If you have been in a car accident and suffered injuries and losses, you have most likely tried to recover compensation from the insurance company. However, in many cases, you either do not get an offer covering your damages, or it is impossible to reach a settlement. This is when you may want to consider filing a lawsuit in civil court against the party responsible for your injuries. How can you go about this and get the results you seek? Let’s see.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
Since a lawsuit is a legal action involving the court system, you should start by getting legal representation. This way, you make sure not to jeopardize your case by making a mistake you were unaware of, leaving no money on the table. Ask your friends and family members if they have experience with a lawyer or look for one online on a reputable site. Then, schedule interviews with them until you find the one you feel most comfortable with and who has experience with this type of case. Your lawyer will help you throughout the legal process, which involves these steps:
Filing a Complaint
A complaint is a document that explains what happened and the money you are seeking to receive. It also includes the legal basis for the lawsuit, and it works as the starting point of the lawsuit.
Serve the Complaint on the Defendant
The legal system allows for this to happen so the defendant can be aware of your intentions. Through this document, they will find out about the charges you are leveling against them and have the opportunity to prepare themselves for their defense. The law also indicates how long you have to do this and how long they have to respond.
The Defendant Files an Answer
After reviewing the complaint and the facts you describe within it, the defendant will respond and either admit or deny the allegations listed on the complaint.
This is the process through which both parties exchange relevant information or anything that may lead to further uncovering relevant evidence. During this time, each side has an opportunity to find out all the facts and plan a strategy to defend their position. They will build their cases and plan out their arguments. During discovery, written questions and documents may be exchanged, and depositions made.
Case Goes to Trial
Once the discovery phase is over, both sides will have on hand all the information they will need to present their case in court. During the trial, each side will have the opportunity to make an opening statement. Then, the plaintiff will present evidence which may include both oral testimonies and documents, and the defendant gets to cross-examine all witnesses and present their witnesses. The trial ends with closing statements from both parties.
The jury or the judge will then deliberate and reach a verdict. This may go in favor of the plaintiff or the defendant and is based on what the preponderance of evidence indicates. The judgment is entered in favor of one of the parties, and if it is in your favor, the defendant will have to pay damages in the amount awarded by the court.
How can a car accident lawyer help you?
Many activities need to happen before your case is ready to go to trial. Working with a car accident lawyer means you have someone who can help you when you need to negotiate with the insurance company. And if you end up deciding to file a claim, your attorney will gather all evidence needed to prove liability. They may start by going back to the accident scene to corroborate the facts you have given them. They will also get the police report, analyze it, and talk to the police officers if needed. Witnesses will be contacted and interviewed, and your physicians may also be contacted to clarify any information. No stone will be left unturned.
Coming up with the right amount of damages that you can claim is another important area in which having a car accident lawyer can be invaluable. All economic damages will be added up. These include everything related to the medical treatment of your injuries, as well as the money you may have lost by being unable to go to work while recovering from your injuries. Also, any costs related to fixing your car and other personal property that might have been damaged during the crash. Non-economic damages such as pain and suffering or emotional distress will also be added to the total using certain calculations and formulas. Your lawyer will also make sure all paperwork is completed in a timely manner and that you never miss any important deadlines.