Lawyers often talk about filing insurance claims after you have suffered a personal injury. In some cases, the best legal strategy is to file a lawsuit against the responsible party.
The lawsuit process can be very technical and lengthy. You are better served when you have an attorney representing you from start to finish in your case.
Here is a brief description of what you can expect in the legal process. The Pensacola injury attorneys at Stevenson Klotz Injury Lawyers are fighters in court who know how to take the battle to the defendant when necessary.
Steps in a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Florida
1. Hire an attorney
No law in Florida requires you to hire a personal injury attorney. However, reality and common sense dictate that you have legal help when you are seeking financial compensation. Accident lawyers who have lawyers do far better than those who do not have legal help. While hiring a lawyer is no guarantee of results, statistics show that represented clients usually get more money, even after they have paid a lawyer.
In any personal injury lawsuit, you are dealing with an insurance company who is defending their policyholder, as required by their policy. The insurance company takes on the legal obligation to pay you up to the policy limit. They do not want to pay you anything close to what you deserve.
An attorney is both your guide to the legal process and your advocate at every step of the way.
Your attorney’s role is to work to maximize the compensation that you would get and to protect your legal rights. Without an attorney, you are vulnerable to the time-honored tactics that insurance companies have been using since practically the beginning of time to pay you less than you otherwise would get.
The time to hire a personal injury is as soon as possible after your accident. Many of the initial steps in the legal process happen in the days after your injury. A lawyer would need to perform a prompt investigation of your accident before you lose the evidence that shows that someone else was to blame for the accident. Then, a lawyer would be the one who deals with the insurance company when they may be trying to reach and pressure you.
2. Prepare to file the lawsuit
Your lawyer would need to conduct a thorough investigation before they could even file the lawsuit. The first document that you would file is the complaint. This document is what lays out the facts of your case and the legal theories that would entitle you to compensation. Your complaint must be well-drafted and thorough. Otherwise, your lawsuit could be vulnerable to being dismissed.
Before you can even file the lawsuit, you would need to have enough evidence that could at least state your claim for relief. Your attorney would file the lawsuit with the court and serve the complaint on the defendant. That is the beginning of the lawsuit process that sets the rest of the process in motion.
3. Go through the legal process
The personal injury lawsuit process can take one year or more to resolve. You have little control over the schedule, other than doing everything in your power to work with your lawyer and make their job easier.
Some timeframes in your case are controlled by Florida’s rules of civil procedure. For example, the defendant would have thirty days to draft their answer to your complaint. Other deadlines are set by the judge, who may allocate a certain amount of time for discovery and would set a date for the trial.
Many people have an image of the trial as the climactic and dramatic end to your case. That is only partially true because discovery is much of where the legal heavy lifting is done. Your lawyer would be able to gather evidence in the hands of the other party through the discovery process. You may also have your deposition taken by the defendant’s attorney, who can ask you questions under oath for up to seven hours.
You may try to file a motion for summary judgment at the close of discovery. This motion would ask the court to rule on the law, assuming that there are no facts that are in dispute between you and the other party. If you have already clearly established a factual record, there is a chance that you can win your case without even having to go to trial.
4. Take your case to trial
After the discovery process concludes, your attorney would then prepare to proceed to trial. You may find it worthwhile to engage in mediation to negotiate a settlement before trial (or you may have been ordered to do so by a judge). Regardless, your lawyer will begin to take the evidence you have assembled and use it to weave your legal case.
Know that an actual personal injury lawsuit in Florida is still a rarity. Many accident victims will go through some or all of the legal process. However, the case will settle before it reaches a trial. You should fully prepare for a trial because it will put you in a stronger position to negotiate a settlement. If you cannot reach an agreement, you will have no choice but to go to trial. Stevenson Klotz Injury Lawyers are experienced advocates who have a strong track record in the courtroom.
Contact a Pensacola Personal Injury Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one have been injured in any type of accident, the responsible party may have a legal obligation to pay for the entire extent of the damages that you have suffered. The first step to making them pay is hiring a personal injury attorney at Stevenson Klotz Injury Lawyers.
We will do the legwork of your case, and then we could file a lawsuit on your behalf. Call us today at 850-444-0000 or send us a message online to schedule a free initial consultation. You only pay if you win.