If you have been caused harm by another driver, you have the right to file a lawsuit and gain justice in civil court. It's all too easy to threaten to take some to court but many have only the vaguest ideas of what it means. Here is a summary that includes the major steps leading up to the first day in court.
After the Accident: An Opportunity for a Settlement
A settlement is different than going to court. In a lot of ways, it's better because things can happen faster, it tends to cost less, and it's a lot less stressful for those who have already suffered injuries. Settlements mean the victim agrees to accept a sum of money for dropping the case. After consulting with a lawyer to make sure the compensation is fair and adequate, you promise to take no further action. If you settle, it's all over with and you can be paid in a matter of days.
File the Lawsuit
If a settlement is not forthcoming, your lawyer may suggest you file a lawsuit. This is accomplished by filing paperwork with the court clerk in your county. The paperwork might be called a complaint or a petition and it's usually served on the people or business you are taking action against. In many cases, the suit names the defendant's insurance company as well. Here is what the main part of a lawsuit contains:
- Parties: You are the plaintiff and you are suing the defendant.
- Courts: The specific court jurisdiction is named.
- Claims: List how you were harmed, why you were harmed, who harmed you, and some reasons why you can back up your claims.
- Demand (prayers): What you want to be paid in the form of compensation for the harm done to you.
It is important to note that there is no need to go into a great deal of detail in a lawsuit. More will come later about evidence to support your claims.
This sort of action is likely already in progress and consists of gathering evidence, interviewing accident reconstruction and medical experts, taking down witness statements, and more.
Before the trial can begin, discovery happens. Discovery can take several weeks or even months if it's a complex case and is comprised of several exercises. Most of the discovery actions are meant to compel each side to provide the other with information about the case. That means sharing evidence and facts about the case so that the lawyers can prepare for the trial. To get more information about the lawsuit process, speak with an auto accident attorney.