What Happens in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
We’ve all been led to believe from movies and TV that our legal process is all about last-minute evidence, surprise witnesses, and grandiose speeches. That’s all show and not the real way business is done in a real courtroom.
For the most part, our legal system is well-thought-out, steady and sure, and fair and effective, and the person who understands it the best and can use it to his advantage is the one who will benefit most from it.
After you’ve been in an accident and concluded that you want to take legal action, here are the steps you’ll take to ensure the best outcome.
Securing Legal Assistance
A competent and capable lawyer who knows the system well and can help you navigate through it is your greatest ally. She’ll help you research the facts and develop a case so your best interests are represented. She’ll keep you informed of the status of your case at every level and act as your spokesperson with the court and the opposing side. She’ll also help you settle the case avoiding a trial, if that is your desire.
If an initial agreement is not reached, your attorney will file a lawsuit and dates will be set for each phase of the process. A complaint outlining the facts and extent of your injury will be created, filed with the court, and served to the defendant, who is charged with responding to the complaint in a set time. At every stage, you should be collecting records, filing bills, and taking copious notes about the status of your injury.
During this all-important, fact-finding phase, each party gathers testimony and evidence from the other side and third parties to determine the relative strength of your case and theirs. This will most likely include depositions, where witnesses, experts, and opposing parties are questioned under oath by your and/or their attorney or attorneys.
Mediation or Settlement
Mediation is a form of dispute resolution that attempts to avoid further costs, time, and consequences for both sides, which tend to increase significantly over time. In mediation, both sides present their side of the case before a mediator, whose ruling is nonbinding, and which both parties can choose to accept or reject.
This part of the process receives the most attention because it can be the most exciting and eventful. It’s definitely the most public and involves selecting a jury, opening statements, witness testimony and cross-examination, closing arguments, and jury instruction, deliberation, and verdict. This is often where the expertise and experience of your attorney will be put on display for the greatest impact.
If you receive a favorable ruling from the jury, your attorney will distribute the monetary reward—when she receives it—as outlined in your prior agreement. If you receive an unfavorable ruling, there is still an option for you to get another trial and judgment through an appeal. This is where a higher appellate court reviews the evidence and issues a ruling, which may include a new trial.
Amy Witherite, founder and lead attorney at Witherite Law Group, says, “Every aspect of a lawsuit is as important as the others, and you can take great advantage or get taken advantage of by the process if you don’t know how to successfully maneuver and ‘win’ each critical part.”
The best advice: know the system as well as you can and choose your attorney like your financial and future wellbeing depends on it. It often does.
The accident attorneys of Witherite Law Group help those who have been injured in a car or truck accident. Get legal help today by calling 1-800-CarWreck® or 1-800-TruckWreck or visiting www.WitheriteLaw.com. We’re available 24/7.