When most people think of personal injury cases, they imagine a long, drawn-out court battle. However, most of these cases are settled out of court. In fact, according to some estimates, only around 4% of personal injury cases ever go to trial. So what does the court process in a personal injury case actually look like?
For starters, it’s essential to understand that there are two different types of personal injury cases: tort cases and contract cases.
Tort cases are the more common type of personal injury case, and they typically involve someone being injured due to the negligence of another person or entity. On the other hand, contract cases typically involve disputes between two parties over an agreement or contract.
Every case is unique, and the actual process may vary depending on the circumstances involved.
If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, it’s important to speak with our Atlanta personal injury attorneys, who can help you understand your legal rights and options. Read on to learn more about the personal injury court process in Atlanta.
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Before we get to the court process, let’s first understand what tort cases are. A “tort” is a civil wrong that can be remedied by awarding damages to the injured party.
Torts are classified differently, but the most common classification is based on the type of injury suffered. The three main categories of tort cases are personal injury, property damage, and economic damage.
Personal injury torts involve physical or emotional harm to the victim, while property damage torts involve damage to someone’s property.
Economic damages are torts that result in financial losses, such as lost wages or medical bills. While there are many different tort cases, they all share one common goal: compensating the victim for the harm they suffered.
Process of a Personal Injury Case?
The specific personal injury court process will vary depending on the jurisdiction in which the case is filed, but some general steps are followed in most cases.
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Get Medical Treatment
Personal injury cases can be complex, and getting the medical treatment you need should be your first priority. After all, you can’t very well file a personal injury claim if you’re not injured.
But what if you’re unsure whether or not you need medical treatment? The best course of action is to err on the side of caution and seek out professional help. A doctor can help to assess your injuries and determine the best course of treatment.
In addition, getting medical treatment as soon as possible provides documentation of your injuries that can be used as evidence in your personal injury claim. If you’ve been involved in an accident, don’t delay getting the medical help you need.
It could make all the difference in the outcome of your case. Our Atlanta personal injury lawyers from The Law Offices of Matthew C. Hines can help you navigate the personal injury claim process and get the compensation you deserve.
File a Police Report
If you’ve been involved in an accident, filing a police report as soon as possible is essential. This is true even if you don’t think your injuries are serious. The police report can be used as evidence in your personal injury claim, and it can help to establish who was at fault for the accident.
The police report will document any property damage that occurred due to the accident. If you’re unsure how to file a police report, our Atlanta personal injury lawyers can help.
Meeting with an Attorney
Hiring an attorney is an important step in filing a personal injury claim. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you navigate the legal system, gather evidence, and build a strong compensation case. But how do you know if you need an attorney? And what should you expect when you meet with one for the first time?
Here are a few things to keep in mind when considering whether to hire an attorney:
- The severity of your injuries: If you’ve been seriously injured, it’s important to have legal representation to ensure that you receive fair compensation.
- The complexity of your case: If your case involves complicated legal issues, it’s advisable to have an attorney on your side.
- The insurance company’s position: If the insurance company refuses to compensate you fairly, an attorney can help you get the settlement you deserve.
Keep these factors in mind when meeting with an attorney for the first time:
- Be prepared to discuss your case in detail: When you meet with an attorney, be prepared to discuss all aspects of your case, including the circumstances of the accident, your injuries, and any medical treatment you’ve received.
- Bring all relevant documentation: Make sure to bring any relevant documentation to your meeting, including police reports, medical records, and bills. This will help the attorney understand your case and determine how best to proceed.
- Ask questions: Don’t be afraid to ask the attorney about their experience, success in similar cases, and how they would handle yours. This is your opportunity to get to know them and ensure they’re the right fit for you.
An experienced personal injury lawyer have these qualifications. At The Law Offices of Matthew C. Hines, we help you navigate the personal injury claim court process and get the compensation you deserve.
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Starting the Case: Initial Court Papers
Initial court papers may include a complaint, summons, and notice of appearance. A complaint is a document that explains your legal claims against the defendant.
The summons is a document that tells the defendant they are being sued and need to appear in court. The notice of appearance is a document that tells the court that you represent yourself in the case.
After you have filed these initial court papers, the next step is to serve them on the defendant. This can be done by mailing them to the defendant’s last known address or by having a process server hand-deliver them.
Once the defendant has been served, they will have time to respond to the complaint. If they don’t respond, you may be able to obtain a default judgment against them.
If the defendant does respond to the complaint, the next step is to file an answer. An answer is a document in which the defendant responds to the allegations in the complaint.
The defendant may admit or deny the allegations or claim they have a legal defense to the claims. After the answer has been filed, the next step is to engage in discovery.
