No two personal injury cases are the same; each case is unique. However, there are common elements that can be expected once you file a personal injury lawsuit. This article will discuss some standard features you will encounter when deciding to file a personal injury lawsuit.
The basis of each personal injury lawsuit is that the plaintiff was injured. Personal injury law provides for injured individuals to receive relief from the injuries they have suffered at the hands of a negligent party. As such, proof of the plaintiff’s injuries plays a significant role in the case.
If the losses suffered by the plaintiff go beyond the threshold of the small claims court limit, most plaintiffs will consider hiring a Bakersfield personal injury lawyer. The initial consultation, which is free, allows both the attorney and the plaintiff to see if there is a valid personal injury case to be pursued. If both parties are happy, the attorney may agree to conduct further investigations that includes determining whether the defendant has insurance or sufficient assets to cover any settlement or judgement. Once this is determined, the attorney-client relationship is made official and binding by way of a fee agreement that the plaintiff and attorney sign. No fees will be charged unless the lawyer recovers compensation for the injury victim.
The next stage is to file a complaint and serve it upon the defendant. First, the personal injury complaint is filed in the appropriate civil court. By definition, the complaint does what the word says, complain. It basically gives information stating the charges being made against the defendant. This may include what the defendant did and how the plaintiff was injured or suffered losses as a result. Once filed, the plaintiff’s attorney must locate the defendant and serve the complaint in a little over a month. Serving the complaint basically means that the document is physically delivered to the defendant in a way that can be verified. This is an important stage as it eliminates the possibility of the defendant claiming that they do not know about the lawsuit. Therefore, service papers and the complaint tell the defendant the date they are to appear in court.
On the defendant’s side, it is often prudent on their part to hire an attorney before their first court date. If the defendant has an appropriate insurance policy or valuable assets, it will not be difficult to find a defense attorney willing to represent them. If their insurance is suitable for the personal injury case, the defendant will need to notify their insurance company as soon as they are aware of the lawsuit. The insurance company will then appoint and pay a lawyer to represent the defendant if the defendant has not hired one already.
A pre-trial process is triggered, where both sides request evidence and witness information from each other. This phase is called discovery and allows both sides to request information of the other side. They may also agree to mediation or even arbitration. A trial date will be set by the court. The mere fact of filing a lawsuit in court does not mean the case will go all the way to trial. Most cases settle even if a lawsuit needs to be filed.