Many people wonder why a lawsuit takes so long to resolve. There are various reasons for this, including court congestion and overworked and understaffed law firms. But, one of the biggest reasons is perhaps the immense amount of work that goes into completing the necessary steps to conclude a case.
Prior to starting a lawsuit, there should be a thorough investigation of the facts. This will include gathering all information from the investigating police agency, such as a police accident report and witness statements. If the accident was severe, the police may have inspected all vehicles involved, taken photographs and mapped the scene. The map may contain valuable information such as skid marks and debris from the vehicle. This investigative information should always be obtained prior to starting a lawsuit.
Next, a thoroughly prepared attorney may want to hire their own accident investigator to review the police work, visit the scene to obtain measurements and conduct witness interviews.
The investigation of the case should also include gathering all relevant medical records from all treating providers and any past records that may relate to the same parts of the body injured in this case. This information may need to be discussed with a physician hired by the plaintiff.
Once the investigation is complete it is time to draft the Summons and Complaint. These are the documents that initiate the lawsuit once filed and served upon the defendants. The Summons and Complaint is a broad list of allegations detailing the reasons you believe the other party is responsible for your injuries and should have to pay for your damages.
Once this document is served upon the defendant, they must forward it to their insurance carrier, who will hire a law firm to represent the insured. Some insurance carriers will assign in-house counsel to represent their insured. Others will hire outside firms. Either way, the defendant has 30 days to serve an Answer to the Complaint. An Answer is a formal response to every allegation in the Complaint. The Answer will either deny, admit, or deny having enough information to answer an allegation.
Once an Answer is interposed, the parties will begin discovery in the case. Discovery in the case is usually overseen by the Court. Therefore, one party will need to request judicial intervention. That is a fancy phrase for requesting a conference with a judge. At that conference, the judge will set up a formal discovery schedule. He will also set up a return date known as a Compliance Conference, at which time it will be expected that discovery is complete.
Discovery entails exchanging all accident reports, witness names, expert witness names with their reports, insurance information, medical reports, depositions and physical exams of the plaintiff. Once complete, the judge will sign a certification order stating all discovery is complete. They will then shift the case to the trial assignment part.
From the filing of the Summons and Complaint until completing discovery it can usually take anywhere from one to two years. Once a case is transferred to the trial assignment court it will await its turn for an available judge to hear the case. This process can take up to six months to a year due to the vast amounts of cases in the system. Once a trial date is assigned the case will proceed to trial. A trial can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on the complexity of the case.
A trial entails opening statements, presentation of evidence, closing statements, instructions to the jury, deliberation, and a verdict. A case can be settled at any time during the process from the time the lawsuit is filed up to the time the jury returns a verdict.
Often, people get frustrated with the court system because of the length of time it takes to resolve a case. While the process is long and complicated, it is the best way I know of to resolve disputes peacefully.
Car accident cases involving personal injury can be stressful, tedious, and confusing. They are not to be handled alone. If you’ve been injured in a car accident at no fault of your own, it’s in your best interest to find an experienced personal injury lawyer to oversee your case as soon as possible. A highly-experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to guide you in the right direction and ensure that you don’t make any mistakes that can hurt your case.
Little mistakes can put huge dents in your car accident case. And we want to make sure you never make these mistakes. Here’s a list of 13 mistakes that could hurt your car accident case as well as the financial compensation you’re entitled to for your injury and losses.
If you trust your personal injury lawyer to get you the highest possible financial outcome from your case, it’s best to be upfront and honest with them about everything. A personal injury case can be a fragile thing, easily dismantled by defense attorneys. And insurance companies have one goal in mind – keeping their money. They’re trained on ways to keep you from getting the compensation you deserve. They know exactly how to trick you into thinking you’re safe and will be taken care of, but that’s simply never the case. They display a thin veneer of kindness at first. But since your well-being is not their main priority, they’ll do what they need to do either delay or fully withhold the payments you’re entitled to for your losses.
Don’t just look at these as tips…look at them as if they are rules. This is a fight that your personal injury lawyer is taking on for you. So it’s in your best interest to listen to, remember, and follow everything they say to the T.
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