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Filing a Lawsuit for a Personal Injury—Part One

Initiating the Legal Process in Court | Gathering Evidence

Filing a Lawsuit for a Personal Injury—Part OneWhen you’ve been hurt because of the carelessness or negligence of another person, you hope that you can get the compensation you need to cover your losses without the need to file legal action. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen very often. In most instances, you’ll need to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer and methodically move through the legal process. In this series, we provide an overview of what you can expect when you file a civil lawsuit for damages suffered in an accident.

Step One—Filing Your Claim

To initiate a lawsuit, you must file a document known as a “complaint.” The complaint must be filed in the appropriate jurisdiction—both geographically and in terms of the types of matters heard by the court. As a general rule, most personal injury claims are filed in state court, but there are circumstances where a federal court will have jurisdiction. Typically, the injured party initially establishes jurisdiction by filing with a specific court, though the defendant may seek a change of venue, or to have the lawsuit dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

In addition to filing in the appropriate court, you must also file in a timely manner. The statute of limitations sets forth the maximum amount of time you have to file, typically two years from the date of injury or discovery of injury. Once your complaint is filed, the defendant must file an answer within a specified period, usually 28 days. If the defendant fails to do so, you can ask the court for a default judgment.

Step Two—The Discovery Process

If there’s a timely response to your complaint, the judge will customarily set up an initial conference. That meeting usually has three functions:

  • It allows the judge to learn about the case
  • It gives the judge the opportunity to determine whether settlement is likely (and to encourage that process)
  • It allows the judge to set a discovery schedule

Discovery is a legal term that refers to the gathering of evidence. The judge will set a calendar for the completion of discovery and set any necessary limits on discovery. As a general rule, discovery is obtained through

  • Depositions
  • Requests for production of documents or other physical evidence
  • Interrogatories (written questions submitted to the other party)

Contact Attorney David J. Karbasian

Contact our office online or call us at 856-667-4666 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, if necessary.

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