KW Stuart Personal Injury & Car Accident Lawyers | November 1, 2023 | Personal Injury
Most personal injury cases settle without the need to file a lawsuit or go to court. However, some cases will go to trial. If you need to file a personal injury lawsuit in Stuart, FL, it helps to understand how your case might proceed.
What Happens After an Accident or Personal Injury?
Personal injury claims and lawsuits generally begin in the same way – someone is injured because of another party’s negligence, intentional torts, or other wrongdoing. The injured party usually files a claim with the at-fault party’s liability insurance company. The company investigates the claim to determine if it is liable for the damages.
Hiring a Stuart personal injury lawyer makes this process easier and increases your chance of receiving a fair settlement. An attorney investigates what caused your injury and gathers evidence they can use to develop a case proving the other party is at fault. Your lawyer also handles all matters related to the insurance claim.
After you complete medical treatment and your doctor issues an impairment rating, your attorney prepares a settlement demand letter. The letter reviews the facts of the case, discusses the legal cause of action to recover damages and the evidence proving fault and liability, and explains the extent of your injuries and damages.
The insurance company reviews the settlement demand. It could accept the settlement offer and pay the amount demanded for damages. However, it may deny liability or make a counteroffer. If the company makes a counteroffer, your Stuart personal injury attorney engages in settlement negotiations.
If the company denies liability or refuses to negotiate a fair settlement amount, your lawyer may recommend proceeding with a personal injury lawsuit.
How To Proceed With a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Stuart, FL
Each personal injury case is unique. Therefore, the timeline for a personal injury lawsuit and the steps involved in the case may differ slightly. However, most personal injury lawsuits include these basic steps:
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Stuart, FL
Your personal injury lawsuit begins with the filing of a complaint. You are the plaintiff (the injured party), and the party or parties you are suing are the defendant(s). The complaint sets forth the facts of the case, the legal cause of action, and your demands (i.e., compensation for damages).
Your attorney files the complaint with the clerk of court and serves a copy on each defendant named in the lawsuit. The defendants have 20 days to file an answer or responsive pleading unless the statute sets a different time.
Generally, the at-fault party’s liability insurance company hires a lawyer to defend the lawsuit. The lawyer may request an extension of time to answer the complaint. The court typically grants an extension at least once.
The case enters the discovery phase after the pleadings are filed and served on the parties. Discovery is the process of gathering additional evidence and information from the opposing party and other parties. Discovery tools used by plaintiffs and defendants can include:
- Requests for the production of documents
- Request for admissions
The parties must respond to the discovery requests by a specific deadline. The responses are submitted under oath, and the obligation to update the responses if a party receives new information is ongoing.
The purpose of discovery is to allow each party to evaluate the other party’s case. It also allows the parties to gather additional evidence to support their claim.
Mediation and Settlement Negotiation
After completing discovery, the parties generally agree to mediation or private settlement negotiations. Discovery can facilitate settlements at this stage because the parties have more information to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their case and the opposing party’s case. Many personal injury lawsuits settle at this stage.
If the settlement is not possible, the parties proceed with pre-trial motions. These motions request that the judge decide matters pertaining to the law. Common pre-trial motions in a civil case can include:
- Motion to Change Venue
- Motion for Summary Judgment
- Motion to Dismiss
- Motion to Allow Expert Testimony
- Motion to Suppress Evidence
The decisions made during pre-trial motions can significantly impact the strategy used for trial. It can also make settlement more likely. For example, suppose your attorney successfully suppresses a key piece of evidence the defendant intends to present. In that case, losing that evidence might weaken their case, making them more willing to accept a settlement offer.
Trial and Appeals
The trial begins with opening arguments. Each attorney makes a statement to the jury explaining various aspects of the case and the facts they intend to present.
The plaintiff presents their case first, followed by the defendant. The jurors are the triers of fact. They decide what evidence to accept as fact and whether to discount other evidence.
The jurors deliberate (discuss) the case after each attorney makes their final arguments. The jury may return a verdict in favor of the plaintiff and award the plaintiff damages. They could also rule in favor of the defendant.
Either party can file an appeal if they believe they have legal grounds to challenge the outcome of the trial. Therefore, you might not receive payment of a jury verdict immediately after the trial.
Should I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Stuart, FL?
Even if you have strong evidence proving your case, there is no guarantee that you will win at trial. Juries are unpredictable. Furthermore, trials can be costly and time-consuming.
Therefore, you want to discuss all options with your Stuart personal injury lawyer. A seasoned trial lawyer offers sound legal advice about the pros and cons of filing a personal injury lawsuit versus accepting a settlement offer. Then, you can make an informed decision about how you want to proceed.
CONTACT OUR STUART PERSONAL INJURY LAW FIRM TODAY
We proudly serve Martin County and its surrounding areas:
KW Stuart Personal Injury & Car Accident Lawyers – Stuart
73 SW Flagler Ave
Stuart, FL 34994