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What Are the Steps in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Know the course of action and what to expect during your personal injury lawsuit

If you’ve been injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, you need an experienced personal injury attorney with a successful track record to help win your case. Knowing the detailed steps to a personal injury lawsuit will keep you be well-informed about what can make proper compensation a reality. These cases can be complex, especially if the specifics of your personal injury case involve many parties, long-term medical care, or other nuances. Proving negligence will be key to your case, and your best chance in being justifiably compensated can be met by working with a personal injury lawyer.

Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys has been helping accident victims for more than 60 years; we specialize in personal injury cases and our attorneys have tried thousands of personal injury lawsuits. Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys has the knowledge, the power, and the expertise to get you what you deserve.

What Should I Do First to Protect My Personal Injury Claim?

Personal Injury Attorney Melinda Ghiardi working at her deskBefore you start the claims process, it is imperative that you have a medical evaluation or receive medical care immediately following your accident. A documented record of your injuries following an accident (including photos) is a critical piece of evidence that shows proof of your established baseline after the onset of an accident occurred. Records, receipts, treatments, are all to be recorded and kept. This is essential to any personal injury claim you intend to make and receive compensation for.

Under the Pennsylvania statute of limitations, you must file a personal injury lawsuit within two years of the date you sustained the injury. If two years passes, your claim will be denied. Two years may seem like a lot of time; however, there is work that must be done before a lawsuit is filed, so it is best to contact a lawyer as soon as possible.

Preparing and filing a lawsuit is involved and time-consuming; the personal injury lawsuit process can be a lengthy one. The earlier you seek representation, the better your chances of success. Time is of the essence — especially when keeping the integrity of the circumstances, witness testimonies, and data logs (both, physical and electronic). 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 a free consultation, and no obligation associated with your initial consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys.

What Happens After Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer?

Personal Injury Attorney Robert Munley speaking with employeeOne of the first steps a personal injury lawyer will do is figure out who is responsible for your accident. Someone else’s negligence has caused your injury and suffering, and this must be established to secure your personal injury lawsuit. The foremost essential piece to establish is your personal injury claim is to identify the negligent party. It is possible for there to be multiple at-fault parties; these cases tend to be much more complex. Hiring an experienced, successful personal injury attorney is a must to navigate these complexities is extremely helpful and can mean securing a more favorable settlement agreement.

Once you and your personal injury lawyer identify who is responsible, you will need to let their insurance company know that you are filing a lawsuit. Your injury attorney will act swiftly and efficiently to file paperwork with the court to initiate the litigation process. A letter of intent will go to the alleged negligent party, your insurance company, and more depending on the type of personal injury case. Your personal injury attorney will organize, construct and file accordingly.

Filing the 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 complaint is the legal part of your document that identifies the legal and factual part of your lawsuit: the designated involved parties’ identities — plaintiff (you) vs. the at-fault party (defendant), the legal basis for the court’s jurisdiction over the lawsuit, the legal claims involved, all facts pertaining to the legal claims, and the court that will handle the actual lawsuit.

The Summons is a formal legal document rendered so that the defendant is properly notified and to create accountability, as the defendant must respond within a designated timeframe. In the Summons, the plaintiff and defendant are identified and an explanation for why they are being sued is established. The summons’ contents include the court representative’s signature and the court’s seal.

The person at fault has three options:

  • File an answer to the claim in which they deny or admit each of the stated allegations
  • State that they neither deny nor admit the claims
  • The defendant’s response can also be to choose to file a dismissal motion. If they’re granted this motion, a portion of or the whole of your allegation is dismissed.

The Discovery Phase and Negotiations

personal injury attorney katie nealon working at her deskThe discovery process is where your personal injury lawyer will build your case during the personal injury claims process. The evidence in a typical personal injury case includes details of the accident scene, injuries sustained, lost wages, police reports, and anything else important. As far as your injuries, your lawyer will seek detailed records of medical treatment, medical records, medical bills, medical expenses, medical care, including anything you will need in the future. All involved parties will comb through each others’ claims, and regard the facts.

