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What are the Phases of a Personal Injury Case?

Personal Injury

Personal injury cases can be complex and lengthy. There are several phases involved in a personal injury action, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. Although every case is unique, each generally follows the same structure, beginning with the initial consultation through settlement — or trial. If you have been hurt due to someone else’s negligence, here are the stages you can expect your personal injury lawsuit to go through:

1. Consultation with a Personal Injury Attorney

One of the most important things you can do if you’ve been injured due to the negligence or carelessness of another is consult with a personal injury attorney. They can best advise you regarding your rights and help you avoid any pitfalls or mistakes that could harm your case. At the initial consultation, you will discuss the specific details of your case, the facts of your injury, and your potential legal options.

2. Investigation Phase

After the consultation, your attorney will investigate the accident. This can include gathering evidence such as medical records, accident reports, pictures from the accident scene, statements from witnesses, and other relevant documentation. After the investigation phase, your attorney will know how to put together the strongest possible claim on your behalf.

3. Commencing a Personal Injury Action

If a fair settlement cannot be reached with the negligent party’s insurance company, the next step is filing a Summons and Complaint in court to commence a lawsuit officially. These are the first documents filed with the court and must be served on the defendant. The complaint outlines the nature of the claim, including the injuries you have sustained and the factual details about the accident. The defendant will then have the opportunity to file an Answer in response.

4. The Discovery Phase

The discovery phase of a personal injury lawsuit is when the plaintiff and defendant gather and exchange relevant information for their cases. It allows both parties to build strong arguments and engage in settlement negotiations to avoid trial. Various tools can be utilized during the discovery process to collect evidence, including various demands, interrogatories, requests for production, subpoenas, and depositions. A defendant may also ask a plaintiff to attend an independent medical exam (IME) to learn more about the extent of their injuries.

5. Motions

Following the discovery phase of a personal injury lawsuit, each side will typically file motions with the court. These motions can include a Motion for Summary Judgment requesting a case to decide certain aspects of the case prior to trial or a Motion to Dismiss filed by the defendant. Other motions can include Motions in Limine to request that specific evidence be excluded from trial.

6. Settlement Negotiations

Throughout the course of the case, both parties will engage in negotiations and attempt to settle the lawsuit. They might also pursue mediation or arbitration in an effort to resolve the case before proceeding to trial. However, if settlement negotiations are not successful, the case will proceed to trial.

7. Trial

Only a small percentage of personal injury cases are decided at trial. During the trial phase, each party’s attorney will present their argument in court, and a jury will determine liability and damages. The plaintiff can collect their judgment if the jury returns a favorable verdict.

Contact an Experienced New York Personal Injury Attorney

If you were hurt as a result of someone else’s negligence, carelessness, or recklessness, you may be entitled to pursue a personal injury action. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney can discuss your legal rights and fight for the maximum compensation available in your case. The Dearie Law Firm, P.C., has represented accident victims for over three decades and provides skillful advocacy to obtain the best possible results in each unique case. Contact us today for a consultation.