Although personal injury cases take different forms, the basic phases of the case remain unchanged. At the Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney, we have highlighted each stage of an ordinary personal injury claim to assist you in understanding the litigation process in case you suffer personal injuries in Pomona Park due to negligence by another person.
1. Meeting with Your Attorney
The first step after the car crash or fall is to seek medical attention. After, you should visit your attorney so that he or she can hear what happened. The duration of this meeting depends on the nature of the accident that resulted in the injuries. A car accident meeting, for instance, won’t take long if you understand what should be done after an accident. But when it comes to cases like medical malpractice, defective product injuries, or slip and fall accidents, you will disclose more details, thus the reason for long meetings.
During the consultation, you will share details of the event that resulted in the accident while your Pomona Park Personal Injury Attorney asks questions. A profound attorney will give you time to share all the information before asking questions. Some of the questions asked might not be pleasant to hear, let alone answer, but they are of great importance towards building a strong claim. Some of the details that your attorney will need relating to the accident or injuries include:
- Facts of the medical attention received
- Other parties involved in the crash
- Potential witnesses
In the initial consultation, you will also discuss the representation contract and the total cost of legal representation.
When walking into your first meeting after the accident, you should have the following expectations:
- A request by the attorney to sign forms sanctioning the medical care provider to release your medical records so that he or she can acquire the files on your behalf.
- The attorney will also inquire about your insurance coverage
- An excellent attorney will try to find out if you have spoken to any insurance adjusters and if the answer is yes, he or she will want to know the kind of information you shared about the unfortunate tragedy or injuries.
- Your attorney may find out if you were interviewed by another person after the accident. In case you did, he or she will want to know the person who conducted the interview and the kind of details you disclosed.
- If the injuries are not physical, the lawyer should inquire about the status of your injuries.
- If you have sustained physical injuries or complaining about a problem with your body after an accident, the attorney will suggest you seek medical attention. In the event you fail to see a doctor and decide to pursue a personal injury claim, the liable party may argue that the injuries were not serious because there are no records of your visit to a health care provider.
- An attorney may take up your case and contact you later for another meeting for further discussion.
- An attorney may also turn down your case. There are several reasons an attorney will decline a claim like family duties, field of specialty, or caseload. Other attorneys will turn down the claim because it’s weak. When this happens, you are encouraged to seek a second expert opinion.
- For whatever reasons the attorney declines the case, he or she may refer you to another legal expert.
- If an attorney takes up your case, he or she will explain the next steps and even give an estimate of how long the whole process might take.
- The attorney will also request you not to share details of the case with another person because doing so might cost you heavily in court.
- An excellent attorney will also share ideas on how they plan to keep you updated with matters concerning the case.
2. Carrying Out Thorough Investigations
In this phase, your Pomona Park Personal Injury Attorney begins investigations on the case. He or she will get a copy of the police report and evaluate it thoroughly. If the report doesn’t provide enough details, the attorney can hire private investigators to visit the scene of the crash and track down witnesses for an independent report. Accident reconstruction experts may also be sent to the stage and use photographs taken to find out what unfolded before the crash.
An experienced attorney will go through witness testimonies, check your medical records, your earning capability, and the history of your employer to find facts of the case. Video surveillance will also come in handy during the investigation. In case your injuries occurred in a vehicle accident where you suspect the accident may have occurred due to poor vehicle condition, the attorney will obtain vehicle data to find out if it was in a safe.
Take note that while the attorney conducts the investigations, he or she needs to keep you updated about all developments. He or she also needs to be available to address any legal needs that arise.
The majority of personal injury claims are resolved through litigation before the end up in court. The parties negotiate an arrangement where you, as the person filing the claim, agree to drop your pursuit of legal action in exchange for an agreed amount of money from the liable party or defendant.
Whenever you are offered a settlement by the defendant, you should consult with your Pomona Park Personal Injury Attorney first to get their expert opinion. The reason being most of the first offers for settlement are usually not the best.
When demanding a settlement, you will send a demand letter to the liable party or their insurer. In the letter, you should state the liability and damages.
The defendant or opposing party will review the letter and accept or decline the offer. If they turn it down, they might offer you a counter offer. Before agreeing to the proposal, your attorney should conduct an assessment based on the strength of the case. He or she will do the following:
- Review previous court decisions on cases like yours
- Check the possibility of winning a trial
- Assess the challenges of trying the case
- Assess the strengths and weaknesses of your evidence or that of the opposing party
When deciding whether to settle a claim or proceed to trial, there are general concerns involved. Some of these concerns are:
- Negative P.R. by whichever side because these cases are open to the public
- The amount of private info that will be bare to the public during the trial
- The conceivable revelation of corporate info and occupation secrets
- When a hearing is possible to be set and how long it will take before it ends
- The defendant’s lawyer tactics
- The extent of the defendant playing hardball
During most settlements, the plaintiff and opposing party evaluate these concerns to decide if it is in their best interest to settle or not.
