Steps In the Personal Injury Lawsuit Process
Louisiana attorney John S. Williams fights for your rights
New Orleans is a very active city. So it’s no surprise that every year there are personal injury accidents in which people get hurt. If the negligence of another party caused the accident, victims deserve financial compensation. But if a settlement can’t be reached with the negligent party and their insurance company, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit.
The Law Offices of John S. Williams, LLC understands the impact that injuries from an accident can have on your life. Attorney John S. Williams believes that negligent parties need to be held accountable and that you should recover the compensation you deserve. He can guide you through the legal process and help you determine if a civil lawsuit is your best option.
There are many different types of personal injury accidents. A car crash on Chef Menteur Highway. A slip and fall accident in the French Quarter. An assault due to negligent security at a Garden District bar or restaurant. A dog bite in the 7th ward or a pedestrian accident on Napoleon Avenue.
People can get hurt and need medical treatment at Ochsner Medical Center or another area hospital. Medical expenses can add up quickly, and the injured person may not be able to work, resulting in a loss of income. Victims have the right to sue to seek financial compensation.
You may have many questions about the legal process involving civil cases. How do you file a personal injury lawsuit in Louisiana? How do personal injury lawsuits work? What is the court procedure like?
Here are the general steps that are involved in a personal injury lawsuit.
Get legal advice from an experienced New Orleans personal injury lawyer.
There is no legal requirement for you to have a lawyer. But getting a lawyer to represent you gives you a much better chance of recovering compensation. An attorney can review the details of your accident and go over your legal options. An attorney can also answer your questions so you have the information you need to decide what comes next.
In Louisiana, the statute of limitations (time limit) for taking legal action is one year from the date of your personal injury accident. That’s not a long time, so it’s important to get legal advice as soon as possible.
A lawyer will build your case.
The more evidence there is, the stronger your case will be. A lawyer will investigate your accident to get the facts. Types of evidence can include photos or video, accident reports and other legal documents. A lawyer can also identify witnesses who can provide information about your accident. In some cases, experts may be consulted.
A lawyer will also ask you questions about how your life has been impacted by what happened and review your medical records. This helps determine the amount of damages you suffered.
The insurance company may offer a settlement.
Your lawyer may contact the insurance company to discuss the possibility of a settlement after you file a personal injury claim. Or the insurance company will make you an offer. Most cases end up being settled because the parties involved wish to avoid court. But an initial settlement from the insurance company is likely to fall far short of covering your damages. You have the right to refuse any settlement offer that is made.
An attorney will file a lawsuit.
If a settlement offer can’t be reached, your lawyer will move forward with the personal injury suit. Formal documents will be drafted and filed with the appropriate jurisdiction and court. There will be a complaint that lists the facts of your personal injury. It may also include the amount of compensation you are seeking. There will also be a summons that is delivered to the at-fault party. This is an official notification that the party is being sued. The party will be given an opportunity to provide an answer, which is a response to your lawsuit. A court date will be set.
The discovery process begins.
In this process, there is a formal exchange of evidence. Each side will provide copies of documents and provide questions and answers. Witnesses give sworn testimony known as depositions to talk about what they saw. The discovery process can take months to complete. But each side will get a good idea of what to expect when the case goes to court.
The insurance company may agree to settlement negotiations.
Trials can be unpredictable and also involve a lot of time and money. So there may be a renewed effort to avoid court through settlement negotiations. Your attorney will keep you informed about these negotiations and give you the information you need to decide whether or not to accept an offer.
The trial will begin.
It will be either a jury trial or a bench trial where the judge makes the decision. In general, jury trials are longer and more difficult to predict. Each side will give opening statements. Next, the plaintiff’s attorney representing you will present evidence and witness testimony. When that is complete, the defendant’s attorney will then do the same.
Each side then gets an opportunity to give a closing statement. If there is a jury, jurors will receive instructions from the judge. The next step is for the jury or judge to consider all the evidence presented at trial and make a decision. This process can take only a few hours. Or it can go on for days or even weeks.
There is a lot to consider when filing a lawsuit after being hurt in an accident. Be sure you have an experienced New Orleans personal injury attorney on your side. Attorney John S. Williams puts his clients’ interests first and is determined to help them get the compensation they deserve. He knows how to build strong cases that are convincing to juries and helps victims get justice.
If you’ve been injured, learn more about your options. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.