If you have been injured in an accident due to no fault of your own, you may be dealing with injuries and other losses that may lead you to file a personal injury claim. The team of lawyers at Ogg, Murphy & Perkosky, P.C., recommend you follow these steps to preserve your rights and take the right actions to fight for the compensation to which you might be entitled. Read on to find out what these steps are.
Get Legal Representation
When your health is compromised and you have to spend your days going to medical appointments, receiving treatments, taking medications, and dealing with pain, you need someone with a clear head and the right legal knowledge by your side. This is why a personal injury attorney can be your best tool at this time. Your attorney will help you understand your legal rights, explain the value of your case, and conduct a thorough investigation into the accident that caused your injuries to build a strong case on your behalf.
Summons and Complaint
Once you have found the right attorney to work with, you will likely start the process of filing a claim. The first document your attorney will help you prepare will be a complaint in which you typically include information identifying the parties involved, the legal claims and facts related to them, and the legal basis for the court’s jurisdiction over the lawsuit. This document will also include what you want the court to do for you and it will be filed in the appropriate court. The defendant must also be made aware at this time that the complaint has been filed and they would receive a document called a “summons”.
Once the defendant receives the summons, they may respond within a certain number of days, generally around 21. Their answer should address each point spelled out in your complaint and either admit or deny them. They may also have claims against you and inform you with a “counterclaim” to which you also have an opportunity to answer.
Once all of these documents have been filed, the parties start the process of gathering evidence. This step is called discovery and allows both parties to have access to all pertinent information. Each party must request from the other the information they want. They may ask specific questions, request documents, or request admission from the other party related to any material fact. They may also go through a deposition in which they have a chance to ask the other party or their witnesses any questions. This way the parties will gather all admissible evidence.
Before the start of the trial, any party may use a motion to ask the court to take certain actions. They may request a summary judgment, a default judgment, a change of venue, or a motion to compel.
Both parties understand that trials are usually expensive, emotionally draining, and time-consuming. For these reasons, good attorneys attempt to resolve the case before it gets to court. If they can reach a settlement that satisfies their client, the case will conclude at this point and the trial will be avoided.
There are several ways negotiations can be carried out. These may be through accepting a settlement, which may be reached after offers and counteroffers are exchanged between the parties or it may be reached after the attorneys have a conversation.
Another option is to bring in a neutral third party or mediator. The job of a mediator is to help the parties settle by meeting privately with each party and discussing the strengths or weaknesses of their case. The mediator has no power to force the parties to take any action. Finally, another option is called arbitration. The arbitrator is also a third party that will aim to resolve the dispute in question. Arbitration works like a trial in which the parties have an opportunity to present their evidence and argue their case. However, if the parties have agreed to settle their dispute this way, they will later not be able to appeal the decision of the arbitrator to a judge in court.