Knowing what to expect from a personal injury lawsuit can provide peace of mind by preparing you for the future of your claim. In general, a personal injury lawsuit will follow a predictable pattern with several key processes. Keep in mind, however, that every case is unique and yours may follow different stages. Your case could settle at any point during the legal process.
The Injury and Insurance Claim
First, you must have suffered an injury in an accident involving someone else’s negligence. Negligence means to act outside of the expected standards of care for a situation, such as a driver breaking a law and endangering others by texting while driving. In this scenario, you will have the ability to file a claim with the insurance company of the negligent or at-fault party. Filing a claim will initiate the legal process.
In most cases, filing an insurance claim will be all it takes to recover compensation for injuries and related losses (known as damages in the legal world), such as medical bills and lost wages. The vast majority of personal injury claims in Arizona settle, meaning the insurance provider accepts the claim and writes a check that covers all of the victim’s past and future damages. If this is not what happens, however, you may need to consult with an attorney for assistance with the next stage.
The Plaintiff Meets With an Attorney
Most injured accident victims hire attorneys to represent them during the claims process. This can ensure fair dealings with an insurance company. An insurer is more likely to take advantage of an unrepresented client, but will handle things differently if the client has an attorney. Your lawyer will have the power to negotiate for a fair and full recovery for you – or else file a lawsuit against the defendant for better results. Consult with an experienced personal injury attorney in Glendale for help with your claim.
The Attorney Files an Injury Lawsuit With the Courts
If your injury claim has not been successfully settled at this stage, your attorney can fill out the paperwork to file a claim with the civil courts on your behalf. You or your lawyer will need to do this before the passing of Arizona’s deadline (statute of limitations). Arizona Revised Statute 12-542 gives claimants no more than two years to file lawsuits for personal injuries and injuries that result in death. Act quickly to file a lawsuit to make sure you don’t miss the time limit, as this will typically bar you from recovery.
Discovery and Fact-Finding
The first phase of a personal injury trial in Arizona is discovery. This is the stage where your lawyer and the other side of the case – typically, the defendant’s insurance company – investigate the accident and discover what information the other side has. Discovery often involves reviewing documents and evidence, holding depositions (interviews with relevant parties), and filing requests for more information.
Pre-Trial Motions and Meetings
Before you and the defendant go to trial, your lawyer may try once again to resolve your case using pre-trial motions. Your lawyer may file a motion to strike down certain evidence, for example, or a motion to change the location of the trial. Your lawyer may also be able to reach a satisfactory settlement with the insurance company during pre-trial mediation or arbitration.
If your case makes it to this stage, you and the defendant will attend your court date in the correct county before a judge and jury. The lawyers from both sides will have the chance to present evidence, interview and cross-examine witnesses, and give opening and closing statements. Then, the jury will decide whether or not your lawyer met the plaintiff’s burden of proof: proving the defendant was more likely than not responsible for your injury.
Resolution or Appeal
You will receive a check for your injuries from the defendant if your personal injury lawsuit ends in a verdict in your favor. If the jury rules in the defendant’s favor, you may be able to file an appeal to argue for a different outcome. Your personal injury lawyer can help you through each stage of a case from beginning to end to increase your odds of a positive result.