Below is a basic timeline for a personal injury lawsuit. Please know that every case is different.
SEEK MEDICAL TREATMENT
For your own health and also for your legal matter, the first thing you should do is seek medical treatment. This ensures your health and safety and prevents a potential defendant from arguing that your injuries weren't caused by the incident at issue.
CHOOSE YOUR ATTORNEY
This is a personal choice so ask questions and make sure this is the attorney that you want to retain. The sooner you retain an attorney after your accident the better.
Your attorney will then initiate a thorough investigation of your case. She will interview you and collect medical records, medical bills, lost wage documentation. She will collect all other relevant evidence and build your case. She will evaluate your case and advise whether, in her legal opinion, you should move forward with your case.
PRE-LAWSUIT SETTLEMENT DEMAND
Your attorney, with your consent, will issue a demand and attempt to settle your case prior to filing a lawsuit.
In the event you and your attorney are unable to settle your case, she will proceed with filing a lawsuit. Every jurisdiction has its own rules as to when and how to file a lawsuit. In most instances, statutes of limitations will absolutely bar your right to file a lawsuit if it is exceeded. It is important to file your lawsuit within the statute of limitations.
How long a lawsuit lasts depends on many factors. Your case could take less than a year or several years.
Discovery in its simplest form consists of a written discovery exchange and oral discovery. Written discovery includes interrogatories and requests for production of documents. Oral discovery includes depositions of witnesses, medical treaters and other experts.
Throughout litigation all parties may be filing motions asking the Court for certain actions.
Typically, after all discovery is exchanged and all motions of significance are ruled on the Court, your case is ripe for mediation. A mediator is a person who is completely impartial to your case and works with all parties to the case towards settlement.
In the event your case fails to settle, the next step of litigation is trial. The length of your trial depends upon the complexity of your case and also the Court's schedule.
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