What Are the Stages of a Car Accident Lawsuit?
Many small steps must be taken when filing a car accident lawsuit. All of those little steps can be broken up into three main stages; pre-litigation, litigation, and trial. Getting an experienced attorney on your side is the easiest way to navigate through the whole process. (Image Credit: Jcomp/Freepik)
The pre-litigation stage of a car accident lawsuit is all about gathering materials. Your lawyer will investigate the accident. This includes visiting the site of the crash, obtaining police reports and witness statements. They will procure copies of medical files for you and others who were in the vehicle with you at the time of the accident. Finally, after consulting with experts that could help in your case, they will negotiate with the insurance companies in hopes of settling outside of court.
Money might not be the first thing on your mind after an accident. This is especially true when the accident resulted in an injury or death of a loved one. However, it is often necessary to take steps to receive financial restitution. After all, car accidents tend to come with hefty price tags, particularly when medical costs are involved. Click here to learn more about how filing a legal claim after an accident may result in much-needed monetary compensation.
If your lawyer is unable to come to a reasonable settlement with the insurance companies, then you will move on to the litigation stage. There are four main steps that you will go through before the case potentially goes to trial:
- Filing the lawsuit
The first step in the litigation stage is to formally file a lawsuit against the responsible parties. After the lawsuit is on file with the courts, the discovery stage takes place with the two sides sharing documents and evidence. Next is the deposition, where witnesses and experts are called in to give evidence in your case. Finally, you will enter into the mediation phase, where the two sides will once again try to settle the case. However, this time, a trained third-party will try to help the two sides come to terms.
During litigation, the hope is that you will be able to come to an agreement and avoid going to court. Even if your case seems to be airtight, one never knows what will happen when things are left up to a jury. While injury cases are usually resolved by the end of the litigation stage, sometimes a settlement is still not reached. When this occurs, your case will move on to trial.
If you make it through the litigation stage without reaching a settlement, then your case will go to trial. Here, a jury will hear evidence from both sides and issue a verdict. Should the case goes against you and your lawyer can find grounds for an appeal, then they will file one. Then your lawyer will once again argue your case, this time in front of the appellate court. And if you lose your first appeal, your lawyer can once again appeal up the food chain until your appeal is denied or you finally win.
Can I Go It Alone?
Legally, you can always represent yourself in any legal action, but it is highly inadvisable. The law is a many-layered and nuanced creature, and without the help of an attorney and their team, you can easily find yourself in deep water. Your case could even be thrown out before it gets started.
Most lawyers who find themselves in court on a personal matter don’t even represent themselves. If it is not their specific field, they know they will likely be in much better hands with another attorney. Even if they are in a situation where they are in court involving an area of the law that they specialize in, the ability of another lawyer to look at the case with an impartial perspective can benefit them greatly.