The Stages of a Personal Injury Lawsuit
After an accident, you might reach a settlement with the person who injured you. But in many situations, you need to file a lawsuit. The civil courts in New York exist so that injured people can bring suit against the person whose negligence caused their injuries.
We wish that the personal injury lawsuit process was easy, but it is not. Below, we take a closer look at the different stages in the process.
Hiring the Right Lawyer
Lawsuits are more complicated than many people think and are nothing like an episode of Judge Judy. Hiring an attorney to represent you is key if you hope to get fair compensation for your injuries. Remember, the defendant’s insurance company has an attorney, and you will be disadvantaged if you don’t.
To find the right lawyer, schedule a free consultation where you can ask the lawyer questions and find out more about his or her experience. Look for someone who has handled multiple personal injury cases like yours.
Filing Your Lawsuit
A lawsuit starts when the plaintiff (the injured person) files a complaint in court. The complaint identifies the people or businesses being sued (the defendants) and provides some details about the circumstances that gave rise to the current dispute.
The complaint also states how much compensation the plaintiff is seeking. With your attorney, you should carefully analyze all your economic losses, like medical bills, car repairs, lost wages, and other expenses attributable to the accident. Our clients typically also receive compensation for certain non-economic losses, like pain and suffering or emotional distress.
Once the lawsuit is filed, copies of all paperwork must be served on the defendant. Generally, you can’t just hand deliver the paperwork to the defendants but usually hire someone, either a process server or the local sheriff.
Engaging in Discovery
Discovery is the stage where each side tries to uncover as many facts as possible about the dispute. You can ask the other side to turn over documents, let you inspect items, and answer questions under oath. The defendants can also ask the same of you. In many accident cases, our clients answer questions in person in a deposition, which is usually held in a lawyer’s office. You should prepare with your attorney for this event.
A case can settle at any time—before filing a lawsuit or after. Often, each side makes a good-faith attempt to reach an agreement to avoid trial. In some cases, you might attend mediation, where a mediator helps each side think through the dispute and find common ground. If you reach a settlement, each side signs a settlement agreement.
Going to Court
A year or more could pass from filing your complaint to going to trial. Trials can be before a jury or just the judge, which is called a bench trial. Each side can present witnesses and physical evidence to make their case. As the plaintiff, you will win if the jury believes it is more likely than not that the defendant is legally responsible for your injuries.
Contact a New York City Personal Injury Lawyer Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation
Lipsig, Shapey, Manus & Moverman is a leading NYC personal injury firm that has helped countless people get compensation for their injuries over the past 80 years. Let us help you by calling 212-285-3300 or filling out our contact form.