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Fact-Finding and Discovery
Discovery is the process of gathering evidence in a personal injury case. The purpose of discovery is to allow both sides to obtain information that will help them prepare for trial. The two main types of discovery are depositions and interrogatories.
A deposition is an out-of-court interview in which a witness is asked questions under oath. The answers to the questions are recorded by a court reporter and can be used at trial.
Interrogatories are written questions that must be answered under oath. The answers to the questions are typically in the form of yes or no, or they may be in the form of a short essay.
Resolution before Trial: Motions
Motions are legal filings made with the court to request a ruling on an issue in the case. The two main motions are motions for summary judgment and motions in limine.
A motion for summary judgment is a motion that is made when there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. This motion is typically made when there is no dispute about the facts of the case, and one party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
A motion in limine is a motion that excludes evidence that is irrelevant, prejudicial, or otherwise inadmissible. This motion is typically made before trial to prevent evidence not relevant to the case from being presented to the jury.
The Law Offices of Matthew C. Hines have the best personal injury attorneys in Atlanta who will file the necessary motions on your behalf. We understand the law, and we know how to win.
Settlement: Negotiating a Settlement
The vast majority of personal injury cases are settled out of court. This means that the two sides agree on the amount to be paid to the plaintiff. The settlement process typically begins with the plaintiff sending a demand letter to the defendant.
The demand letter is a document that sets forth the plaintiff’s claims and demands for compensation. The defendant will then have the opportunity to respond to the demand letter. The two sides will then engage in settlement negotiations. If the parties cannot agree, the case may proceed to trial.
What Happens at Trial?
If your case goes to trial, a jury will hear the evidence and decide whether or not the defendant is liable. If the jury finds the defendant liable, they will award damages to the plaintiff. The damages may be in the form of a lump sum payment or a structured settlement.
What is a Structured Settlement?
A structured settlement is a settlement in which the payments are made over time. The payments are typically made in installments but may also be made in a lump sum. Structured settlements are often used in personal injury cases.
What is a Lump Sum Payment?
A lump sum payment is a single payment made to the plaintiff. Lump sum payments are typically made in personal injury cases.
Here is a brief summary of what happens, from jury selection to the decision:
- Both sides will select a jury: This is done through a process called voir dire, in which each side has the opportunity to question potential jurors and strike those they believe would not be favorable to their case.
- Opening statements: Each side will have the opportunity to make an opening statement. The opening statement is not considered evidence.
- Presentation of evidence: The plaintiff will have the opportunity to present their evidence first. The defendant’s presentation of evidence will follow this.
- Closing arguments: Each side will be able to make a closing argument. The closing argument is not considered evidence.
- Jury deliberation: The jury will deliberate and reach a verdict.
- Verdict: The jury will then render a verdict. If the jury finds the defendant liable, they will award damages to the plaintiff.
Collecting Money after Judgment
After you’ve won a judgment in court, it’s up to you to collect the money. And let’s face it, most debtors will not hand over a check willingly. You may have to get creative. Here are a few tips:
- First, try sending a strongly worded letter demanding payment. This sometimes works with debtors who are on the fence about paying up.
- If that doesn’t work, you can garnish wages or seize assets. This is usually done through a court order, and the process can be complex. So you may want to hire an attorney to help.
- You can also try negotiating a payment plan with the debtor. This is often an effective way to get them to pay what they owe without going through the hassle of wage garnishment or asset seizure.
Whatever route you decide to take, just make sure you get the money you’re owed. After all, you’re the one who won the judgment.
Appealing a Decision or Judgment
If you’re unhappy with your case’s decision or judgment, you have the right to appeal. The appeals process is complex, and it’s best to hire an attorney to help. But here’s a brief overview of how it works.
- You’ll have to file a notice of appeal. This document tells the court that you want to appeal the decision or judgment in your case.
- Next, you’ll have to file a brief. This is a document that sets forth the legal arguments in support of your appeal.
- After that, the appellate court will hear oral arguments from both sides. This is your chance to convince the court that the decision or judgment in your case was wrong.
- Finally, the appellate court will issue a decision. If they agree with you, they’ll reverse the decision or judgment in your case. If they don’t, they’ll uphold it.
Need Help with Your Personal Injury Claim in Atlanta? Contact us Today!
If you’ve been injured and need help with your personal injury claim, we can help. We’re experienced Atlanta personal injury attorneys, and we’re here to fight for you.
Contact us today for a free consultation. We’ll review your case and help you understand your legal options. And if you decide to hire us, we’ll work tirelessly to get you the compensation you deserve. So don’t hesitate to call us at 770-766-4188