Most plaintiffs, or injured parties, in personal injury lawsuits do not have any experience going through the legal process. They are often first-time victims who recently suffered serious, life-changing injuries and are in search of answers and closure. If this sounds like you, help is available. An injury lawyer can help you understand what is happening during your claim, starting with walking you through the typical steps a personal injury lawsuit involves in Georgia.
Before you begin your personal injury lawsuit, consult with an attorney. Hiring a Gwinnett County personal injury lawyer could transform your legal experience. The insurance company that is taking your claim will be more likely to offer a fair settlement once it knows you have hired an attorney. Schedule a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer near you to discuss important elements of your claim.
Who or what caused your accident
The identity of the defendant
Whether you have a claim
The potential value of your case
Your statute of limitations (deadline to file)
What to do next
You will have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about your situation during a legal consultation. The lawyer should answer your questions openly and honestly without obligating you to retain the firm after the consultation. A case evaluation is often the first step in a personal injury lawsuit in Georgia.
Once you retain an attorney, the law firm will start to work on your case. This will typically involve an in-depth investigation of your accident, including examinations of the scene and/or gathering evidence. Your lawyer may secure important evidence such as video surveillance footage, police reports, medical records and vehicle information to build your case.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim
Your lawyer will then help you with the process of filing your personal injury claim. Your attorney will make sure you file with the correct county court before Georgia’s two-year statute of limitations. Your initial claim will most likely involve a demand letter, in which your lawyer lays out your requests for settling the case. This will include a breakdown of the damages you suffered and how much you are demanding in compensation. Some cases will end at this stage if the insurance company accepts the demands and issues a settlement. Others will proceed to trial.
What is the Discovery Phase?
If you cannot achieve a settlement, upon filing a personal injury lawsuit with the civil courts you and the defendant will enter the discovery phase. Both sides’ attorneys will be able to obtain further evidence and interview witnesses for recorded statements. The discovery phase often includes subpoenaing witnesses and recording their depositions – answers to lawyer-asked questions.
Mediation or Trial
In a final effort to avoid trial, your attorney and the other side may try mediation to settle your case. Mediation often involves an unbiased third party, such as a former judge, supervising the meeting. If mediation fails, your case will go to trial. Your personal injury trial may involve a jury that will determine the outcome of the case, or else a judge alone may preside.
During the trial, your lawyer and the other side will state your cases, question witnesses, and present both sides to the judge and/or jury. Hiring a lawyer with litigation experience is key to a successful trial. Even the most experienced attorney, however, cannot guarantee positive results. If you lose a personal injury trial, you may not win anything for your damages. This is why most attorneys try to settle cases before they go to court.
The losing party will have the option to appeal the judge or jury’s decision. An appeal can look very different from the personal injury trial process. You may need a special appellate attorney to help you with this phase of your case if you choose to appeal the first outcome. The skill of your attorney could make all the difference during a personal injury lawsuit or appeal.