If you have been the victim of a personal injury, you have the right to receive compensation for your damages. But if you go after compensation, you must be careful to avoid the pitfalls of the process. When you know your rights and understand how the system works, you will have much better chance of getting adequate compensation for your injuries. Unless your injuries were minor, you should consult with an attorney after your accident. A good personal injury attorney can help you sort through and gather important evidence, and provide valuable advice on how to document your injuries and damages. An important point to take note of is you should never talk to an attorney representing the other person in the accident or the other person’s insurance company representative, or sign any documents, before consulting with your own attorney first. After you hire an attorney, your attorney will send a demand letter, either to the other person or to their attorney or to the other person’s insurance company. The letter will provide the relevant facts about the accident, such as time, place and cause of the injury, a description of the injury and ask for a specified amount in settlement of the case. A demand letter usually gives the other parties a specific time to respond.
If your case does not settle pre-trial, then the next step is for the person who has been injured,referred to as the plaintiff, with the help of their attorney, to file a lawsuit, what is referred to as a complaint. The party being sued is called the defendant and has a specific time to reply, such as 20 or 30 days. The reply is referred to as an answer. Both the complaint and the answer, are filed with the local court, usually in the jurisdiction where the plaintiff lives or where the accident occurred, yet in some circumstances the defendant may seek to have the lawsuit moved to a different court. After the lawsuit is filed, the parties have an opportunity to get information from each other about the case, also known as the discovery phase of a case. This can be in the form of written questions, sworn testimony in front of a court reporter, and requests for documents. Before the case goes to trial, the attorneys may make various legal arguments about the case in the form of motions to the court, which usually concern the relevancy of the complaint or answer, and disputes about discovery. Sometimes the arguments of one the party are so strong that they lead to a judgment in their favor without the need for to go to trial.
If all efforts at settlement fail, the case will be set for trial or arbitration. Arbitration is an alternative to the trial process. It is similar to a trial, but is conducted before an arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators. In binding arbitration the decision of the arbitrator or panel is as final as the trial court’s verdict. The trial process is different. At trial, the parties present witnesses, cross-examine the other parties’ witnesses, present evidence, and make arguments. At the end, the jury will enter a verdict for the plaintiff or defendant.
If you or a loved has suffered an injury due to an accident or have questions about personal injury law, contact our firm for a free consultation today. Our personal injury attorney has over 10 years experience representing personal injury clients and is prepared to put the law on your side. After an accident, it is important that you contact our firm promptly so that we can act quickly to protect your rights.