A personal injury lawsuit can begin after someone causes an injury. The injured party can file a suit to seek compensation for their costs. The first step of an injury lawsuit is the “complaint.”
This article will cover what you need to know about filing a lawsuit. After the first step, there are other actions you’ll need to take.
If you’re not sure what to do after an injury accident, call John Foy & Associates. We are one of the largest personal injury firms in Georgia. To learn more during a FREE consultation, call (404) 400-4000, or contact us online.
Step One: Filing a Personal Injury Complaint
Most personal injury lawsuits begin with the complaint. The complaint is a document telling the person who caused your injury (the defendant) that you (the plaintiff) plan to seek damages.
The complaint provides the following details:
- All parties involved in the lawsuit
- Details about how your injury happened
- Jurisdictional issues
- Your injury expenses
- What you’re demanding in compensation
There will be a fee to file your complaint. The cost is usually between $30 and $300. Where you submit your complaint will depend on your state’s court systems.
The end of your complaint will detail what you want the court to do. It might also include what damages you are seeking. Sometimes, the court will determine an amount later during the trial.
Notifying the Defendant
The complaint also called for a “summons.” The summons lets the defendant know that you are suing them. They will be able to view your complaint document.
You must ensure the defendant gets a copy of the complaint. Your lawyer can confirm that they get adequately served. The defendant will need time to hire a lawyer and plan their defense.
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What Happens After an Injury Lawsuit Begins
Filing the complaint is just the beginning. Here’s what happens in a lawsuit after the complaint.
If you don’t already, make sure you have a personal injury lawyer. You will need legal expertise on your side throughout the lawsuit process.
During the “discovery,” both sides will get evidence from each other. Both parties should have all of the essential information. Your lawyer will request what information they need.
A lawyer can request more information through the following:
- Interrogatories — Questions that each side must answer in writing and under oath
- Depositions — Questions that must be answered orally and under oath
- Requests for admission — One party asking the other to admit or deny specific facts
- Examinations — Physical or mental assessments by a medical professional
- Requests for production — One side asking the other to provide copies of documents
Before going to trial, lawyers on each side can use “motions.” Motions are requests to the court. An attorney might request a change of venue or dismissal of a judge.
After discovery and motions are complete, the judge will set a date for trial.
Before the trial, you will have chances for negotiation. Your lawyer will work hard to negotiate before the court date.
Trials take a lot of time and money. They are also emotionally exhausting. If your lawyer can get the defendant to agree to a fair settlement, it’s usually best. If you settle, there will not need to be a trial.
If both lawyers cannot settle alone, they might call in a “mediator.” The mediator tries to help both sides settle.
If you go to trial, both sides will present their case. The trial involves steps like:
- Opening statements
- Witnesses testimony
- Closing statements
- Jury deliberation
- The verdict
If you win at trial, the defendant will have to pay what you’ve requested.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim Versus Lawsuit
Most personal injury cases do not go to trial. Before filing a lawsuit, you can seek compensation through a personal injury claim.
You would file a personal injury claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. If you get a fair settlement offer, you will receive compensation. There will be no need to deal with the trial process.
The steps of an injury claim include:
- Gathering evidence of the accident
- Keeping track of your expenses
- Getting medical treatment
- Notifying your insurance company
- Sending a demand letter to the insurance company
- Negotiating with the at-fault party’s insurer
If you cannot settle, then you might need to go to trial. An experienced lawyer will know what is best for your situation. The goal is to compensate you fully for the injuries you’ve suffered.
Your Personal Injury Damages
Your personal injury damages might include:
- Medical bills
- Prescription medications
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
Your lawyer will calculate the worth of your damages. That way, you’ll know what an acceptable settlement or court award is for you.
As an injury victim, you have a right to pursue damage as compensation (Georgia Code Section 51-12-4). But you will need to show how the other party was at fault. You’ll also need to prove the damages they’ve caused.
Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer for Free Today
At John Foy & Associates, we can handle every detail of your injury case. With over 20 years of experience, we know how to win cases.
We’ll fight to get you fair compensation for your damages. If you end up needing to file a lawsuit, we’ll be there for every step. Plus, working with us is risk-free. We do not charge you a fee unless we win you compensation.
To get a FREE consultation, call (404) 400-4000 or contact us online today.