The 7 Parts of a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Have you or a loved one been hurt in an accident? Are you thinking about bringing a lawsuit? If you’ve never been involved in litigation before, the process can seem complicated and mysterious.
In this post, we describe the steps that take place in a personal injury lawsuit. Our goal is to help you understand what is involved so that you can make an informed decision about what to do next.
1. Filing the Lawsuit
The first step is to file the lawsuit. In the state of Texas, you sue the person who hit you, not their insurance company. The insurance company, however, may decide to defend the claim.
After you’ve sued the other person, they get served with the lawsuit and have a certain amount of time to respond. Their answer will provide more information about the specifics of your case. It will tell us if the other side is contesting liability, if they are going to claim that you contributed to the accident, and if they are planning to assert any claims against you or bring up any affirmative defenses.
2. Discovery Phase
Once the dust has settled on the initial phase of the case, we begin the discovery phase. Discovery is the fact-finding phase of the litigation process.
3. Written Discovery
We serve written discovery to the defense consisting of questions, such as whether they have been in other accidents before and how they think the accident happened.
If they think you did something to contribute to the accident, they will request answers to similar questions asking about things such as whether you’ve had previous injuries or have been involved in previous accidents.
Upon completion of the written discovery phase,, we begin the process of taking depositions. This is where you give oral testimony in a conference room, rather than in court. Depositions are usually taken under oath. You testimony details how the accident occurred, how you were injured, what bills you incurred, and what effect the accident still has on you now. During this phase, we will also take the defendant’s deposition.
From here we go to mediation. The mediator is a neutral third party who doesn’t have a dog in the hunt. He or she is there to help you get the case resolved. The mediator works with both sides, trying to obtain an agreed outcome.
It’s usually better to resolve a case before trial rather than going to court and not knowing what the outcome may be. A majority of our cases settle during mediation before ever getting to the courthouse steps.
If we don’t settle the lawsuit in mediation, we prepare for trial.
6. Litigation Can Be a Long Process
The wheels of justice grind slowly. Judges do the best they can. Unfortunately, due to a backlogged court system, litigation can happen over a lengthy period of time. Personal injury cases usually go to trial 18 to 36 months after the lawsuit is filed as there may be frequent delays. It helps to mentally prepare yourself by knowing that the process may take some time and that you won’t get to a resolution right away.
In Texas, every county handles litigation differently. You should consult with an attorney to find out how the court system works in your county.
7. How Much Will My Personal Injury Case Cost me?
One of the valuable services that we offer is to represent you on contingency basis, meaning that you don’t have any upfront legal fees. We carry the burden for the lawsuit filing and the costs of retaining any experts needed to strengthen your case. These costs are later reimbursed from the proceeds that we’re awarded from the lawsuit.
At Harris Cook Law we offer a free initial 30-minute consultation to gather the facts of your case and recommend a strategy to move forward. We encourage you to meet with one of our experienced attorneys and learn more about your options before you decide on what steps to take next. Contact us now at 817.275.8765 and let us help you.