Being involved in a legal dispute causes stress. It raises questions. The answers to these questions matter all the more if you or a loved one has been injured in an accident.
If you filed an unsuccessful claim, you’re probably curious about litigation. For example, what is the next step if a settlement isn’t reached in a personal injury claim? What does litigation mean in a personal injury case?
The term “litigation” can sound intimidating, so let’s explore what it means for your case.
What Is Litigation?
You may have already submitted a claim to an insurance company for compensation. However, if both parties were unable to reach an agreement, that’s where litigation comes in.
Litigation is the process of resolving disputes in court when a settlement isn’t reached. It involves legal actions such as filing a lawsuit, gathering evidence, conducting depositions, and potentially going to trial.
The goal is to establish liability and determine the appropriate recovery for damages suffered by the injured party. Litigation may result in a court judgment or encourage parties to reach a settlement before trial.
Litigation Steps for Personal Injury Cases
Litigation involves many steps. If you haven’t already, you need to hire a personal injury lawyer. They can evaluate your case, gather evidence, talk with the other side, form an effective strategy, and bring your case to court. Other steps include:
Filing a Complaint
The complaint sets the stage for the lawsuit, laying out the basis of your claim against the defendant. It also kickstarts the lawsuit officially. Complaint typically include the following information:
- Identification of Parties: The names and addresses of the plaintiff (the person injured) and the defendant (the party allegedly responsible).
- Jurisdiction and Venue: Why the case is being filed in a particular location and why the court has the authority to hear the case.
- Factual Allegations: A detailed account of the incident leading to the injury, outlining how it occurred and the defendant’s alleged negligence or fault.
- Legal Claims: Statements of how the defendant’s actions or inactions breached a legal duty, leading to the plaintiff’s injury.
- Damages: A description of the injuries and losses suffered by the plaintiff, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any other relevant damages.
- Demand for Judgment: A statement of the legal remedies the plaintiff is seeking, which can include monetary compensation and any other appropriate relief.
- Signatures: The complaint must be signed by the plaintiff or their attorney, certifying that the information is accurate and not being presented for improper purposes.
The discovery phase is an important part of litigation, revealing the strengths and weaknesses of each side’s case. It often shapes settlement negotiations and trial strategies. Discovery may include:
- Interrogatories: These are written questions requiring written responses. Parties can ask about the facts of the case, the injuries suffered, and details about the claim.
- Requests for Production: Parties may request relevant documents, such as medical records, incident reports, or employment records.
- Depositions: Oral testimonies taken under oath, where witnesses and parties are questioned by attorneys. Depositions help clarify the facts, assess the credibility of witnesses, and provide a preview of trial testimony.
- Expert Witness Reports: If experts are involved, their reports and findings are shared during discovery.
Motions are requests for the court to do something, crucial for moving the case in a desirable direction. This phase is all about strategy. Here are some examples:
- Pre-trial motions set the ground rules for the trial. They can cover a range of requests, from excluding certain evidence to deciding on specific legal issues
- The defense might file a motion to dismiss, arguing the lawsuit lacks legal grounds. If successful, the case is dismissed.
- A summary judgment is a request for the court to rule in favor of the plaintiff based on the evidence presented, claiming it’s so clear-cut that there’s no need for a trial.
- Discovery motions are used when one party asks the court to compel the other side to provide evidence that they’re withholding.
If the sides can’t agree on a settlement, the case goes to trial. During a trial, both sides show their arguments and evidence to a judge or jury, who will decide the case. A trial can last for days or weeks, depending on the case and the court. In rare situations, it could take months.
Expert Litigators For Personal Injury Cases
When a settlement isn’t reached in your personal injury claim, you need an expert litigator in your corner. But at Flanagan Law, we’re not just in your corner—we’re in the ring fighting for you. Schedule a free consultation to learn how we can help you get justice.
Not ready to schedule a consultation? Discover more helpful tips and best practices for your case. Read The Complete Guide to Personal Injury Cases in Atlanta.