Your Guide to Filing a Lawsuit
Munley Law Personal Injury Lawyers’ Guide to Filing a Lawsuit
If a company or person has acted in negligence and caused you serious injury, you may file a lawsuit in order to obtain financial compensation from the at-fault party. But filing a lawsuit can be a challenging task. Any slight mistake can cost you the compensation that you deserve or cause further damages. That’s why you need the proper guidance and an experienced team of attorneys.
Below, we will explain what it means to file a personal injury lawsuit and how to increase your chances of winning.
What does it mean to file a lawsuit?
A lawsuit is a formal legal case that you or your lawyer files with the court. Filing a lawsuit involves telling the court that the defendant acted negligently and hurt you (the plaintiff). In filing a lawsuit, you are requesting that the court order the company or individual to compensate you for causing harm to your body or property.
In most cases, it is in your best interest to obtain a lawyer to do this on your behalf.
How long does it take to file a lawsuit?
Under the Pennsylvania Statute of Limitations, you must file a personal injury lawsuit within two years of the date you sustained the injury. However, there is a lot of work that must be done before a lawsuit is filed, so it is best to contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
Is filing a lawsuit the same thing as suing someone?
Yes, suing is the same as filing a lawsuit.
The person filing suit is the “plaintiff” (usually, the injured party), and the person or entity they are suing is the “defendant.” In most personal injury cases, we seek compensation via the defendant’s insurance company, not from an individual.
How do I file a lawsuit in Pennsylvania? Steps to take in filing a lawsuit
Before filing a personal injury case, it’s prudent to follow the proper legal procedure to ensure you get the compensation you deserve without any barrier.
Don’t wait to take action
As stated above, Pennsylvania has a “statute of limitations” limiting the period you have to file a lawsuit. This period is usually two years for cases involving personal injuries. So ensure you get everything done before this window closes- you don’t want to lose your right to recover the damages.
It’s also important to note that preparing and filing a lawsuit takes time. So don’t wait to consult a lawyer. The earlier you seek representation, the better your chances of success. At Munley Law, there is no obligation when you meet with a lawyer to discuss your case. So, if you are unsure whether you have a case or how you would like to proceed, you’ll risk nothing by speaking with one of our attorneys. We will listen to the facts of your potential case and advise you on what to do next.
In the meantime, be sure to document as much as possible. Take photos of any damage/injuries, and obtain contact information for any witnesses, if possible. Keep track of any and all medical treatment and associated bills.
Contact a personal injury lawyer
Even if you are unsure whether you have a case, it is best to contact an attorney and get a professional’s opinion. There is no fee and no obligation associated with consulting an experienced personal injury lawyer at Munley Law. We will review your situation at no charge and help you determine what to do next.
During your initial consultation we will explain your legal rights and we may make a recommendation as to how you ought to proceed. We will explain the contract and fee agreement; at Munley Law, we protect you from financial risk by using a contingent fee agreement under which we only collect a fee if we win your case, and we do not charge anything if the case is unsuccessful. When you retain us as your representation, we will begin work on your case immediately, and handle the entire process henceforth on your behalf.
Your lawyer will complete the complaint and summons
The complaint is the legal document that identifies the factual and legal foundation for your lawsuit. Its beginning will identify the plaintiff (you), the at-fault person (defendant), and the court that will handle the lawsuit.
This section will be followed by numbered paragraphs and sentences explaining the court’s jurisdiction to handle the case, establish the negligence behind your claims, state the associated facts, and explain the damages you’re claiming.
Your lawyer may also file a summons, a formal document that identifies the plaintiff and the defendant. This document also explains to the defendant that you’re suing them. The contents include the court representative’s signature and the court’s seal.
Serve the defendant a copy of the summons and complaint
The next step is to serve your defendant a copy of the Summon and Complaint. This step is crucial- it allows the court to exercise jurisdiction over the person at fault and impose judgment.
The person at fault can:
- File an answer to the claim in which they deny or admit each of the stated allegations OR
- State that they neither deny nor admit the claims
The defender can also choose to file a dismissal motion. If they’re granted this motion, a portion of or the whole of your allegation is dismissed.
We are prepared to take your case to trial
In many cases, your lawyer will negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company and see that you are properly compensated for the costs you have incurred and the suffering you have experienced. However, we will be prepared to bring your case to trial in front of a judge and jury if necessary. This is an important difference, because many personal injury lawyers have never been to trial, much less won a verdict.
Do I need a lawyer to file a lawsuit?
Yes. Without proper legal guidance, a personal injury lawsuit can get complicated. You don’t want to face the combined ruthless forces of defendants and insurance companies who might have mastered every trick in the book to win against you. While it is legal for you to forgo representation, it is typically not in your best interest to do so.
Hiring the services of a lawsuit lawyer in Pennsylvania can tremendously boost your chances of getting the compensation you deserve after sustaining an injury.
Can I file a lawsuit against my employer in Pennsylvania?
Under the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law, you cannot sue your employer for the injury you got from the workplace. The law sees workers’ compensation as a “no-fault” benefit. This implies that the workers’ compensation will take care of that injury regardless of whose fault it is (employers’, fellow workers’, or yours).
But there are several exceptions to this general rule:
- The employer injured you intentionally: did your boss commit a specific act with the intent of causing you harm? You can file a case against them. But if the injury happened due to negligence on their part, you cannot sue them.
- Your boss lacks enough Workers’ Compensation insurance: Your employers’ Workers’ Compensation may fail to compensate you fully for the injury or lost wages. Here, you can file a lawsuit against them
- Your employer acted in violation of the OSHA safety principles: OSHA may determine that your boss acted against federal safety regulations. That’s where you may pursue extra damages after getting benefits from Workers’ Compensation
Can I file a lawsuit for pain and suffering?
Yes. In the event of an accident, you might sustain emotional, financial, and physical injuries (otherwise known as compensatory damages). You can file a lawsuit to be compensated for all of these economic and non-economic damages.
What damages can I recover when filing a lawsuit in Pennsylvania?
Economic and non-economic damages differ in their valuation. Recovery of economic damages involves compensation for all the expenses and losses that have accrued and will accrue due to the injury. The settlement for these damages should restore you to your financial position.
These damages include:
- Nursing care
- Medical bills
- Lost wages (both past and future)
- The expenses of repairing or replacing property
On the other hand, non-economic damages are more difficult to value. There’s no one-size-fits-all compensation, as they differ from one case to another. So, what are some of these damages?
- Suffering and pain
- Emotional distress
- Loss of life enjoyment
Choose the right lawyer to file your lawsuit
Filing a lawsuit against a person or company who caused you harm can be a complex process. Choosing the right lawyer for your potential lawsuit is extremely important.
Munley Law brings more than six decades of experience to each of our personal injury cases. We have earned national recognition for our large verdicts and settlements, and helped to create some of the laws that keep people safe today. As leaders in personal injury law, we often counsel other attorneys nationwide on their most complicated, high-stakes injury cases.
We also have all the necessary resources needed to win a case, thanks to our network of investigators, engineers, in-house medical professionals, and re-constructionist. We invest in your case in order to help you rebuild your life. If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident due to someone’s negligence, please feel free to contact us and we’ll be more than willing to assist.
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