While 96% of personal injury cases in the United States are settled before going to trial, some circumstances may require filing a lawsuit and going to court.
Litigation may be necessary when:
- The defendant denies liability
- The defendant refuses to pay a fair settlement
- Your damages are high, and you feel you need punitive damages
- The defendant is a government entity
The first step in filing a personal injury lawsuit is to choose an attorney. An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to assess your case and help you determine whether or not you have a strong claim.
Your Florida personal injury attorney will then take care the next steps in the process, including:
In this post, we will outline each of these steps in more detail so that you know what to expect if your case goes to trial.
1. Investigating Your Claim
To build a strong personal injury case, your attorney will need to collect evidence. This may include:
- Speaking with eyewitnesses
- Taking photographs of the scene of the accident
- Obtaining copies of police reports
- Gathering medical records
Experts, such as accident deconstructionists, may also be hired to provide additional support for your claim.
2. Filing a Complaint with the Court
After investigating your claim and gathering evidence, your attorney will file a complaint with the court. The complaint is a document that outlines your legal claims against the defendants.
A copy of the complaint will then be served to the defendants. Once this happens, the defendants will have 30 days to file their response with the court.
Discovery is the process in which both sides exchange information about the case. This may include:
- Requests for production of documents
- Interrogatories (written questions)
- Depositions (oral testimony)
When your case goes to trial, the evidence gathered during discovery will be used to support your claims.
A deposition is a type of oral testimony that is given under oath. During a deposition, the attorney for the other side will ask you questions about your case. Your answers will be recorded and can be used during the trial.
Motions are requests that are made to the court for a specific type of relief. For example, one common motion in personal injury cases is a motion for summary judgment. This type of motion is filed when one party believes that there is no need for a trial because the facts of the case are not in dispute and one party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
If your case goes to trial, both sides will present their evidence and argument to a judge or jury. The judge or jury will then decide whether the plaintiff is entitled to damages and, if so, how much.
Final Words: How Much in Damages Are You Entitled To?
The amount of damages you are entitled to will depend on the specific facts of your case. In general, however, you may be able to recover both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are those that have a specific monetary value, such as medical bills or lost wages. Non-economic damages are more difficult to quantify and may include pain and suffering or emotional distress.
If you have been injured in an accident, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case. An experienced attorney will be able to assess your claim, determine the value of your case, and help you recover the maximum amount of damages possible.