Detailed Overview of the Steps in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Making the right decisions, informed decisions, from the beginning of an injury claim will directly affect your outcome. After retaining a competent, ethical, skilled attorney such as you’ll find at Burton Law, the attorney will draft an initial DEMAND LETTER which states all the facts in the case. In some cases, just this letter can lead to a settlement offer. However, right on the heels of the demand letter comes the Complaint Petition, which is the formal announcement of your case, a very thorough document that states all details. Next, the Summons and Service of Process are sent to the defendant, which notifies them that a lawsuit is being filed. The defendant will then respond to the Summons, and this is officially called the Answer. This response determines the course your lawsuit will now take. The Answer could state “admitted,” “denied,” or “insufficient knowledge to admit or deny.”
TIME FOR THE DISCOVERY PHASE
Now the real workings of the case begin. Through their respective attorneys, the Plaintiff and the Defendant share all their facts about the case. The exchange and review of all facts are called the discovery phase of the case. And so, during this process, details of the incident that took place, medical records, personal information, the extent of injuries and any long-term side effects, and any other related material are exchanged. All questions and answers from the injured party and witnesses are also recorded. In any type of injury case, it is always in your best interest to give all details to your injury attorney and not withhold any information.
WILL A SETTLEMENT BE REACHED OR DOES THERE NEED TO BE A TRIAL?
The large majority of personal injury lawsuits never go to trial. It is much less costly and less time-consuming to reach a settlement agreement between two parties in a legal case. Waiting for a trial can drag the case out for a long period of time. The court system is overloaded – typically having a backlog of cases. Once the discovery phase ends, which can take weeks or months, the injured Plaintiff will most likely be offered a settlement – and an experienced personal injury lawyer can explain to you if this settlement is fair and acceptable. If it is not, the back and forth communications between the two parties will continue.
WHEN A SETTLEMENT CANNOT BE REACHED – TRIAL
In cases where no settlement is offered or the settlement is rejected, the plaintiff’s attorney will file for a court trial. Keep in mind that it can take many months, a year, or even longer before the injury trial happens. Your attorney will prepare for the trial and plan their arguments, lining up witnesses. Then, when the time comes, they will present your case. In court, the defense attorney will attempt to deny or reduce responsibility by the Defendant and keep the compensation, if awarded, to a minimum. At this time, the experience and abilities of your injury attorney are critical if you are to prevail.
A trail follows these steps: jury selection, opening statements by the plaintiff and defendant, plaintiff presentation of facts, defendant presentation of facts, closing statements, jury deliberation, and finally the verdict. An upcoming article will share more in-depth information about the trial process.
If you’ve been injured in the state of Oklahoma due to another party’s actions or negligence, it is in your best interest to obtain legal representation. You will want a skilled legal advisor to help you navigate through the complicated process of a personal injury claim. Familiarizing yourself with the process and being prepared should this ever happen to you or a loved one is a good idea. Because as we all know…unfortunately…accidents happen. Our firm serves Oklahoma City and surrounding areas.