When you take legal action against a driver that harmed you through their carelessness, you may need to go so far as to file a lawsuit. There are certainly less stringent solutions, such as a settlement offer, available in some cases. Unfortunately, not all accident victims can get the insurance company to cooperate and pay them the compensation they deserve for their injuries. Filing a lawsuit, like all legal matters, is a process and not a very mysterious one at all. Read on for a primer on what to expect as your personal injury lawyer propels your case forward with a lawsuit filing.
The Petition is Filed in Court
The actual paperwork names can vary. It might be called a complaint, a petition, or something else. The other side will certainly know its meaning when they see it, however. This is the penultimate action taken only after attempts at negotiating a settlement have failed and thus is seldom a surprise to the other side. Speaking of the other side, take a look at some of the main parts of the petition and what they mean:
- Who — the parties involved in the case are listed as your name vs. the other driver's name and their insurance company (if appropriate).
- Where — the legal standing for the suit explains why the suit was filed in a particular court or jurisdiction.
- Why — this is the actual meat of the suit. Here are listed the reasons why the other side owes you money. This section also addresses who was at fault for the wreck.
- What — known as the prayer for relief, demand for relief or judgment, etc. This lets the other parties know what you are asking for in terms of monetary compensation.
Just the Facts
You may notice as you read over your copy of the lawsuit that the case is described in terms of facts that are assumed to be true. Even though the facts are yet to be proven true, this is the traditional manner of wording the document. For example, one fact might state, "The defendant did cause their vehicle to collide with the plaintiff's vehicle, causing physical injury to the said plaintiff". This leads to the lawsuit's answer.
What Comes Next
The facts of the case are undoubtedly in contention or no lawsuit would be necessary. The other side must now respond to the suit with an answer. Each and every fact, as stated in the original petition, is addressed by the defendant by replacing your version of the facts with their own. Naturally, the facts of the case must be proven by what happens in court when the evidence and testimony are presented before a judge and jury.
This is the beginning of a process that includes discovery, jury selection, and then the actual trial. To find out more, ask your personal injury attorney.