What are the Stages in a New York Personal Injury Case?
Whether you were hit by a distracted driver, or the victim of catastrophic medical malpractice, you may be able to file a personal injury claim. It is not uncommon for people to hesitate to file a claim after an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence. Some think the process will simply take too long, while others may not want to relive the accident over and over again. Knowing how the process works can give you the confidence to move forward and claim the full financial compensation you are entitled to.
Stages in a Personal Injury Case
Filing the Complaint
A personal injury case starts when the plaintiff, the accident victim, files their complaint with the appropriate court. The complaint identifies the parties in the lawsuit and the allegations the plaintiff is making against the defendant. The plaintiff can also include within their complaint the remedies they are seeking.
Serving the Summons
The summons is a legal document that outlines where court hearings and the trial will take place, and the amount of time the defendant has to respond to the initial complaint. If the defendant does not respond, they are considered to be in default. Once the defendant has been served, the court then has the authority to make decisions on the accusations within the complaint.
Answering the Complaint
Within their response, the defendant can answer any of the complaints outlined by the plaintiff. They can either answer “denied,” “admitted,” or “lack of knowledge” within the complaint. The defendant can also include counterclaims in their answer. Once the answer is filed, the plaintiff can then respond to any of the counterclaims made. The same response options of “denied,” “admitted,” or “lack of knowledge” are used within the plaintiff’s response. The plaintiff can also include an explanation of their answers.
The Discovery Phase
The discovery phase is an important part of any lawsuit or trial. During discovery, both sides can ask the other for any information they have. This is essentially a chance to see the arguments the other side has and the evidence they are going to present. Document production, written discovery, and depositions are all used during the discovery phase to ensure no surprises will come up during the trial.
Written discovery uses questions known as interrogatories. The questions are written and the side answering must provide their response in writing, as well. Document production involves asking the other side for any paperwork relevant to the case, such as hospital bills and medical records. During a deposition, individuals involved in the case, such as the plaintiff and defendant, are asked questions they must answer while they are under oath. Court reporters are usually present during depositions to record what is said.
Motion to Resolve
Sometimes a lawsuit is resolved through a summary judgment motion even before the trial has started. This typically occurs when the two parties agree on the facts of the case and are willing to accept the review given by the court. A case may be dismissed at this point because the service of the complaint was inadequate or the case lacks subject matter or jurisdiction.
A settlement can occur at any point after a lawsuit is filed, or even before. The vast majority of personal injury cases in New York settle outside of court. A settlement usually occurs after the parties involved have negotiated a fair amount, either through mediation or on their own. A settlement allows the defendant to avoid any negative exposure the lawsuit may bring, and reduces the costs of a trial for all parties as they can become quite expensive. Defendants will sometimes offer a settlement at the very beginning of the process. A New York City personal injury lawyer should always review these offers, as they can be unfair for the plaintiff.
Unfortunately, sometimes negotiations in personal injury claims are not successful. When the two sides cannot agree on a settlement, the case will go to trial. There are many different stages in a trial, as well. The first step is jury selection in which jurors who will ultimately make a decision on the case are chosen. After the jury is selected, the trial will begin. Each side has the chance to make an opening statement. In the opening statement, each side will outline their arguments.
After the opening statements, each side will call witnesses to the stand and ask them questions. All testimony is recorded by a court reporter. After all of the witnesses have been questioned and each side has made their arguments, closing arguments are then made. In a closing argument, an attorney will summarize their case and present arguments as to why the jury should find in their favor.
If the judge or jury finds in favor of the plaintiff, they then only have to collect their damages. Unfortunately, this is not always as straightforward as it seems. The attorneys for both sides will work together to get the check to the plaintiff.
Any time one side loses at trial, they can appeal the decision. During the appeal, a panel of judges will review the case to determine if protocol was broken, and to determine if justice was served. If the outcome of an appeal is unsatisfactory to either side, they can file an appeal with the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court does not review every case they receive, so there is never a guarantee of success, or that the case will even be reviewed.
Our Personal Injury Lawyers in New York City Can Help You Through the Process
If you have been injured by someone else’s carelessness or negligence, our New York City personal injury lawyers can help you claim the fair settlement you deserve. At Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, P.C., our skilled attorneys have long track records of successfully helping clients claim the full compensation they deserve, and we want to put our experience to work for you. Call us now at 1-877-ASK4SAM or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.