Starting Your Car Accident Lawsuit
Being in a car accident proves to be one of the most stressful times, especially if it was due to negligence. You may want to settle as soon as possible to move on with your life.
But once it's clear your car accident case may not be settled through negotiations, the next option is to move to court.
The process starts by filing a car accident lawsuit. In this case, it pays to understand the process to follow to avoid loopholes that would interfere with your judgment.
The case becomes complicated when injuries and property damages are involved. This requires the liable party to be held accountable for all injuries and losses resulting from the accident.
Your Initial Stages
A car accident lawyer in Alaska can guide you on what to expect in your case. The reason is that the car accident lawsuit laws vary by state. You will need to be concerned with the set time limit and other procedures for a successful claim.
Again, a judge decides what is to happen or has the final say in car accident cases. It pays to have a lawyer who understands the jurisdiction and the pattern of cases that the presiding judge has handled.
Going to trial means having more evidence to prove negligence. This will include having expert witnesses and any other evidence needed for a successful case. The evidence is more on how the accident happened, injuries involved, and damages thereof.
For your car accident case, you will need to:
- File your car accident complaint: For any trial proceedings commencement, a complaint has to be filed by the plaintiff. The complaint should contain your allegations and provide evidence for the basis of such allegations.
Note that you are free to bring different causes of action. For instance, you can claim for your lost wages, pain and suffering, medical expenses etc. Remember that you will also need to indicate how many remedies in form of monetary damages you expect for your compensation.
- Court service process: You will give notice to the defendant about your legal action. The act enables the defendant to respond to the court proceedings. Every jurisdiction has its own rules for the service process. Which may be done by either personal or substituted service, by mail, among others
- Defendant dispute on case merits: Often, a defendant has to deny most of the allegations by the plaintiff. This is called an answer. The defendant may also make a counterclaim or an affirmative defense. In the case of a counterclaim, you need to plead through an answer to a counterclaim. If the plaintiff doesn’t plead, they may only need to reply to an answer. But this must be done with the court’s permission.
One best way to protect your interest at trial would be to look for a lawyer who understands car accident cases' technicalities.
What Happens Before The Trial
This is referred to as the pre-trial procedure. To prepare for trial, both the plaintiff and the defendant have to engage in discovery. They have to exchange information about their witness and any evidence to be presented at trial.
By this, they avoid trial by ambush. There are many forms of discovery, such as depositions, an agreement under oath to any party involved in the car accident case.
Typically, depositions are composed of:
- Oral communication or direct evidence. Evidence may be direct or circumstantial that brings out a correlational link of the car accident and your injuries or damages, the latter being used often, but both are valuable.
- Cross-examination by the defendant to test the credibility for any question raised during direct examination. This is done by the defendant lawyer, who is concerned mainly with trying to impeach the credibility of evidence provided by the plaintiff.
- Each party interrogatory should be answered under oath.
- Subpoena, which involves producing specific evidence such as medical records.
- Submission to a physical examination, which is frequently in dispute. For instance, if you were to have a medical examination, you need to provide findings, any diagnosis, conclusion, and result of any medical test conducted.
After discovery, each lawyer will give their final say depending on the evidence presented. This is to lure the judge or jury into making the case in favor of the party, in this case, the plaintiff.
The case is then left in the jury's hands to scrutinize the evidence provided to help make a final judgment. There is no set time limit to give out their verdict, but this often happens within hours. But the time depends on the nature or complexity of your car accident case.
Once done, the judge is made aware of the conclusions. They make the outcome of the verdict known to the parties.
There is so much to deal with if your car accident case goes on to trial. That’s why it’s recommended to have an experienced car accident lawyer guide you in the process of collecting your judgment.