Not every car accident lawsuit will end up in litigation. Most times, car accident victims prefer to settle out of court rather than go to trial. However, there are instances where a case cannot help but go to court. One such instance is when the victim and the fault party’s insurance carrier fail to agree on a settlement sum.
Another is when the victim suffers severe injuries, or the defendant denies responsibility. If your car accident case goes to trial, you need to know the steps involved to prepare effectively. It is always best to work with an Atlanta car accident lawyer when filing a lawsuit for personal injury.
Steps Involved in a Car Accident Lawsuit
Although every car accident case is unique and decided on its merits, they all go through the same process. Below, our auto accident lawyers discuss the steps involved in a car accident lawsuit.
Hiring an Attorney
For you to file a car accident lawsuit, it means you suffered an injury caused by the fault party (defendant). There is no case if you cannot prove that the defendant owed you a duty of care, breached the duty, caused your injuries, and you suffered damages as a result. The preceding are known as the four elements of negligence.
On your own, you might be unable to prove the four elements during the trial. This is why you need to hire an attorney. The best time to get a lawyer involved in your case is after you suffered the injury. This way, the lawyer will sit through the negotiations with the insurance adjuster and file a lawsuit immediately after they fail to agree.
Furthermore, insurance companies can drag out negotiations knowing fully well that a Statute of Limitations exists. Alone, you might keep negotiating until time lapses, and you become statute-barred from filing a lawsuit. An Atlanta car accident lawyer knows the time stipulated by law and will commence your action on time.
Filing a Complaint and Serving the Defendant
Once you have a lawyer working for you, the next thing is filing a complaint and effecting service on the defendant. Your attorney will file a personal injury complaint with either the State Court of Fulton County or the Superior Court of Fulton County. Both courts have unlimited jurisdiction to hear civil cases.
In the complaint, your lawyer will spell out the harm caused by the defendant and the damages you want. After filing, the court clerk will serve a copy of the complaint and a summons to the defendant. The summons tells the defendant when they should appear in court.
The Defendant Hires an Attorney and Files a Reply
If the defendant did not have an attorney during the failed negotiation process, they could hire one now. If they don’t, their insurance provider might hire an insurance defense lawyer for them. However, note that a defendant without an asset or an insurance policy may choose to go without an attorney.
If the defendant has an attorney, they will submit the complaint and summons to them. The lawyer will go through it and file a reply or a counterclaim. The latter applies where the defendant alleges different facts and seeks compensation.
Pre-Trial and Discovery of Evidence
Both the plaintiff and the defendant will ask each other for evidence and witness testimony at this stage. It is known as the “discovery process.” At the early stage, both parties and their lawyers will appear in court and give updates on their progress. Here, they will decide on whether to try mediation or arbitration.
If they reject either of the two options, the case proceeds to deposition. During depositions, both parties and their witnesses will engage in a recorded question-and-answer session under oath. The pre-trial process is quite lengthy and involves mandatory settlement conferences. If the preceding fails, both parties will decide what evidence to allow at trial, select a jury, etc., and then proceed to trial.
This is the final stage of a car accident lawsuit. During the trial, the judge and jury will listen to both parties’ arguments and look at the evidence presented. At the conclusion, the jury will decide if the defendant is at fault for the accident and award damages for your loss. After the judgment, the losing side can appeal the decisions, which can take several months or years.
Contact an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer Today!
It is never a good idea to start a car accident lawsuit without an attorney. This is why you should work with an excellent auto accident attorney from The Weinstein Firm. Our lawyers have the required trial experience and will get a favorable judgment. Contact us today for a free case review.