If the victim of an accident has proof of the existence of an injury, and if the same person is ready to hire a lawyer, then he or she has the right to pursue a lawsuit. By pursuing that path, the victim becomes a plaintiff.
The plaintiff’s first steps
File a complaint in a civil court and within the month that follows the complaint’s filing, the plaintiff needs to serve notice of the complaint on the defendant.
The defendant hires a personal injury lawyer in Bedford, or gains access to an attorney’s services, as promised in the defendant’s insurance policy. Both defendants and plaintiffs should feel free to go after a potential settlement, even after the lawsuit’s filing.
The next pre-trial stage of the process
The 2 sides take part in a discovery session. During the discovery, the lawyers for the 2 disputing parties share their evidence. Depositions are scheduled, so that each of the same lawyers can gather more information on the accident, and the resulting injuries.
During the depositions, each attorney gets a chance to question selected witnesses. If the case were to proceed to trial, the witnesses’ answers would help the lawyers formulate the questions that each of them plans to raise in the courtroom. Sometimes the disputing parties reach an agreement during the discovery session. If such a situation develops, then the case can end with a settlement, and no trial has to be scheduled.
A trial is held
If the evidence that was revealed during discovery did not aid achievement of a settlement, a trial must be scheduled. At the start of the trial, each lawyer presents an opening statement. Then each attorney calls selected witnesses and questions each witness. The attorney for the opposing party has the chance to cross-examine each of the witnesses that were called by the opposing lawyer.
After the jury has heard all of the witnesses’ testimonies, the 2 lawyers present their closing statements. Once the members of the jury have heard those statements, the jurors receive directions from the judge. Then the same jurors begin their deliberations.
Ideally, the deliberations allow the jury to reach a decision, and to produce a verdict. Their verdict is given to the judge, and the judge reads the verdict to all those present in the courtroom. In a personal injury case, the jury’s decision determines whether or not the plaintiff should receive a court-awarded judgment, in other words money to cover the claimed damages.
If the lawyer for the other side objects to the jury’s verdict, that attorney can initiate the appeals process. Because litigation forces a plaintiff to wait a year or more for any money, most claimants decide to settle, instead of initiating a lawsuit.