Injuries happen all the time. You can be anywhere, doing about anything. Walking, driving, biking, eating in a restaurant even. Sometimes, a person hurts you due to negligence. Other times, an individual may infringe on your legal rights. There are still other scenarios where no one hurt you directly, but they are still to blame in some way. If you file a personal injury claim, there are many things that happen, and you will want to know what to expect along the way. Personal injury attorney, Dallas Horton, has shared some details of what to do in a personal injury claim.
Injury Claims Are a Journey
According to Find Law, one of the most reputable websites for legal advice, you’ll meet an attorney. That is the very first thing you will do. (There are ways to file personal injury claims on your own, but I’m assuming you want to hire a professional.) You will need to do research and ask around before selecting your lawyer, of course. Meet with several attorneys, ask questions, ensure that they are the most qualified. And be sure that you are comfortable with them and trust them.
Find Law says that “your attorney should explain each step”. That said, the process of “complaints, answers, and other motions” begins next. This is a preparation phase. Or, to be even more specific, a pre-preparation phase. Working with your attorney, you will learn all the ins and outs of this process. You will also use all relevant documentation you have before going on to discovery.
This third part has the peculiar name I just mentioned: discovery. A lot happens here, so I will spend some time explaining it. Discovery is, in essence, everything that happens before the trial (also called “pre-trial”). All Law is another major, reputable, online source. They explain that in discovery, “both sides will ask each other for evidence and witness information.” A principal part of discovery are depositions. These are a lot like being on the witness stand, except that the person is in a law firm office or conference room. Lawyers conduct depositions to establish the facts and opinions of the case to use in court. Once attorneys on both sides have as much information as possible, the next step begins.
Next, are motions, which are filings in court to a judge. An attorney might file a particular motion, such as a motion to dismiss. Find Law says that this could “cut off the case before the trial”. If something like this happens, you may end up with something called a settlement. Settlements are when both parties agree to a certain resolution without a trial. The details can be complex, but the gist is simple: Side A pays side B amount X, and so on. Find Law goes on to say, “Far more injury lawsuits settle than go to trial.” This is a good thing, in a lot of ways, especially if you’re the one receiving a sum. But, even if you have to pay the injured party, a trial is a costly procedure. Settling can lower that overall price.
If a trial does occur, a trial date will be set and a jury selected. All Law says, “At trial, the judge or jury will determine if the defendant is liable.” In other words, who has to pay and who receives that payment. If you want to learn the specifics of trial proceedings, there are many resources. Briskman & Briskman wrote a very detailed look at what happens both before and during a personal injury trial.
If you are the injured party, this is the most satisfying step. You guessed it: payout. The jury or judge has made their judgment, and you deserve money. That said, collecting money after a trial is its own uphill battle. This is an unfortunate fact of post-trial proceedings. And the last step makes it even more complicated.
The final piece of the puzzle is not a very fun one, even if the judge or jury decides in your favor. This is the process known as appeals. After trial, there may be an appeal made, which extends everything further. And you thought it couldn’t go on any longer! Briskman writes, “The defense could appeal the case and ask a higher (appellate) court to reconsider the verdict.” So, just when you thought it was done, in essence, it starts all over again. As you might have guessed, this may all take months or years to complete. The trial and appeals procedures together can consume lots of time and money.
It is quite a journey from personal injury claim to payout. Even so, if you have experienced a serious personal injury, it can be worth it in the end.
DuBois Law Group has an explainer video on YouTube that can help you get an even clearer sense of the process. Even more resources are available in books like this one. It is an introduction to the actual law if you want a more in-depth understanding.