Friday, March 6, 2015

What Is The Timeline of a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

People suffer injuries in various types of accidents every day. Many of these accidents occur because another person or party has acted in a negligent fashion. In such cases, injured victims have the legal right to recover for their injury-related losses from the negligent party by filing a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. Unfortunately, many injury victims who have the full right to recover decide to not pursue a legal claim for various reasons. For example, they may be intimidated by the idea of going to court or they may worry that the legal process will be extremely stressful and time-consuming.

The idea that financial recovery is not worth the lawsuit process is almost always mistaken, however. This is because having the assistance of a qualified and experienced personal injury lawyer can make the process go smoothly and be relatively stress-free for you. The right personal injury attorney will understand every facet of the lawsuit process and will guide you through every step of your case so that you have as little to worry about as possible.

The following is a brief overview of the timeline of a personal injury lawsuit:

Filing a claim

In order to initiate your case, your lawyer will draft and file a claim—also called a complaint or petition—with the civil court in your jurisdiction. This complaint will spell out the exact allegations that you are making against the negligent party and the recovery that you seek through the lawsuit. The defendant will receive notice that a complaint has been filed and will have the chance to file an answer to your claims, as well as any counter-claims or motions to dismiss your claim.

It is important that you do not wait too long to discuss a possible case with a client because a complaint must be filed within a certain time period, called the statute of limitations. Under Florida law, the statute of limitations for a personal injury case is generally four years from the date of the injury. Since a complaint takes time to prepare, you never want to wait until the last minute to contact an attorney.

Mediation

In some situations, it may be possible to use alternate dispute resolution (ADR) methods to come to an agreement with the defendant without any further litigation. One popular form of ADR is mediation, which allows both parties (and their attorneys) to sit down and discuss the case with a third party mediator. The mediator will try to facilitate a  discussion that may lead to a favorable outcome for both parties. In some cases, courts will order parties to attempt mediation before setting a trial date.

Discovery

If no agreement is reached through ADR, your case will continue on to the discovery stage, during which you and the other party will gather information from one another to build your case. There are many different methods of discovery, including:

·         Interrogatories
·         Requests for production of documents
·         Depositions
·         Requests for admissions

The phase of the case is governed by procedural rules set out by the state of Florida.

Settlement discussions

Based on the evidence each side discovered from the other, you may engage in settlement negotiations to avoid going to trial, using evidence as leverage for a more favorable agreement. The large majority of cases end up settling outside of court at this stage of the process.

Trial

If you are unable to settle the case, you will proceed to a jury trial. Each side will present their case to the jury in accordance with strict procedural guidelines and rules of evidence. During trial, you can bring in witnesses to testify and also present physical evidence to support your claims. At the end of the trial, the jury will enter a verdict that will determine how much you are able to recover for your injuries.

Contact an experienced personal injury attorney in Clearwater, Florida for a free consultation

The personal injury lawsuit process is not nearly as intimidating as most people believe as long as you have an experienced lawyer handling your case. At the Dolman Law Group, we help injured victims recover, so please do not hesitate to call 727-451-6900 for a free consultation today.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756
(727) 451-6900


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