If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury or death, you may need to file suit in state or federal court against the personal or company who caused the injury due to negligence. Accidents involving cars, trucks, slips and falls, dog bites, and gunshot wounds are a few types of injury cases that Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers have taken to court. Litigation in accident cases usually involves a person who has been permanently hurt or killed due to the negligence of another who have ample insurance to collect.
There are many steps to filing and pursuing a personal injury lawsuit. However, with help from personal injury lawyers, your claim doesn’t have to be a challenge for you. Below, we’ll take you through the steps of a personal injury lawsuit and how it could work in your case. We will cover:
- When Lawsuits Are Necessary, and Why?
- Main Steps In Your Personal Injury Lawsuit
- Talk To A Personal Injury Lawyer
Most cases settle out of court in personal injury claims. In some cases, you can file a claim against the responsible party and settle the claim through negotiations even after suit is filed. This should result in a settlement that seems fair to both parties and will end your case somewhat more quickly than taking it to court. Mediation is common in court cases.
However, there are many situations in which a lawsuit is necessary. Usually, a lawsuit is necessary for two main reasons:
- The statute of limitations is expiring.
- The insurance company won’t make an acceptable offer in serious cases.
Let’s dig a little deeper into these two situations.
The Statute of Limitations is Expiring
Every state has its own statute of limitations. This statute limits how soon after an accident you can bring a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party in your accident. For example, in Kentucky, the statute of limitations is one year for an injury claim and two years in a vehicle accident or longer if PIP is paid. In Tennessee, the statute is only one year. Minors have until age 18 for the statute to start running.
Once the statute of limitations has expired, you can no longer bring your claim to court. You will not be awarded any kind of compensation after your accident if the statute has expired. The statute is provided so that legal disputes can be resolved in a shorter amount of time.
The Insurance Company Won’t Make An Acceptable Offer
When you file a personal injury claim against another person, their insurance company is usually the entity that enters into negotiations with you and your lawyers for an appropriate settlement through their attorney. Most people don’t have the money in their pocket to pay for the costly damages and medical bills the accident likely caused, so they need their insurance cover it.
After a crash, a claims adjuster will investigate what happened in the accident and will decide who is at fault and how much the accident is “worth.” They will usually make a settlement offer to you through your attorneys, if you’re working with an attorney. Your attorney will bring you the offer, and you have to decide if you want to accept it or ask for more. This is the process of negotiations, and it can go on for some time.
Of course, insurance companies may want to pay as little as possible, so sometimes they will refuse to make acceptable offers in an attempt to save money. If this is the case, you may have to take your personal injury claim to court as a lawsuit to force them to pay you what you deserve. At that point, the amount will be determined by the judge and jury on your case if not settled, usually at mediation before trial.
Step 1: Complaint
The first thing you’ll need to do is file a complaint. You must file this with the state or federal court. Typically, a complaint will include an account of the accident, what injuries resulted from the accident, and the amount you are seeking due to the accident. This complaint will be served to the defendant(s) responsible for the accident.
Step 2: Answer
After you file your complaint, the defendant must file an answer within a set amount of time. In Tennessee, the defendant will usually have 30 days, while in Kentucky, they will have 20 days. This answer will always deny the claim.
Step 3: Discovery
Following the answer, both sides of the lawsuit will engage in discovery. During this process, they will gather evidence such as medical bills and records, photographic or video evidence from the accident scene, and documentation of lost wages or other important factors in the case.
In addition, they will send interrogatories (written questionnaires) and requirements for production to involved parties and take depositions (verbal statements, taken in the form of a questioning) of parties and witnesses in the case.
Step 4: Depositions
A deposition is much like a questioning you might experience in a courtroom, but it is usually held in a law office and is less formal. You will be asked all kinds of questions, including personal information, your recollection of the accident, and your account of what you have suffered since the accident.
Lawyers from both sides of the case will take depositions of their opponents. These depositions will show them what will come out in court and how they need to prepare. These are always under oath, so if you lie you can be subject to perjury and may be recorded.
Step 5: Mediation
In most cases, parties will attempt mediation before going to a judge and jury. In fact, in most states, this process is mandatory. Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party will hear both sides of the argument and try to help the parties come to a settlement. However, if mediation does not result in a fair settlement, the case will have to go on to court.
Step 6: Trial
After mediation, if you have not settled your case will head to trial. There, your lawyers will present their arguments before a judge and jury. The jury will decide your case and how much compensation you deserve after your accident. Following their determination, your attorneys will help collect the money you won and get back to living your life as soon as possible.
Step 7: Appeals
After a trial, the losing party may appeal the verdict which can delay the case, often one to two years.
If you’ve been in a car accident in Kentucky or Tennessee, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. However, any personal injury lawsuit can be complicated. In order to make sure you meet the deadlines required and can win your case in court, you should contact a personal injury lawyer.
A personal injury lawyer from our offices at Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers will give you a free consultation to determine how your case will work in court. They will then help you pursue your claim to get the justice and compensation you deserve. If you’ve been in a Kentucky or Tennessee accident, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today.