A person's leg cast elevated on some pillows.
After you suffer serious injuries due to another party’s negligence, you may know that you need to pursue compensation for your injuries. However, many people struggle with common legal definitions, including things like litigation. What is litigation in a personal injury case? What is included in that critical process? If you suffered injuries and need to seek compensation through an injury claim, a lawyer who specializes in personal injury law can help walk you through the litigation process and give you a better idea of what to expect. For example, an Atlanta car accident lawyer could help you learn more about your rights following a car accident.

Litigation in a Personal Injury Case: Defined

Litigation, in a personal injury claim, means the process of suing the party that caused your injuries in civil court. The litigation process can mean all the pieces that go into pursuing the compensation you may deserve for those serious injuries.

What is the Litigation Process in a Personal Injury Claim?

The litigation process in a personal injury claim can be extensive. You should expect it to take considerable time to reach a resolution in your injury claim, particularly if you suffered serious injuries or have a case of disputed liability.

Step One: Contact a Lawyer

Legally, in Georgia, you have the right to file an injury claim on your own. You can choose to pursue compensation for your injuries through civil court yourself, including dealing directly with the liable party’s insurance company. However, in many cases, working with an experienced personal injury attorney can go a long way toward increasing the compensation you can recover for your injuries and providing you with more information about your rights. For example, suppose that you suffer injuries in a car accident. You may need a car accident lawyer to help review the evidence from the accident and the insurance policy that covers the liable party, then provide you with essential information about the compensation you should expect for your injuries and fight to help you recover that compensation.

Step Two: Complaint

Once your attorney has established that you have grounds for a lawsuit, your attorney will file a personal injury complaint in civil court. The complaint will lay out several key details about the case:
  • What led to the accident
  • The defendant’s negligent actions
  • What harm you suffered because of the accident and the defendant’s negligent actions
This vital complaint will help serve as the beginning of the litigation in your court case.

Step Three: Serving the Defendant

Once your attorney has filed the claim with the court, the law firm has a month to locate the defendant and serve the complaint. Serving the complaint serves to establish a legal record that the complaint has been filed and can help prevent future difficulties when moving forward.

Step Four: Discovery

During the discovery process, both sides will look for more information about the claim and the accident. Generally, the defendant, or the defendant’s insurance company, will also secure an attorney. Each side will put together evidence intended to support its claim. For example, an Atlanta car accident lawyer might put together evidence that the other driver chose to drive while distracted, which led to your accident and the serious injuries you sustained. Your lawyer may also want to include information like:
  • What injuries you sustained due to the accident
  • What medical costs you have faced because of the accident
  • What other losses you have faced because of the accident, including both financial losses (special damages) and general, non-financial losses (general damages).
The discovery period offers time for both sides to get a full picture of exactly what led to the accident and what compensation you, as the plaintiff in a personal injury claim, are asking for.

Step Five: Negotiation

During this phase, you may also have the opportunity to negotiate heavily with the liable party’s insurance company. Your attorney will work with you to gain a full understanding of your financial losses and the compensation you should realistically expect from the insurance company. While your attorney will typically work to maximize your compensation as much as possible, the insurance company’s attorneys may work to minimize the compensation the insurance company has to pay out as much as possible. Negotiation can go on for months or even more than a year after the process begins. The vast majority of injury claims do settle out of court. However, in many cases, it can prove very difficult to reach a fair agreement that fits the needs issued by both parties. Immediately prior to trial, you, your attorney, the insurance company, and its attorneys may go through one last chance at reaching a settlement agreement: mediation. The mediation process takes place with the oversight of a mediator, usually a judge or former judge, who will help provide an unbiased look at how the court will likely view the claim.

Step Six: Trial

If you cannot reach an agreement through negotiation, you will go to court over your claim. Both sides will have the opportunity to clearly lay out the claim, their expectations, and any evidence they have about what led to the incident. For example, if you suffered injuries in a car accident, your lawyer might provide evidence regarding the other driver’s dangerous behavior, while the insurance company might show any evidence that you also behaved negligently, which may have contributed to the accident. Your attorney will also present the compensation you have established that you need to ask for based on your injuries and losses, while the insurance company will lay out what it is willing to pay and why it feels that you do not deserve the full amount. Once both sides have had a chance to present all relevant evidence, either the judge or jury, depending on whether you have a jury trial, will rule on your claim.

Contact a Lawyer for Help with Your Personal Injury Litigation

If you suffered serious injuries due to another party’s negligence and need to pursue litigation against that party, a lawyer can help. Contact Cambre & Associates today to learn more about your rights.