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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.

Protecting Your Rights after a Car Accident

Protecting Your Rights after a Car AccidentIn the aftermath of a motor vehicle accident, there can be great confusion. You may not know the precise cause of the accident or the full extent of your injuries. However, if you have been hurt because of someone else’s carelessness or negligence, you have a right to pursue a monetary award to cover you losses. Here are specific measures to take to fully protect your rights:

Step One—Get the Medical Attention You Need

There’s nothing more important, after a car wreck, than ensuring you get all the medical care you need. Recognize up front that this is not the time to be stoic, tough or brave. You need to be willing to fully acknowledge the seriousness of your injuries. If you don’t, you may actually make things worse.

If you don’t feel like you can move under your own power, or you have any doubts about the nature of your injuries, stay put (as long as it’s safe to do so). Instead of diagnosing your own injuries, defer to the professionals. Wait until emergency medical technicians arrive and let them do what they are trained to do. If you need to leave the scene in an ambulance, be willing to do so.

Even if your injuries appear to minor, or you can move about under your own power, it’s still important to go to the hospital, an urgent care facility or to your family doctor as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the greater the risk that your injuries will get worse, or that you’ll have an intervening accident that makes it difficult to determine the source of all your injuries.

Be sure that you disclose all your injuries to medical personnel. Don’t focus on the obvious injury—the broken leg—and ignore the pain or stiffness in your back, neck or muscles. Often, those injuries can be more debilitating and take longer to heal.

Step Two—Gather Information

The more information you gather at the time of the accident, the easier it will typically be for your attorney when it comes time to resolve your case. Get contact information from everyone involved in the accident, as well as witnesses or bystanders. Take pictures of everything, from your injuries to the damage to all vehicles to weather conditions to any evidence on the roadway (skid marks, loose gravel, missing or blocked signage).

The most important thing to do, though, and as soon as possible—hire an experienced attorney to protect your rights. Even when liability seems obvious, a personal injury lawsuit can be time-consuming and complex.

 

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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