Based on the findings above, your personal injury lawsuit will then move to asking for compensation. Compensation takes into account nursing care, medical bills, rehabilitation, past and future lost wages, and expenses of repairing or replacing property. Non-economic damages are more difficult to value. There’s no one-size fits-all compensation, as they differ from one case to another, and can include disfigurement, suffering and pain, emotional distress, and loss of life enjoyment. An experienced attorney will be able to estimate the cost of your personal injuries to ask for a fair and maximum settlement.

In many cases a personal injury lawsuit doesn’t conclude after you ask for monetary compensation. Instead, an experienced attorney will use their skills to negotiate with insurance companies regarding your personal injury claim. This could involve a lot of back and forth, so it’s important you have a winning personal injury attorney on your side. Most personal injury cases are able to be resolved through negotiations, avoiding personal injury trial. However, if your case does need to go to trial, you should make sure your lawyer has the experience to argue in the court room.

Once both parties agree to the settlement, there will be paperwork to sign off on.

The three phases that embody your personal injury lawsuit process are:

Pre-Litigation

You have secured an attorney. There has been been investigation: calculation of loss and damages, discovery efforts, negligence investigations, consultations with field experts, key eyewitness interviews, assessment of medical records and injuries sustained, and possible insurance company negotiations, to name a few. This is why an experienced personal injury attorney is your best advocate, and will leave no stone unturned. All of these go into consideration when you (the plaintiff) file your personal injury claims in court: summons and complaints. The defendant is then properly served the papers, and the defendant’s attorney (often appointed by the defendant’s insurance provider) is to consider all allegations, and respond to the plaintiff’s attorney with defenses and answers. The defendant’s response is regarded as “the answer.”

Litigation

Litigation is now established; the discovery phase begins. Both parties exchange all the written discovery documentation that is to be considered: personal injury claims, testimonies, expenses, medical bills, medical records, and all that is relative to your case at hand. The defense attorney and plaintiff attorney exchange information as requested. Deposition testimonies can be transcribed for trial; these must be conducted under oath and most personal injury lawsuits utilize these for key witness testimony, investigating police officers, accident investigators, and specialized area of interest expert testimony. Ultimately, mediation can be on the table — where a mediator helps to negotiate between yourself and the defendant; if the settlement negotiations do not produce a settlement offer to your liking, your case proceeds to trial.

Trial

In many personal injury claims 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, your lawyer should be prepared and willing 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 – Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys has the experience, success, compassion, and will get you the monetary compensation that you are entitled to.

Should I Settle or go to Trial?

Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys personal injury lawyers walking down the streetIn reality, a trial can be a long, costly, and stressful process which may keep you from receiving compensation for years. Still, as your injury attorney will explain to you, there are benefits and disadvantages to settling your case and going to trial. Whether by judge or jury, a winning trial verdict can bring you a higher financial reward and, in some cases, help change public policy. But the process can take years, has no privacy guarantee, and the result is always uncertain.

On the other hand, settlement can bring you the compensation you deserve quickly, and many times with a guarantee of confidentiality and finality to the process — parties can sign paperwork agreeing not to pursue further litigation. However, a settlement isn’t always the best path, especially if the other party is unreasonable.

Is it better to settle your case or go to trial? Only your personal injury lawyer can help you answer that question. Your accident lawsuit is unique — one-of-a-kind — and your trial attorney will take you through the pros and cons of your claim to help you make the best decision.

Why Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys is the Best Advocate for Your Personal Injury Case

Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys has over 60 years of trial experience, and with all of its history, Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys is nationally-recognized and awarded for our high-regarded expertise in successful personal injury claims. We have the resources, relationships, negotiation experience, technical experts, and we have the expertise to get you the compensation that you deserve. 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 Personal Injury Attorneys 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. Whatever type of case your lawsuit entails, including car accidents, truck accidents, etc, Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys is here to get you started.

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 today for a free consultation and we’ll be more than willing to assist.

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