North Carolina Personal Injury Claims Process
While the exact way your personal injury lawsuit works out will depend on the unique circumstances involved in your case, there is a general outline that applies to the progression of nearly every case. For example, there is the fact that every personal injury claim starts with someone getting injured.
Then the person will often go to a Raleigh personal injury lawyer in order to find out if they have a case, and how much it could be worth. Ideally, the lawyer will offer a free case evaluation so that you can get an idea of where you stand.
Once you find an attorney you want, and if he or she will take the case, then the first step is to file a personal injury complaint with the court. The attorney will then need to give this complaint to the defendant within a month. Then the defendant is given time to find a lawyer. If insurance will be involved in this case, then the defendant has to inform their insurer about the pending claim.
This starts with the discovery stage, where each lawyer asks the other for key information. The two will also need to speak to a judge in court as the case progresses, and they could cover such matters as whether or not to pursue mediation or arbitration first, and when to schedule a start date for the trial. During the discovery phase, each lawyer will set up depositions. These are interviews and cross-examinations that take place in court under oath, and attorneys interview the opposite side as well as any witnesses. At this point, many delays can creep in, pushing back the trial.
A defendant may request a judge to issue a summary judgment that dismisses the case; in other words, they could request for the judge to throw out the claim because you do not have enough evidence to have a shot at winning a trial. Fortunately, the majority of these requests fail. If the case progresses, then both sides will have to come together for mandatory settlement conferences, and they will need to file motions about evidence that could enter the trial, choose the jury, and so on.
The Personal Injury Trial
If the case goes to a trial, then this will usually take about a week or so. A jury or a judge will have to decide if the defendant is at fault for your injuries, that is, if they are liable. If they are at fault, then the judge or jury would have to decide how much they owe you in compensation, compensation for pain and suffering, medical bills, lost income, and perhaps more.
Whichever side loses the trial can appeal. It could take several months or even a number of years to complete the appeals process. An appeal is asking our appellate courts to review an order entered by the trial courts. Essentially, you are saying an error occurred; the judge made a mistake or an error of law occurred at the trial court, and thus you want the court to take a look at it again and make sure it was done right. A common reason a lawyer may recommend filing for an appeal is when a person’s ability to pursue their claim has been denied in total by the trial court.
At the point where someone is appealing a decision, those are all purely legal arguments. It requires someone with a law degree, who is trained in legal writing and the law as it applies to the particular issues involved in an appeal. Those are the folks who you need to go to for an appeal.
To file a formal appeal, a person and their lawyer will have to give written notice to the court and to their opposing parties of their intent to ask the Court of Appeals to review the question. It is not a fast process by any stretch of the imagination and usually lasts around 1 to 2 years.
The benefits of an appeal would be if you prevail on appeal and get back to the trial court in a more favorable position. That would be a benefit if the court says that the trial court made a mistake against a person and now, they get a second shot. The downside would be the risks of losing. There are costs involved with an appeal. Plus of course, you always run the risk of not getting a more favorable outcome.
Reaching a Settlement
The good news is that the typical personal injury lawsuit will be resolved before going to trial. Along any stage of the pre-trial actions, both parties can agree to a settlement. The average settlement takes place after both sides have gone through the discovery phase.
If you are looking for an experienced personal injury lawyer in Raleigh, you can find the legal advocate you need at the Whitley Law Firm. Our legal team has more than 38 years of experience serving residents throughout North Carolina, fighting for the rights of the injured and of those who have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence. If you think you might have a personal injury case, do not hesitate to contact our firm today.