seeking Compensation for Accident Injuries
If you have been injured in an accident due to the negligence of another party, our experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC can help. Call us at 215-569-8488 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, Media, Pennsylvania, and Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.