Pursuing a car accident lawsuit can be stressful, time-consuming and complicated. Navigating its multiple stages can be daunting if you’re doing it by yourself.
That’s why you need to hire a car accident lawyer with the experience and knowledge to advocate on your behalf. Car accident lawsuits are different. Some may be settled out of court, but a few cases will end up before a judge or even go to a jury trial.
You’ll need to navigate several stages before you see results. But what does each stage involve? How do they affect the outcome of your lawsuit?
Read on to learn the various stages of your car accident lawsuit.
1. Filing a Lawsuit
You might not be thinking about a lawsuit following a car accident. After all, your priority is assessing the damage to your car and yourself. But it is important.
You may need to file a claim with the other motorist’s insurance company. But if your expenses exceed their policy’s limit or in case they deny your claim, your best bet is to file a lawsuit. The process will begin when your lawyer submits a complaint to the local court.
The complaint will document the allegations against the other driver. The defendant will have to respond within a specific timeframe once they receive this complaint.
2. Preliminary Motions
Preliminary motions involve hearings being presented in front of the judge. The details of your lawsuit are also discussed before you, the plaintiff, the defendant, the lawyers, and the judge.
Some of the most common preliminary motions include: Motion to dismiss; Motion for removal; Motion for a change of venue; Motion for a change of judge.
3. Pre-trial Litigation
If the defendant files a motion to dismiss in the pre-trial and fails, then the judge can proceed to set a trial date.
The judge may also suggest you opt for mediation. It requires both parties to meet with a third party to reach a mutual agreement.
At this stage, the lawyers investigate the facts of your case. They’ll share any documents and information they deem to be evidence.
Although it may seem odd to share this data, both parties have a legal right to access it. However, you are entitled to withhold some information, such as sensitive conversations between you and your spouse, doctor, etc.
5. Summary Judgment
If your lawyer feels the evidence collected during the discovery process is sufficient, you can ask the judge for a summary judgment. It involves asking the judge to decide the case without going to trial.
In this instance, a judge will come to a conclusion based entirely on the available evidence. The defendant can file the motion if they think the evidence is enough to prove the case against them couldn’t win. Regardless of who files the motion for summary judgment, you must provide proof from both sides to support your case.
6. Getting a Settlement
Most people assume that getting a settlement comes at the end of the lawsuit process. However, you can negotiate compensation at any point.
If evidence gathered during discovery proves unreliable or ambiguous, settlement may be your best option. Keep in mind doing so means you’ll be agreeing to relinquish any future claims against them.
In most cases, the lawyer receives the settlement and puts it into a trust.
7. Going to Trial
A trial is the last stage in a car accident lawsuit. It will only happen if a summary judgment or settlement fails. There are two forms of trial: jury and bench.
In a bench trial, a judge will review the case and assess its merits based on the presented evidence. For a jury trial, all the members have to evaluate the facts of the case to decide what amount of compensation you’re entitled to.
Once the trial ends, either party can appeal the decision. That means the case moves to the Court of Appeal.
Car accident lawsuits can be challenging to navigate without knowledge. These seven stages will help you understand the process and help you get the outcome you deserve.
Content provided by The Weekly Driver News Service and additional news sources.