If you are preparing for a personal injury lawsuit, here's what you should expect.
Sometimes personal injury cases are unable to settle and must go to court. If you or a loved one is filing a personal injury lawsuit and preparing to go through litigation, it's important to understand each stage of the process.
The civil litigation process can be long and drawn out. After the lawsuit has been filed, your lawyer will begin the process of discovery. This process may take a long time while each side requests and trades documents and information.
If your personal injury case is small, it may be beneficial, cost-effective, and quicker to try to negotiate and settle out of court. In small cases both side's lawyers can work together to negotiate a settlement agreement. However, larger cases involving personal injury can be complicated and timely and may require litigation.
In cases of personal injury where insurance companies are involved, insurance companies typically refrain from discussing settlement options until after the discovery phase when they've compiled all the facts that they need. Sometimes even after then, the defense attorney will file a motion to dismiss the case. The courts either grant or dismiss the motion. The defense is usually more willing to attempt negotiation after their motion has been dismissed. In these larger cases, courts often require parties to try mediation to settle cases.
Civil litigation can be frustrating and stressful, especially for a layperson who does not understand the legalese being used in court. It's important to find a civil litigator (also known as a civil litigation attorney) who takes the time to explain to you all the different steps of the trial, such as discovery, motions, mediation, and appeals.
One of the most trying and emotionally difficult part of personal injury litigation is the cross-examination. The defense attorney in the case has the right to ask the you personal and sometimes intrusive sounding questions. They have the right to see your medical records, tax returns, employment records, and more. They have the right to ask you very invasive questions that go deeper into your personal history. The only real solution you have is to be prepared.
Additionally, some defense attorneys may try to confront you questions that may offend you to try to get you to lose your bearings and make emotional outbursts. This is a common tactic. Defense attorneys know that juries don't like plaintiffs who yell or get angry.
It's important to remain calm and patient during a personal injury lawsuit. If anything doesn't make sense to you, discuss it with your attorney. Civil litigation can be a very slow process, but you'll get through it if you go in prepared.