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A Personal Injury Lawsuit—Part One

Filing the Complaint | The Discovery Process

A Personal Injury Lawsuit Part OneWhen you have been injured because of the carelessness or negligence of another person, one of the first things you want to do is contact an attorney and initiate a personal injury lawsuit. You may be unable to work and without any income to meet your financial obligations. Unfortunately, a personal injury lawsuit is a process, one that can take months or years to complete. This series of blogs helps you understand the process, so that you can work more effectively with your attorney, and can make good decisions about how you want to proceed.

Initiating Your Lawsuit

A personal injury lawsuit begins when you file a complaint with the appropriate court. You’ll need to file your complaint within the specific period of time—what is known as the “statute of limitations.” But you’ll want to file your lawsuit without unreasonable delay, but it’s also in your best interests to do so. Memories can fade and witnesses can disappear. The sooner you file your lawsuit, the sooner your attorney can start to gather and preserve all relevant evidence.

Once you’ve filed your complaint, and served all defendants with a copy, the defendants have a specific period of time to file an “answer,” either admitting or denying the allegations in the complaint. In most jurisdictions, that’s 30 days. If a defendant fails to file an answer in a timely manner, you can ask the court for a default judgment, which will typically be enforced absent significant extenuating circumstances.

The Discovery Period

If the defendant(s) all answer in a timely manner, the court will next schedule a first meeting, where the judge will learn a little bit about the case, and will most likely explore the possibility of settlement before trial. In some instances, the judge may actually require that you try mediation or some alternative method of dispute resolution, so that trial can potentially be avoided.

At that first meeting, the judge will typically establish the “discovery” schedule. Discovery is a legal term that refers to the gathering of evidence, which is typically done through:

  • Depositions-Oral examination of witnesses by attorneys for all parties, transcribed by court reporters
  • Requests for production of documents and physical evidence, so that all parties can examine
  • Interrogatories—Written questions to parties that must be answered in writing and delivered by a certain date. The court customarily establishes limits on the number of interrogatories

Depending on the complexity of the case, the court may establish a discovery period of a few months or even more than a year.

Contact Attorney David J. Karbasian

Contact our office online or call us at 856-667-4666 / 856-600-HURT to schedule an appointment. Your first consultation is without cost or obligation. The sooner you call, the sooner you can move forward with your claim. We can accommodate evening or weekend meeting requests and will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

We handle all personal injury claims on a contingent fee basis. We won’t charge any attorney fees unless we recover compensation for your losses.

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