Being a victim in a car accident can be devastating — and the aftermath is often overwhelming. If you have sustained an injury and suffered financial loss due to another driver’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation by taking legal action. However, you might be wondering what happens after you file a car accident lawsuit. Although every case is different, most generally follow the same steps.
Continue Your Medical Treatment
It’s essential to continue your medical treatment and to follow your doctor’s orders after filing a lawsuit for your car accident-related injuries. Until your doctor has determined that you have reached maximum medical improvement, it’s crucial to keep building your case and documenting your injuries throughout the course of litigation. Your medical records are key to establishing the extent of your accident-related injuries.
The Litigation Process and Discovery
Once your personal injury lawsuit is filed with the court, the summons and complaint must be served on each defendant. The defendants in the case will then have a certain amount of time to file an answer, depending upon how they were served. The defendants may also file a motion to dismiss, which is a request to have the court dismiss all or part of the case.
The discovery phase typically commences soon after the defendants have appeared in the case. This process allows both sides to have an opportunity to gather information from the other to prove their position. Discovery is often the longest phase of litigation and can involve requests for documentation, photographs, investigation reports, video footage, and any other evidence relevant to the case.
Depositions are a crucial part of the discovery process. A deposition is essentially a series of questions asked to the other side about the accident. Although depositions are conducted out of court, the purpose of them is to know what the party will say at trial. Not only can the plaintiff and defendant be deposed, but witnesses to the accident, expert witnesses, and any other person with knowledge as to the facts and circumstances of the accident can be deposed.
The Pre-Trial Phase
If your case doesn’t settle during discovery or after it has been conducted, it will proceed to trial. During the pre-trial phase, one of the parties may make a motion for summary judgment, requesting that the court decide the case based on the arguments made in the papers previously filed. Before trial, the parties might also attempt to resolve the case through mediation or another alternative dispute resolution method.
At trial, the parties appear with their respective attorneys to present their cases. A car accident trial can last anywhere from a few days up to several months, depending on the complexity of the case. There are several parts to a car accident lawsuit trial, including the following:
- Jury selection
- Opening statements
- Presentation of evidence
- Closing arguments
- Jury deliberations
- A verdict is issued
Importantly, it is not uncommon for a settlement to be reached on the eve of trial — or even after it has commenced. A good personal injury attorney will know whether it is in your best interests to settle before the conclusion of the trial.
Contact an Experienced New York Personal Injury Attorney
If you were in a car accident, it is critical to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can help ensure your legal rights are protected and fight for the compensation you deserve for your injuries. The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. has been providing high-quality legal services and adept advocacy for car accident victims for more than 30 years.
The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. has convenient office locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, as well as mobile locations serving Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester, Rockland County, Nassau County, and Suffolk County. Contact us today for a free consultation.