Contrary to what you may see on television or hear on the news, the vast majority of lawsuits do not end up in court. Instead, they are settled. Some disputes are even settled before a party files a lawsuit.
If you have been injured in Georgia and are considering initiating a lawsuit, it might be helpful to know the basics of how the process works. Understanding the steps can help provide you with a realistic idea of what to expect.
Before the Lawsuit
An insurance company will likely contact you shortly after the accident. It may attempt to get you to settle your claim even at this early point. Insurance companies are often successful because victims tend to be confused and overwhelmed after an accident. However, settling this early is rarely a good idea.
When an insurance company contacts you after your accident, you may not yet understand or appreciate the full extent of your injuries or how they will affect your future. Instead of jumping at the first sign of money, you should contact an Atlanta, Georgia, personal injury attorney. A lawyer will be able to evaluate your case and determine whether the insurance company is offering you a good deal or trying to take advantage of you. If a reasonable settlement cannot be achieved, the next step is to file a lawsuit.
The First Step in Filing a Personal Injury Claim
The first step in a lawsuit is filing a petition. This petition lays out the facts of the case and explains why you are entitled to compensation under Georgia law. The other side will reply to your petition via what is called an “answer.” This answer must respond to each of the factual and legal assertions your personal injury attorney made in your petition. From there, the parties will begin the discovery process.
The Discovery Phase
Discovery takes up a majority of the time and effort in a legal case. During this phase, you will work with your Georgia personal injury lawyer to gather information. You can do this through formal discovery by asking the other side questions in writing and demanding that they produce particular documents. You can also request to depose the other side. A deposition is a formal, in-person question-and-answer session that is held under oath.
Discovery may also involve extensive research or the use of experts. You can even subpoena other parties to gather more information. Discovery can be a long and complicated process, depending on the case. The discovery process is extremely important to building a good case for trial, however.
Most people are familiar with the trial process, but it is not like what you have seen on television. If the parties have prepared properly, there should be no surprises. Trial is your chance to present your case to the jury and explain why you deserve compensation for your losses after an accident.
Personal injury lawsuits rarely reach the end of a trial because parties can still settle a claim throughout the trial. And while some cases are better suited for trial, many others can be more efficiently resolved through settlement, alternative dispute resolution, or mediation.
Taking a case all the way to trial can take years, so parties often settle to save time and money.
Your personal injury attorney will be able to help you navigate the process. Call Williams Elleby at 833 – LEGALGA for more information or to request a free consultation.