How to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Raleigh
Most people never need to file a personal injury lawsuit and consequently are unsure of how to proceed. If filing a civil lawsuit is appropriate for your situation, a good place to start is with an attorney. Most personal injury attorneys in Raleigh offer free case evaluations, as we do at Whitley Law Firm.
You may believe that representing yourself in small claims court could yield recovery. Yet, this avenue still comes with many legal obligations. What’s more, you can only pursue up to $10,000 through this route. If you suffered a life-altering condition, you deserve every dollar you need to pay for your medical bills and lost income.
Following are the steps one takes in filing a lawsuit. However, call our office at (919) 785-5000 to begin a free case review and get answers specific to your situation.
Your Attorney Investigates Your Personal Injury Case
You can’t just file a lawsuit and demand fair compensation following an accident. You must file your lawsuit within the statute of limitations, a law that outlines how long you have to initiate legal action.
You must also have evidence that supports your right to financial recovery. Your lawyer can gather supporting documentation, which could include:
- The police report/accident report
- Photos and videos of the accident itself
- Your medical records
- Information from accident reconstruction experts
- Receipts and invoices for out-of-pocket expenses
- Eyewitness testimony
With the information your legal team finds, they intend to show that because another party’s negligence led to your accident and severe injuries, you have grounds for a lawsuit.
A Personal Injury Lawsuit Begins With a Complaint
If you are prepared to compose a legal complaint, you may have tried unsuccessfully negotiating with the liable party’s insurance company. You must now seek financial compensation through the courts.
A complaint is drafted by an experienced attorney on your behalf.. This document explains what happened, along with how you were injured, the details of your injuries, and the other party’s role in the accident. You are responsible for making sure that the defendant is “served” a copy of your complaint.
Once you file your complaint with the court, the defendant has a limited amount of time to respond. They may agree to an out-of-court settlement, or you may have to proceed with a personal injury lawsuit.
Both Sides Exchange Case-Related Evidence During the Discovery Process
After your complaint is filed, and you receive an answer from the defendant, both sides move to the discovery process. During discovery, the plaintiff and defendant’s legal teams may:
- Issue written questions, called interrogatories, to certain individuals who answer under oath
- Consult with medical experts, if necessary
- Request legal documents
- Take depositions, which is an opportunity to ask questions and get answers under oath
- Ask for a physical or mental exam
Many cases end at the discovery phase. For example, if the defendant’s legal team sees that you have a strong case, it might not be worth it to complete a trial. As noted, they may offer a pre-trial settlement or offer another remedy for your case.
The State May Recommend Mediation or Arbitration
North Carolina requires all personal injury cases to proceed to mediation. But why?
Trials are expensive, time-consuming, and risky for all participants. The court makes the final decision on how your case will be resolved, and there are no do-overs once a judgment is given. However, in mediation and arbitration, there is room for discussion and even a do-over if the result is not acceptable to one or both parties.
In mediation, both parties sit down with a mediator to talk about the issue and try to find answers that work for both sides. Arbitration is a hearing where each side presents evidence and tells their story. The decision may or may not be binding, depending on the agreement made prior to the start of the hearing.
When Mediation Fails, the Personal Injury Trial Begins
If your case cannot be resolved through mediation or arbitration, you are assigned a court date. You may not step into a courtroom for months, depending on your case and the court’s docket.
Once the trial begins, your experienced accident attorney will make an opening statement that sets the tone of your personal injury case. They may call on witnesses to bolster your case. The defendant then presents their argument, presents its own witnesses, and attempts to refute your claim for compensation. Each side makes a closing statement, and a verdict is given.
This is a shortened explanation of what happens during a trial. The important thing to know is that if you represent yourself in court, the court is not allowed to assist you. You must know what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. If you are represented by legal counsel, they can handle all procedural concerns.
Appealing Your Personal Injury Lawsuit Judgment
As noted, many personal injury cases don’t allow for do-overs. Yet, in some situations, you could appeal the court’s decision and ask for another trial. This could be a possibility if your lawyer finds that:
- Newly discovered evidence would make a big difference in the final ruling.
- The jury acted improperly.
- The court didn’t award the right types of damages.
- Procedural errors affected how you could present your case.
When you partner with an experienced personal injury attorney, you don’t have to worry about appealing decisions and growing frustrated with the legal process. They can manage your case, explain your options, and hold the negligent party financially accountable.
Start Your Free Case Evaluation With Our Raleigh Personal Injury Attorneys
Oftentimes, insurance companies will dig in their heels and refuse to negotiate in good faith, hoping that the injured party will quickly settle for a negligible amount. If you find yourself trapped between your injuries and the need for monetary compensation, know this: you have options. One of those options involves entrusting your case to Whitley Law Firm.
Call us at (919) 785-5000 for a free case evaluation. We protect our clients as we would our own family. Come and see for yourself what the Whitley Advantage is all about.