Time To File A Lawsuit: What To Know

Posted on: 12 March 2019

If you have been harmed because of a careless driver, you have options. Automatically heading to the courthouse to file a lawsuit might not be necessary, but you also might need to take that step at some point. Read on to learn more about what happens when you file a suit.

Avoiding Lawsuits

Make no mistake: many personal injury cases are resolved outside of court. That means that the insurance company for the other (at-fault) driver offers you a monetary sum of money. Accepting a settlement results in a quicker resolution, but you should never trade expedience for fair compensation. Once you speak to an attorney and they open negotiations up with the insurance company, there is always a chance you might settle. If they are not willing to make a good deal with you, you will need to take further legal action by filing a suit.

Filing and Serving the Suit

The actual meat of a lawsuit is encapsulated in a document known as the complaint (it may also be called a petition or prayer for relief). The complaint contains the reasons why you feel the other side owes you money, exactly what the damages are, and why you are not at fault. This is a formal court document and is often filled with legalese, but the front pages contain the identity of the parties, the name of the court (such as the district), a list of claims, and a demand for a certain judgment to be rendered. This last part is the dollar amount you (the plaintiffs) are suing to obtain from the other side (the defendants).

It's All about Fault

In legal terms, a car accident and the compensation owed depends on liability (or fault). If you have no proof that the other side is liable for the accident and your resulting injuries, you have no case. That is why the main part of the complaint is a list of facts pertaining to the accident and your damages. This list might contain several facts that assume the other party will agree with and pay you. That, of course, is not likely.

The Answer

The other side has only a certain amount of time to respond to the lawsuit by answering the complaint. With an answer, each and every fact you alleged in the complaint is addressed one at a time. Each item is denied on its face and the judge is asked to decide matters by trial.

Pretrial Preparations

Before the trial, discovery happens. This is the time to trade evidence and participate in a series of exercises designed to prepare each side to litigate their cases in court. It's worth mentioning that a settlement offer can happen at any time, even if the case has already begun.

To learn more about filing a lawsuit, speak with your personal injury attorney right away.