4. Filing a Suit in a Florida Personal Injury Claim
If a settlement isn’t arrived at, your Pomona Park Personal Injury Attorney will file a complaint or pleadings with the court. Once the document is registered with the court, a copy is served on the defendant. The text explains the nature of the legal action between you, your insurer, the defendants, and their insurance company.
The lawsuit begins with the complaint or petition. Here, you outline your case against the opposing party. The document identifies all the parties involved in the claim, states your legal claims as a plaintiff, and narrates the facts resulting in the legal action. It is also in the petition where you make a demand or prayer to the court on what you expect the defendant to do. The complaint informs the opposing party of the legal and factual origin of your injury claim. It also outlines the accident, injuries sustained, and the damages you are seeking.
Summons and service processes are the next pleadings. The summons is an order to the defendant requesting a court appearance in the court where the case is to be prosecuted. It is a notice to the defendant that you are suing them for the losses and injuries you suffered because of the accident. The summons also sets out a time limit within which the defendant should respond or seek to have the case thrown out. In these court documents, you will also find the penalties or punishment for failing to respond promptly.
The summons is delivered and served to the opposing party together with the petition or complaint. The delivery of these court documents is called the service process.
When the defendant responds to the petition, he or she is presumed to have answered. The answer addresses every paragraph of the complaint to admit or deny each item independently. Answers may come in different forms. The answer may also become the basis for affirmative defenses where the defendant will deny being liable for the injuries.
If the opposing party has a complaint against you regarding the same incident, they might file a counterclaim. The counterclaims are written the same way as a complaint, and you, as the plaintiff, must reply to it. When responding, you can deny the claims, admit, or contest that the defendant lacks information. The reply to a counterclaim may also result in potential legal defenses.
In case many parties are to be aligned as plaintiffs or defendants, cross-claims will arise. The party being sued in the cross-claim then answers just like in the original petition.
Take note that at times, the defendant might pass liability to a third party. The person will join the suit if the defendant files a third-party complaint. The third-party will then reply to the petition in the same manner the original complaint is responded to.
5. Discovery Phase
Your Pomona Park Personal Injury Attorney will be responsible for registering claims and replies to counterclaims in this stage. The discovery phase often comes before trial and allows all the parties involved in the suit to share evidence or relevant facts. Sharing relevant information prevents secrets that result in unpreparedness and surprises in court.
The phase involves sharing of written discovery, which usually contains questions that require your side of facts and claims in the case. The other written discovery is a request for admission.
Another tool of the discovery stage is document production, where the opposing sides are required to produce all documents relating to the case.
The last but not least tool is deposition. Under this method, the person put under oath answers all the questions asked by attorneys with a reporter writing down everything said during the testimony.
6. Motion to Dismiss the Claim Before Trial
You can prevent a trial by settling or filing a motion. Your Pomona Park Personal Injury Attorney registers a motion requesting the court to take certain action to end the litigation process. A proposal like that may be granted if the defendant doesn’t respond, fails to reply within the provided timeline, or lacks the evidence necessary to contest the motion.
7. Personal Injury Trial
During a trial, a judge or jury evaluates the evidence presented to determine if the defendant should be held legally accountable for your injuries and harm. This stage provides you with the opportunity to argue your case, hoping to obtain a judgment in your favor. The defendant is also presented with the opportunity to refute the claims.
In the trial phase, the first thing that happens is the selection of a jury. The judge, your attorney, and the attorney of the opposing party interview the potential jurors and select them based on their responses.
Once the jurors have been chosen, the next step involves opening statements from attorneys of both sides. Your argument as a plaintiff goes first, then that of the defendant comes second.
The next step involves cross-examining witnesses and getting their testimonies. At the stage, the plaintiff and defendant present all their evidence before making closing arguments.
Just like in the opening statement, both parties are allowed to make their closing arguments. The closing statements allow the attorneys from both sides to sum up their evidence or recap it in a light favorable to their separate opinions.
The judge then gives the jury instructions regarding the standard they will use to determine if the opposing party is responsible for your injuries. The jury will deliberate on the case using the instructions from the judge and then give a verdict.
Find the Right Injury Attorney Near Me
In case you have suffered a personal injury in Pomona Park, and you are convinced another person is responsible for the accident, call Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney at 904-800-7557. Our profound attorneys will help you recover financial compensation, giving you time to focus on healing.